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Taylor Mays takes hit from Congressman Dan Lungren

October 28, 2009 |  6:22 pm

USC safety Taylor Mays got blindsided today by Congressman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on NFL head injuries.

Fabforum Lungren, a Notre Dame alum, first talked about former Oakland Raiders player Jack Tatum setting the bar for hits designed to injure. Then he moved on to complaining about Florida quarterback Tim Tebow being rushed back from a concussion, and finally to Mays.

The congressman didn't identify Mays by name, but said while attending a Notre Dame game a couple of weeks ago he "saw a headhunter on the field" rip the helmet off a player. Listen to his comments here (at about the 2:38.00 mark).

Lungren also got his facts wrong. He said there was not a penalty called on the play, but there was. On the play he was referring to, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed a pass to Robby Parris, who had his helmet knocked off when Mays hit him from behind. Mays was called for a personal foul, which moved the ball from the USC 16 to the 8 with less than a minute left.

Lungren then correctly pointed out that last Saturday Mays knocked the helmet off another receiver, Oregon State's James Rodgers, on a play the Beavers scored a touchdown. There was not a penalty called on that play, and the Pacific 10 Conference on Monday announced it had suspended the official who should have made a call.

USC Coach Pete Carroll defended Mays this week, saying that on the play against Oregon State Mays had no intent to injure and was "just reaching out and a guy going by him and [the helmet is] all he got. That's all that happened on that."

Mays said, "I didn't mean to rip the dude's helmet off. Right after it happened, I got up and said, 'Hey, I wasn't trying to be dirty.' [Rodgers] knew that and I knew that."

Rodgers, who was poked in the eye and suffered a chip tooth on the play, wrote about it on, saying he did "not have a problem with Taylor Mays for snatching my helmet off. It's all good. He was trying to make a play and unfortuately in the process of that he pulled my helmet off. We are cool. I talked to him after the game and I assure you that he didn't do it on purpose."

-- Mike Hiserman

Photo: Dan Lungren. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press