The NFL has upheld the one-game suspension of Titans safety Michael Griffin as a repeat offender of the league's rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenceless players.
Appeals officer Matt Birk upheld the suspension Tuesday after Griffin appealed the punishment that will keep him out of Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
Griffin was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the second quarter of a 23-19 win Sunday for a hit on Oakland tight end Mychal Rivera. He went low, hitting Rivera as the tight end went to the ground after attempting a catch. It was Griffin's second violation this season and fourth since 2011.
The suspension will cost Griffin $205,882.35 of his $3.5 million base pay this season, and he is prohibited from any football activities until Monday.
"All I can say is I apologize to the Titans fans, my teammates, and the organization," Griffin wrote in a text Monday. "I also hope Rivera is doing well and I apologize to him and his family."
Griffin was fined $21,000 for hitting Jets receiver Stephen Hill high while blocking after an interception Sept. 29. The NFL also fined Griffin $21,000 last season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Minnesota receiver Michael Jenkins last season, and the safety was fined $7,500 for a late hit in the head area with his helmet in a game at Carolina in November 2011.
The timing isn't good for the Titans (5-6) who currently sit in the AFC's sixth and final playoff spot after only their second win in the past seven games. They trail Indianapolis by two games in the AFC South going into Sunday's game.
The Titans likely will replace Griffin in the starting lineup with veteran George Wilson, who started Nov. 3 when Griffin was sidelined by an injured quadriceps muscle. This will be only the second game Griffin, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, has missed since being a first-round draft pick out of Texas in 2007. He has started 99 of his 106 games played in his career.
Rivera, a rookie out of the University of Tennessee, had his helmet knocked off in the collision and did not return to the game. But he had no symptoms Monday and has been cleared by doctors to play this week. Rivera said Monday that Griffin texted him an apology after the game.