Just How Cheap Was T.J. Ward's Hit on WR Jordan Shipley?

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03: Defenders T.J. Ward and Eric Wright of the Cleveland Browns break up a pass to wide receiver Jordan Shipley of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)Before we talk about the reasons why the Browns won against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, we must first address the biggest issue of the day: rookie safety T.J. Ward’s hit on Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley. In the fourth quarter with the Browns up 23-13, the Bengals were driving deep in Browns territory and quarterback Carson Palmer threw a pass into the end zone intended for Shipley.

The pass was going to be incomplete, but Ward was already aiming to put a big hit on Shipley. Ward had to assume that Shipley was going to make the catch – which he almost did – so he had to hit him regardless. The outcry now, mostly from the Bengals, is that it was a cheap shot, because Ward’s hit knocked Shipley out of the game with a concussion.

Some even want to call it a dirty hit, but there was nothing that indicated that this was a move intended to hurt the Bengals’ rookie receiver. It is obvious from the replays that Ward leads with his shoulder and while it is unfortunate that his shoulder hits Shipley in the helmet, there was nothing malicious about it. Besides, would anyone really expect Ward to be able to stop? He made up his mind to hit Shipley (which is what a defensive player is supposed to do) and was making a textbook play.

I never want to see players get hurt, and concussions are especially dangerous. The league is doing the right thing by trying to get rid of helmet-to-helmet collisions, but it’s important that the league allows its players to play without fear of punishment for doing what they are paid to do. A fine will most likely be administered to Ward, but that shouldn’t stop him from being the aggressive player that he is.

One thing is for sure: Browns fans are taking a liking to Ward quickly. The hard-hitting rookie is just what the secondary needs, and no one in Cleveland will be upset with a defensive player delivering a huge hit, especially on a division rival.

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Tags: Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Hit Jordan Shipley News T.J. Ward

  • showtechall

    Man’s game. Clean hit with the shoulder. Light ‘em up, TJ!!!

    • steelstan

      Hope Brown’s fans keep this in mind when commenting on James Harrison’s hits today….doubtful…

      • TJ

        i dont believe either of the hits were cheap. its football. unfortunate that he took out 2 of our players. but they were good hits IMO

  • TheDude

    First of all. Shiply is not pro material. He lacks height, weight and speed. It’s a shame he got drafted. I’m sure Brown and Shiply’s daddy coach had things to do with it. He can catch but so can alot of highschool players too.

  • Steve

    I can’t believe how many ignorant comments are being made all over the web about this hit. Its called targeting, not helmet to helmet. You can target with anything, your arm, knee, elbow, and yes shoulder. You can tell by the video that Ward was aiming for Shipley’s head. You aim for someone’s head in football and you are going to give someone a concussion, plain and simple. To say Ward didn’t know what he was doing and what the outcome (he hoped) would be is just plain ignorant.

    BTW, I’d love to have Shipley on my team. Saying that Shipley’s dad talked the Bengals into drafting him shows just how much you know about football.


    • Terry

      Yes. He should have just pulled the flag that was attached to Shipley’s waist and held it up. That’s how you play flag football isn’t it? This is professional tackle football where large men throw themselves at one another violently at high rates of speed. It’s what we pay to see. If you don’t want to see it, I suggest you try soccer or gymnastics. Targeting!! Ha! You obviously haven’t played any football, because if you had, you would know that as a player, you are taught at the earliest level, to drive through the offensive player when making a tackle.

    • keith

      callit want you want….targeting? no it is football and it is hitting…great play by a brown..if it had been Palamolu or ray lewis it would have been seen on sportcenter 1000 times….GREAT HIT no flag should have been thrown

    • http://dawgpounddaily.com Steve DiMatteo

      Hey Steve, sorry for the confusion in the post. I didn’t mean to say that Ward’s hit was a helmet-to-helmet collision, I was just saying that it’s good the league is trying to put an end to those. However, I think it’s very difficult to say that Ward had an intention to hurt Shipley. You can’t fault a guy for leading with his shoulder and delivering a big hit. It’s unfortunate that he caught Shipley in the head, but I wouldn’t say it was a dirty hit.

  • http://www.clevelandbrownsweblog.com Clayton

    No elbow, helmet or knee. No lateness to the hit. No penalty should have been called. I said it immediately after seeing the replay at the Stadium on the jumbo screen. Both Bengals fans near me, good guys who I shared a few beers with, agreed. A blown call that almost cost the Browns the game.

  • Jason

    I wouldn’t call it dirty, as I agree there was no malicious intent. But it’s pretty clear on the slow mo replay that Ward’s Helmet was the first thing to make contact, and that his shoulder nailed Shipley’s facemask. Malicious intent or not, you can’t do that. It is clearly an illegal hit. Not dirty, but not legal and certainly worthy of the penalty (and possibly a fine.)

    • keith

      what replay are you watching? led witht eh shoulder and the only bit of wards helmet was a glance to shipley 99 percent shoulder NO FLAG SHOULD HAVE BEEN THROWN

      • Jason

        I saw the same replay you did, and you saw that the contact with the helmet was first. Shipley’s head snapped back when it happened before Ward’s shoulder made contact. Regardless of if he led with the shoulder, he hit Shipley helmet-to-helmet. According to the rules of the NFL, which all players must agree to adhere to, a receiver stretching to make a catch is considered “defenseless” and therefore a helmet-to-helmet hit is ILLEGAL. Like I said, cheap: no. Illegal: yes.

    • TJ

      I do not believe that it was helmet to helmet, nor do I think that it was a cheap shot. What if JS catches that ball with Eric Wright covering him? I do not think that would shock anyone. If he catches that ball and Ward plasters him just as he did, there is no TD. He wasn’t trying to hurt anybody he was simply PLAYING FOOTBALL. Im sick and tired of all of these penalties such as some of the outrageous roughing the passer calls and penalties on plays such as this. If I didnt love the Browns I would probably stick to watching college football where I do not have to continuously watch 15yds get awarded to teams that are un deserving of it.

    • Jim

      “No malicious intent” Come on! Absolutely, it was malicious, and vicious. And it should not have been flagged. Ward wanted to separate Shipley from the ball, and he did. That is his job. This is FOOTBALL. Dancing is a contact sport.

  • Terry

    I think it may be worth saying that Ward never left his feet. He did not “launch himself” toward the receiver, as has been suggested by the FORMER v.p. of officiating for the NFL.

  • Paul

    He broke the rules. Some here don’t know them so here are changes made this last year:

    The final change addresses forearm and shoulder hits to protect defenseless receivers. In the past, officials gave an unnecessary roughness penalty to a defender if he delivered a helmet hit to a receiver going across the middle of the field or any spot on the field in which he appeared to be defenseless. Starting this fall, the penalty will also apply if the defender hits the defenseless receiver in the head or neck with his forearm or shoulder.

  • TJ

    i have looked at the replay like 100 times and to me it looks like he clearly is putting his shoulder in the center of his chest. if the league says its illegal than that is there call to make, but i will disagree with anyone who ever says that it was malicious or a cheap shot

  • g.t.chisholm

    i recall a hall of famer receiving a dirty hit from a cheating db..then the hall of famer cleaned the lowlifes clock with a clean hit!!!! ant player who hits an opponent in the head area with their helmet REGARDLESS should receive a 100k fine n be suspended 10 games watch the cheap shots stop! a better game played with more sportsmanship is what we all deserve..only the misled agree with cheap shots!