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Dean Blandino: Jon Bostic used crown of helmet in illegal hit

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

The NFL fined Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic $21,000 on Wednesday for last week's high hit on San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie.

That caused an outcry because Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger wasn't fined for his low hit on Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller, whose season ended because of a major knee injury sustained on the tackle.

Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, explained Wednesday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" that while both receivers could be considered defenseless players, Bostic's hit involved the crown of the helmet while Swearinger's did not.

"Keller is considered a defenseless player. He's a receiver attempting to catch a pass," Blandino said. "He's protected in two ways: He's protected on hits to the head or neck area. And he's protected on hits to the body with the crown or full head hairline of the helmet.

"Those rules do not prohibit low contact like you see here. It is a legal hit with an unfortunate result, something that the competition committee will continue to look at as we do look at all player injuries during the season. But it is a legal hit."

Why is Bostic's hit illegal?

"The Bostic hit is illegal because he used the crown of his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to the body of the receiver," Blandino said. "For this hit to be legal, he has to get the helmet to the side and use the shoulder to deliver the blow or hit the receiver with his head up.

"Those are the two techniques that we are trying to get back into the game. Using the crown to deliver a blow to the body, that is a foul when you're talking about a hit on a defenseless player."

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