Walden's appeal of head-butt suspension denied

Rich Nye interviews Erik Walden
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Colts linebacker Erik Walden had his appeal of a one-game suspension for head-butting Titans tight end Delanie Walker denied Tuesday. Under the suspension, Walden is not allowed to practice this week nor play in the Colts' game this Sunday on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. Walden will be reinstated on Monday.

"We trust the process and see what happens," Walden said Monday night before a Colts community event where he spent time with children whose mothers have been victims of domestic violence. "I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that everything will be positive."

Walden would not say why he appealed the suspension, or his grounds for the appeal. But the loss of a one-game paycheck would cost him $176,471.59, or 1/17th of his $3 million base salary.

"It's just an unfortunate situation," said Walden. "I never meant for it to happen. I'm definitely remorseful about how things went. I wish I could have handled things differently. You never want to put your teammates and organization, your family and myself in a position like that."

Walden requested an expedited appeals hearing and decision. The appeal was heard and decided by former player Matt Birk, one of the hearing officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and players union to decide such appeals.

The NFL handed down the one-game suspension without pay Monday. Walden received an unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter of last Thursday night's game against the Tennessee Titans. He ripped off Walker's helmet during the play, and then head-butted Walker's unprotected face. The league says both actions are violations of the playing rules.

After the game, Walker called Walden's actions "bush league" and said Walden should have been ejected from the game. Walker believed Walden was frustrated by the tight end winning their one-on-one matchup during the game.

"You can't - no matter how frustrated you are, no matter how the game's going, no matter what the guy did to you - you cannot retaliate," said Colts coach Chuck Pagano the day after the game. "You can't pull guys' hats off. You can't take swings. You have to keep your composure. You have to keep your poise, no matter what the situation. He knows that. Erik's a grown man, he's accountable and he understands that. He doesn't want to do anything to hurt this team. It's frustration."