Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Sunday in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
To add insult to injury, officials hit him with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he threw his helmet out of pain and frustration — something that gave the Colts an automatic first down and eventually a 20-3 lead.
On Saturday, though, the league took a step back. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Neal will not face any penalty for his unsportsmanlike penalty.
A good, common sense ruling: #Falcons S Keanu Neal, penalized for for unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing his helmet after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in a loss to the #Colts, was not fined for his action.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2019
Many expected that Neal would be hit with a fine this week, similar to the one Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs received last week. Diggs was hit with a $10,527 fine after removing his helmet and taunting the crowd in Green Bay. While Neal’s helmet removal was completely different, the action was still the same — which technically is a violation of NFL rules.
The 24-year-old was placed on Injured Reserve on Monday. He recorded 113 total tackles in 2017, his second year in the league, marking the second-best total on the team. Neal tore his ACL last year in the season-opener, too, making his latest injury that much more devastating for the former first-rounder.
Regardless, the league made sure to spare Neal from an extra fine for a penalty many — including Colts tight end Eric Ebron, who actually confronted the officials after the flag was thrown last week — feel he never should have received in the first place.
“[I was upset] because they should never throw a flag on that,” Ebron said this week, via the Indianapolis Star. “I mean, we got free yards out of that, so I’m not tripping. It just [upset] me off that the referee was not acknowledging the fact that he got hurt.
“I understand you’re doing the job and throwing the flag, but don’t throw the flag and not give a damn. That’s what I was saying [to the officials.]”
More from Yahoo Sports: