The NFL has looked at NCAA college football, picked out its most unpopular rule and co-opted it for the pros.

According to’s Ian Rapoport, the NFL will institute automatic ejections for hits to the head, in the spirit of the NCAA’s “targeting” rule.

Previously, the NFL punished helmet-to-helmet and other dangerous hits with 15-yard penalties.

The automatic-ejection rule has great intentions—to protect players from dangerous hits that could be concussive or worse—but has run into some snags at the college level. When officiated to the letter of the law, the rule can be excessively strict, punishing players for hits that don’t look all that malicious (hi, Joey Bosa). And automatic ejections are an incredible harsh penalty for hits that sometimes seem fairly innocuous.

Clearly the NFL is warranted in looking to stamp out Vontaze Burfict-style projectile hits, and maybe that’s what Rapoport means by “egregious,” but if the league legislates this rule as closely as college does, we might soon see a whole lot of ejections.

The NFL faces the impossible task of making a dangerous game safe (or at least appear safe). Measures that protect players from head injuries are good, but in college the punishments don’t always seem to fit the crime. We’ll see what happens the first time an NFL star gets ejected for a not-that-brutal hit.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.