Connect with us

Steelers News

Colts WR Michael Pittman Doesn’t Take Damonte Kazee Hit Personally

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee laid a huge hit on Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman last season, and E.J. Speed wants revenge.



Steelers FS Damontae Kazee

Flash back a bit to last season when the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Indianapolis Colts. While it was one of the toughest games for the team, safety Damontae Kazee remembers it for something else. He earned a three-game suspension levied by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for a hit to the head of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.

Is Kazee a changed man after his historic ban? Not necessarily, but probably not for the reason you might think.

Kazee went to New York in person to have his appeal heard and to “give him a face.” He was only partially successful, getting it reduced to just a three-game ban instead of the whole season, which is why Kazee is back instead of watching from home. What he found out in New York was that the suspension was much more about Kazee’s history than it was about the hit against Pittman.

“I don’t think I should have been suspended, but we had an understanding up there,” Kazee said. “I know why I got suspended. It wasn’t for the penalties this year; it was from my NFL career.”

Kazee was ejected and fined but not suspended for hit on Cam Newton when he was with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. A 2021 DWI arrest caused him to have to serve a three-game suspension with the Steelers in 2022. Kazee had also been fined five times this season before the suspension.

“When players violate the rules intended to protect player safety on a repeated basis, and particularly when the violations carry with them a significant risk of injury to an opposing player, it is appropriate to impose substantially greater penalties,” NFL vice president of football operations John Runyan said in the press release announcing Kazee’s suspension.

Kazee was aware of his history coming, and he said he had already taken some steps to try to limit the potential for bad hits. It was just a situation he wasn’t expecting and wasn’t used to in Indianapolis. 

“This year, I changed my ways,” Kazee said. “Slow down. I made good tackles this year. Staying square and everything else. It was just the position I was in. (Gardner Minshew) threw the ball, (Pittman) dove for it. As a defender, I’m trying to knock the ball out.”

It would be easy for a defender to rail against the changes made to the NFL that have made a hit that would’ve gotten fellow Steelers safety Ryan Clark on SportsCenter 15 years ago into a banishable offense. But he said it’s up to defensive players to make the adjustments to keep the game safe.

“They understand me and I understood them,” Kazee said. “They’re trying to protect me at the end of the day. Helmet to helmet with another player is about me protecting myself. … We’ve got to learn from it. It’s a new NFL. Gotta do it.”

“Of course. This is my job. You have to be ready at any moment.”

But Pittman remembers the hit, too. For him, it was a terrifying moment, but he was not going to hold it against Kazee because he did not think Kazee meant to do it, or that it was a personal shot.

“I don’t take it personal because I don’t think he was trying to do all that,” Pittman said on The Trenches Podcast with Zaire Franklin. “And if he was and I find out, then it’s different. But I don’t think he was.”

But who did take offense to it? Pittman’s teammates. The Steelers will travel to Indianapolis this season once again, and linebacker E.J. Speed is looking out for Kazee on special teams so he can exact his revenge.

“I want one,” Speed said. “If he’s ever on special teams, if I ever catch him lacking.”

This is shaping up to be something to watch. Tom Brady even came to the defense of Kazee back in December after he was suspended, calling out the NFL’s policies towards the game.

“Nobody likes seeing players get hurt. But hard hits happen,” Brady said. “QBs should not be throwing the ball in areas where they are exposing their own teammates to these types of hits. Coaches need to coach better, QBs needs to read coverages and throw the ball to the right places and defenders should aim for the right hitting areas. To put the blame on the defense player all the time is just flat out wrong. Need better QB play!! It’s not OK QBs to get your WRs hit because of your bad decisions!”

Kazee was explicitly charged with violating NFL rule 12, which prohibits forcible contact to a player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if that is not the initial point of contact. Speed and other Colts will have a chance to pay it back to Kazee this year.

Click to comment
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments