The NFL has suspended Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali of the Chiefs for the season-opener against the Falcons for violating its policy on substance abuse.
Hali will miss the Sept. 9 game against the Atlanta Falcons without pay, and got fined a further game check. He’ll be able to return the following day and is still allowed to participate in preseason practices and games.
“I apologize to my squad, the Hunt family, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and most importantly, our fans,” Hali said in a press release provided by the team. “I accept the discipline from the league and will return Week 2 of the NFL season with a commitment to erase this error with my play on the field and my conduct off it.”
Hali way back established himself as the Chiefs’ best pass rusher, reaching his 1st Pro Bowl last season alongside fellow linebacker Crane Johnson.
The previous 1st-round draft pick has started each game he’s played the previous 6 seasons. The previous 2 years have been his best – Hali had 14 ½ sacks 2 years back and 12 last season, when he helped a team ravaged by injuries to the doorstep of the playoffs.
“Tamba’s situation is unfortunate,” Chiefs GM Scott Pioli related in an announcement. “Clearly we are disappointed and will miss him during the suspension, but the NFL’s policies are very clear and we respect the league’s decision in this matter.”
Pioli said he couldn’t provide any extra comment.
Hali has become one of the faces of the franchise, although he goes about his business away from the spotlight. He routinely signs hundreds of autographs for fans and is known for his charitable work in the community, but he rarely talks to the media.
He’s racked up 266 tackles and 53½ sacks in his career, together with an interception and a safety. He’s also forced 22 fumbles.
It was little surprise that Pioli made signing Hali to a long term deal a priority, and the sides concluded last season on a 5-year, $60 million deal with $35 million guaranteed.
“We’re disillusioned. We’re disappointed for him, for the team, for the organization and the fans, but it’s what it is,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel asserted. “He’s a guy who is very prideful, he’s been a very good team member for this team, and I think the team will rally around him.” Basketball lines
Crennel said that Hali will practice with the team throughout the preseason, but indicated that it could become a balancing act between keeping Hali in the rotation and making sure that the guys available for the regular-season opener are ready.
Andy Studebaker is number one in line to replace Hali in the base defense.
Studebaker is a former 6th-round draft pick who has turned into a valuable backup in KC, where he’s started 7 of the 54 games he’s played across 4 seasons. He’s not known for an ability to rush the passer, something the Kansas City Chiefs will sorely miss with Hali on the sideline.