Why The Brett Queener Situation Is Actually Good For The Game

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Photo Courtesy of Premier Lacrosse League                                                                                              

“We The Players.” That’s the slogan that the PLL has put at the forefront of their message since the league’s announcement in October of 2018. It’s a message that many players in the league have taken to heart, and while it can mean very different things to different people, it is hard to argue that Chrome LC goalie Brett Queener has not fully exemplified that slogan. 

Over the past week, the story that has dominated the pro lacrosse news cycle has been the hit that Chrome LC goalie Brett Queener laid on Redwoods LC attackman Jules Heningburg in Redwoods 18-7 defeat of Chrome in Albany, as well as the subsequent punishment that Queener received. 

After the hit, there was a scrum and multiple penalties were given out, including eight minutes of worth directed towards Queener. Heningburg was knocked out of the game with a concussion, but it looks like he will be good to return for the playoffs this weekend. 

On Tuesday after Sunday’s game, Queener was handed a one-game suspension and a fine by the league. A punishment that Queener would decide to appeal, as he announced on his Instagram the following the day.

In that post, Queener said, “I am disappointed in the PLL decision to suspend me for 1 game. I will be appeal this decision. I have watched the video of the play and realize the optics of it. If you have ever played professional sports then you understand how fast things happen on the field. This was a bang-bang play and I made a mistake. It was an accidental high hit and nothing more than that. My shaft initially hit his [Jules Heningburg] shoulder and slid up into his neck. My stepping over him after the play, was all due to balance and I was picking up my broken stick. I did not taunt or say anything to Jules at that moment.”

While many fans looked at this statement and brushed it off a case of someone getting their feelings hurt out pouting, Queener has a legit argument that makes sense and if you look at the tape you can see it. Now that does that mean he should be cleared of any punishment? No, but that’s ultimately up to the PLL. 

Now where Queener is one-hundred in the right during this situation is, in fact, this appeal. While appeals happen all the time in the NLL because of the representation players have with the PLPA, appealing any punishment is unprecedented in pro field lacrosse. But what’s also unprecedented here is the PLL handing down any sort of discipline. In fact, the suspension given to Queener is the first we’ve seen and in the opinion of many fans, that should not be the case at all.

Queener is, in fact, changing the game with this decision, and all parties and the game of lacrosse will come out better because of it. This appeal makes the PLL take a step back and not only look at Queener’s suspension but also what they have missed on the officiating side and how it can be improved to help better the league moving forward. 

Nobody ever expects officiating or decisions like this to be near as consistent as they should be, and that’s especially true in a league’s first year. There are certainly changes and improvements to be made for 2020, and Queener may have just jumpstarted the process or at least the PLL’s thinking with this appeal. 

Also, while Queener’s appeal brings light to otherwise grey areas of the PLL’s officiating and discipline process, it also makes pro field lacrosse feel more professional than ever. As previously mentioned, the NLL has appeals all the time just like the NFL, NBA, and NHL. This process being brought to the pro field game in the PLL is fantastic for the continued professionalization of the pro field game, and adds similar conversation to what you hear almost daily in other pro sports. 

In essence, the “crying” that many think Queener is doing about this whole situation actually exemplifies the PLL’s “We the players” slogan perfectly. Just like every other player, Queener has a voice, he is using it, and change will come one way or another because of it.

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