By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After losing the football while getting sacked last weekend in Carolina, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones grabbed the ankle of defensive end Brian Burns, who had made the sack and was in pursuit of the ball.READ MORE: 'Historically Low Level Of Blood': Red Cross Looking For Donors This Holiday Season
This ankle grab bothered Burns a great deal. But the NFL didn’t find the action to be all that offensive.
Jones was not fined by the NFL for the ankle grab, which left Burns temporarily injured — though he’d only miss four plays before returning to the game.
Both Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter reported that news almost simultaneously this weekend.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 13, 2021
Patriots’ QB Mac Jones was not fined for grabbing and twisting the ankle of Panthers’ DE Brian Burns. The action, which could’ve been penalized for holding, did not rise to the level of a fine in the NFL’s opinion.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 13, 2021
Jones was not penalized on the play when it happened, and Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick called it a “completely dirty” play after the Patriots’ victory.
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The best view you’ll ever see of Mac Jones rolling up on Brian Burns, via NFL Films.
— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) November 8, 2021
The ankle grab became the source of some controversy, with Yahoo columnist Frank Schwab saying the move “looks as dirty as anything Ndamukong Suh ever did to get suspended by the NFL.” (Suh once stomped a downed opponent, one of numerous outwardly violent actions he’s committed in his career.)
In the middle of the week, Burns expressed his own displeasure with Jones, spending the bulk of his eight-minute press conference talking about the play.
“I think it’s some bull,” Burns said, not buying the explanation from Jones and Bill Belichick that the QB thought Burns had the ball and thus tried to bring him down. “It would be nice to have an apology, Mac. It would be nice to have an apology. But I mean, it’s not gonna happen. And however the NFL handles it is on them. I would just like to play them again. And I wish all my fellow D-end brothers — happy hunting. And that’s all.”
Burns putting out a message to fellow pass rushers to seemingly try to injure Jones might have created an issue unto itself. (Panthers defensive back Troy Pride Jr. tweeted out “happy hunting” with a pirate flag after the news came down, so the Carolina defense really wants to see some retribution.) For now, though, the minor play that became a major controversy has been put to bed by the NFL.MORE NEWS: Peter Pan Offering $10,000 Sign-On Bonuses To Eligible Bus Drivers In Massachusetts
Of course, an NFL decision to enforce or not enforce discipline is not always an indicator of whether something was right or wrong. The NFL’s record in such matters is far from pristine. But absent anything else, it will likely serve as the final word on this particular matter.