The NFL is a game built on regulated violence. Players push each other, tackle each other, and hit each other. And unless they do so in exactly the wrong way — with the crown of the helmet, to a quarterback well after he’s thrown a ball, to a defenseless receiver, after the play is over, etc. — that contact is all legal. The one bit of contact that is never, under any circumstances, allowed in the NFL: that with an official.
That makes what Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch did Thursday night truly, transcendentally, mind-numbingly dumb. Lynch not only picked an apparent fight with an official — he ran onto the field from the sidelines to do so.
In the second quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs, with the Raiders facing a third-and-10 from the Kansas City 43-yard line, Oakland called a quarterback-draw play, which led Derek Carr right into the arms of Chiefs lineman Allen Bailey. Before Carr appeared down but after it was clear he wasn’t going anywhere, Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters zoomed into the frame to lay a hit on the quarterback. Immediately, players from both sides began pushing and shoving, with Raiders players upset at what they interpreted as a late hit, and Chiefs players upset about a shove Kelechi Osemele gave to Peters immediately after the play.
Whistle did blow but I don't blame Peters for finishing the play. Wasn't down. Early whistle cuz of QB. pic.twitter.com/avdVFrYeoD— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) October 20, 2017
It quickly turned into chaos, and somewhere in the dustup, Marshawn Lynch apparently got his hands on an official and pushed him — a clear violation of the NFL’s rules.
Why did Lynch go out of his way to make such a boneheaded move? The explanation isn’t as simple as Lynch trying to protect his quarterback. The Raiders running back is also close friends with Peters, as both are Oakland natives. It’s a natural instinct to want to break up a fight between your friends, but in this instance, Lynch should have left the peacekeeping to the referees. Peters was flagged for a late hit, but Lynch was also flagged for making contact with an official and was ejected from the game as a result.
Of course, we won’t know exactly why Lynch ran onto the field unless he says so, and the famously mum running back isn’t likely to do so. After all, he is still the same player who coined “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” This time, though, he will get fined, as contact with an official and entering the area of a fight carry a combined minimum penalty of $36,463.