With an increased spotlight on concussions and a playoff season marred by the Bengals-Steelers fight, it is becoming clear the NFL is taking a much tougher stance on violent conduct in its game. Part of that is apparently a “reminder” to their officials that they have much greater discretion in ejected players from games.
Pro Football Talk notes that the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino is giving that very directive to the officials, putting pressure on them to eject players for flagrant violations of the rulebook, per Peter King’s MMQB site.
“We will reaffirm that the rulebook does allow us some discretion when it comes to ejection,” Blandino said. “We’ll make sure they understand that they have that power and they shouldn’t shy away when it is necessary.”
This news comes on the heels of the news that the NFL’s competition committee is taking up a two-strike rule when it comes to personal fouls. Under this rule, two personal foul penalties would automatically equal an ejection from the game. Those personal foul penalties that qualify are expected to be around 5 per reports.
It’s a controversial move, with players like Richard Sherman coming out harshly against the change in the rule for ejections. Sherman believes its a rule change made up by someone who doesn’t understand what it takes to play the game — and that’s putting it mildly.
“I think it’s foolish,” he said. “But it sounds like something somebody who’s never played the game would say, something that they would suggest, because he doesn’t understand. He’s just a face. He’s just a suit. He’s never stepped foot on the field and understood how you can get a personal foul.”
However, even if the proposed rule change doesn’t happen, it is clear that the NFL doesn’t want to see incidents like the Bengals-Steelers playoff game or the one that took place between New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Gordon.
Ejecting players quicker for actions like those can prevent further escalation of violent conduct on the field. Doing so is a wise move for a league at a tipping point when it comes to violence by its players on and off the field.