For the second time in less than a month, an NFL player is taking issue in public with something that was said to him on the field by an official. This time the aggravated party is Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson.
The alleged incident, described by Simpson to reporters after the game, took place in the fourth quarter of Minnesota’s 48-30 victory over the Eagles. Things began with a taunting penalty called against Simpson after a Matt Asiata two-yard loss. A replay of the incident showed Simpson appearing to mess around with an Eagles player who responded by pushing Simpson over.
What the replay didn’t show was back judge Billy Smith apparently saying something inappropriate to Simpson. Simpson called out Smith after the game, identifying him as “the back judge to the right.” Simpson refused to repeat exactly what was said to him, but assured reporters it “wasn’t racist.”
“I kind of didn’t like what he said,” Simpson told the media. “It was definitely nothing that you say, that they should say to our players. What he said, I didn’t like it. I was going to ask him about it after the game, but they took off into the locker room.”
A similar incident last month in Philadelphia between Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams and official Roy Ellison led to Ellison being suspended one game for “a profane and derogatory statement.” That suspension came about only after Williams made a complaint to the league office.
Simpson says he won’t complain to the league about whatever the official said that got him so irate. “I’m going to let him live,” Simpson explained. “I ain’t going to talk to him about [it]. I ain’t going to talk to the league about it. But I really don’t like, though, what he said.”
Simpson’s taunting penalty and the punt that ensued as a direct result of it turned out to be no big deal, as the Vikings were able to hold on for the victory. Simpson contributed only one catch on three targets to the winning effort, but did make a big play leaping to recover an onside kick after a late score by the Eagles.
We await a possible league response to Simpson’s accusations against official Billy Smith.