NFL suspends Steelers safety Damontae Kazee for the rest of the season after big hit

The NFL suspended Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee without pay for the remainder of the season for what the league described as “repeated violations” of rules designed to protect player safety.

The ruling, issued by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan on Monday, means Kazee will miss Pittsburgh’s final three regular-season games and any potential playoff games if the Steelers (7-7) advance to the postseason.

Kazee was ejected from Pittsburgh’s 30-13 loss to Indianapolis on Saturday after hitting diving Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in the second quarter. Pittman laid out to try and catch a pass and Kazee made contact with Pittman’s head. Pittman left the game and went into the concussion protocol.

Runyan wrote in a letter to Kazee that illegal contact with Pittman “could have been avoided.” Runyan pointed to Kazee’s repeated violations of safety rules as one of the driving forces behind the suspension.

Kazee, a seven-year veteran, has been fined nearly a half-dozen times by the league this season. He will forfeit around $208,000 in game checks by missing Pittsburgh’s final three games.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday before the NFL announced Kazee’s suspension that he would not speculate on any potential discipline, saying it “doesn’t help me, help (Kazee) or football itself.”

The suspension means Pittsburgh will be without both of its starting safeties against the Bengals. Minkah Fitzpatrick is already out with a knee injury.

Kazee can appeal the decision to hearing officers Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who have been appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.