KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Marcus Peters chucked an official’s flag into the stands, stalked off the field wearing a smile, then ran back onto it without wearing socks when he realized he hadn’t been ejected.
Well, he won’t have to worry about socks on Sunday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid suspended the volatile young cornerback for their game against Oakland after a series of antics that have humiliated not only Peters but the entire organization.
The latest came in last week’s loss to the New York Jets, when a late penalty was called and Peters picked up the flag and flung it into the stands . Peters proceeded to leave the field, assuming that he’d been kicked out of the game, and was evidently undressing when he realized his mistake.
So Peters ran back onto the sideline without wearing socks, only to watch the Chiefs’ last-ditch drive fall short in a 38-31 loss – their sixth in the last seven games.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking and come to the conclusion I’m going to suspend him for this game,” Reid said after Wednesday morning’s walkthrough. “I’m not going to get into detail on it. I did have the opportunity to talk to Marcus and some of the players, and I’ve got a good locker room. I fully trust them. We’ll be OK there. So that’s where I’m at.”
The team was informed of the suspension earlier Wednesday, and several players seemed to be trying to digest the news. Fellow cornerback Terrance Mitchell was asked whether a message had been sent to a team lacking discipline, and replied: “I’m not really sure.”
“You know, listen, nobody likes to lose, and when you’ve lost a few in a row sometimes funny things happen,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who typically acts as the team’s spokesman because few players are ever in the locker room when reporters are present.
“Coach made a decision and we’re going with it,” Smith said. “The stakes are too big right now with what we have in front of us. I think we have a good locker room, a mature locker room. Guys are going to handle it the right way. And we have to go as a team.”
Peters has been selected to the Pro Bowl his first two seasons, and was an All-Pro last year, so his loss even for a week is crucial. Not only did the Raiders’ Derek Carr throw for 417 yards and three TDs against the Chiefs in their October matchup, both teams are 6-6 and tied atop the AFC West.
“Any time a player goes down, whether it’s an injury or something like this, you treat it the same, and I’m sure they will,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “You go on to the next player.”
Peters came into the league with plenty of baggage after he was booted off the team at Washington for repeated run-ins with coach Chris Petersen. And for a while it seemed he’d cleaned up his act, perhaps having matured after the birth of his baby boy.
But a series of embarrassing incidents have once again called into question his character.
Two years ago he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in a game against the Raiders, and twice last season he punted the ball into the stands after creating a turnover – he was flagged for a delay of game against Carolina, while his punt against Jacksonville went unnoticed by the officials.
In a game against the Chargers earlier this season, Peters was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he got into the face of officials. The next week against Washington , he was involved in a pregame scuffle; twice got burned for touchdowns; got into a profane interaction with fans; and spent 50 seconds dropping more profanity in a postgame exchange with reporters.
During a road win over Houston the next week, Peters was caught cursing out defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on the sideline, forcing linebacker Justin Houston to intervene.
“I made it off the things that happened Sunday,” Reid said of the suspension. “I’m not going to get into the details. That’s not how I roll with these things. I deal with the player man to man, we discuss it, inevitably he’ll come back and we’ll move on from there.”
This is hardly the first time Reid has suspended his star players.
In 2005, he sat wide receiver Terrell Owens the second half of the season for an accumulation of incidents that had corroded the locker room. In 2011, it was wide receiver DeSean Jackson who got a one-game suspension after being late to team meetings.
“Any time you have to do one of these things, that’s not the best part of the job,” Reid said, “but I’m going to do what is best for this organization, for that time. Try to sit back and evaluate it, and that’s what I did with this, and this is the conclusion I came to.”
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