CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NFL got it right by admitting an official made a mistake in ejecting Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly in the third quarter of Carolina's 38-17 loss at Green Bay on Sunday.
Kuechly did nothing wrong. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year simply threw up his left arm when grabbed at the waist from behind by back judge Steve Freeman after being separated from a scrum following a fumble.
Kuechly didn't know -- and had no way of knowing -- it was an official, having already been pulled from the pile by a player.
It was totally inadvertent contact. No punch was thrown. There was no malicious intent.
The league apparently saw the same thing. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, a source said Carolina coach Ron Rivera has been told a mistake was made and Kuechly would not be fined.
That Kuechly is one of the most mild-mannered players in the league -- except when it comes to tackling -- had nothing to do with the uproar about the ejection. It simply was wrong.
It was so wrong that one Green Bay fan took the time to find my email address to express outrage. I'll share because it likely sums up the thoughts of many on this. It read:
"I watch arrogant players get away with nasty plays every week; this was not one of those. This was my post via Facebook at the end of your internet article; please feel free to share it if it will make a difference for an outstanding player.
"I am a Packer fan and I feel totally sorry for Kuechly. It is clear that he thought another player was pulling at him; and as soon as he realized it was an official, he became docile. There is no evidence to support the ejection, nor is there evidence to support a fine. I have seen good men taken down for actions that were not really their own; this is one of them. Kuechly: if you are reading this, please don't let the ultimate enemy win. Continue to be a quality, caliber player regardless of the egoism that is the basis for this call. I am truly sorry for you from the bottom of my heart."
Panthers linebacker Chase Blackburn felt so strongly about it that he told The Charlotte Observer he would be disappointed if the league didn't issue a statement on it.
"Officials are held accountable too," said Blackburn, who is also Carolina's NFL Players Association representative. "That's how I look at it."
The league apparently agreed.