Bears wide receiver Javon Wims was suspended two games without pay Monday after punching Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson twice in the head Sunday.
When Wims appeals Tuesday, his case will be heard by Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, former players who are appointed and paid by the NFL and the NFLPA.
In suspending Wims, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan cited Rule 12, Section 2, Article 14(c), which prohibits swinging at the face of an opponent, as well as Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1, which penalizes unsportsmanlike conduct.
Wims threw two right-handed punches at Gardner-Johnson in the third quarter. In between, the safety kept his hands to his side, careful not to be seen as retaliating. Wims was ejected.
The bad blood began two minutes into the second half, when Gardner-Johnson ripped off Wims’ orange mouthpiece, which was dangling from his face mask, and threw it to the ground.
A source said Gardner-Johnson spat at Wims, who has had coronavirus issues with his family and was outraged. Gardner-Johnson told Saints reporters Monday that he didn’t spit on Wims.
On Instagram on Sunday night, Gardner-Johnson wrote that the swings were a “cheap shot” and that Wims “PUNCH LIKE A FEMALE.”
Coach Matt Nagy talked to Wims on Monday.
“Regardless of what went on, he knows and understands,” Nagy said. “He was apologetic and knows that, no matter what, you can’t do what he did.”
Neither player is a stranger to fights. Gardner-Johnson was hit by the Saints’ own star player, Michael Thomas, in practice last month. Thomas was suspended one game.
Wims fought with cornerback Prince Amukamara during training camp in 2019. Amukamara didn’t swing back and said he learned in college how dangerous it was to hit a helmet with one’s bare hands.
Halas Hall closed
All NFL teams are closing their practice facilities Tuesday for Election Day. Bears players reported to Halas Hall on Monday to do their typical Tuesday work but will have Tuesday off.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in May, the Bears encouraged players to register to vote the day they reported to summer camp. They’ve since taped commercials encouraging others to do the same.
“My family’s big on using your rights,” inside linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “Back in the day, [Black citizens] didn’t have those rights, as you know. So people worked hard for us to have that right to vote. . . .
“It’s very important we use our platform to speak our voice on it and try to influence people to go out there and do the same.”
If the Bears are going to improve their team — and their offensive line needs help — they need to do it by 3 p.m. Tuesday. That’s when the clock strikes on the NFL trade deadline.
If the Bears swing a trade, that player won’t be allowed inside Halas Hall until Monday at the earliest. Intake testing requires five straight days of negative coronavirus tests followed by a point-of-care negative on Day 6.