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Should Packers safety Jermaine Whitehead have been ejected for slapping a Patriots player?

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Whitehead is not the first player to get ejected for a slap.

The Green Bay Packers were down a defensive back for the rest of a critical matchup against the New England Patriots after Jermaine Whitehead was ejected in the second quarter.

Whitehead was sent the locker room by officials after a quick scuffle with Patriots offensive lineman David Andrews. It ended with Whitehead open-hand slapping Andrews:

The Patriots scored on the drive to go up 17-10 and ended up winning 31-17.

The slap — which probably hurt Whitehead’s hand more than Andrews — unsurprisingly drew a penalty. But the ejection was criticized by NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth as punishment that went too far. Former NFL official and NBC rules analyst Terry McAuley also disagreed with it:

It didn’t help that the referee’s microphone wasn’t on during the announcement of the ejection. That led to confusion about why Whitehead was disqualified and who made the decision to remove him:

Riveron tweeted it wasn’t the NFL’s officiating office that decided to call for the ejection, but they did confirm it.

Bill Belichick thought it was more than a slap, which it wasn’t:

But the ejection isn’t that unprecedented for that kind of play.

Other players have been ejected on similar plays

Early in the 2017 season, the Packers were on the other side of a ticky-tack ejection. Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane got a little too aggressive during a scrap with Davante Adams and was disqualified:

There was also a slap fight in the 2017 preseason between Titans offensive lineman Quinton Spain and Bears defensive lineman Jaye Howard that got both players ejected.

Was the ejection of Whitehead a head scratcher? A little, but it wasn’t that far out of left field. Players probably shouldn’t hit other players in the helmet, whether it’s with an open hand or a closed fist.