Flagrant hits on defenseless players will result in suspensions

The NFL Competition Committee wants to put players on notice: The league plans to get even more stringent in protecting defenseless players — and suspending players who take cheap shots at their opponent.

Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay and NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Ray Anderson both stressed on a media conference call today that they’re recommending that the owners get even tougher with hits on defenseless players. That includes expanding the definition of what constitutes a “defenseless” player, and suspending players for particularly egregious hits.

“When warranted, suspensions will be an effective discipline for us. We don’t want to go there but we will do that,” Anderson said. “We need to be aggressive in disciplining.”

Although no individual players were mentioned by name, it’s clear that repeat offenders, like Steelers linebacker James Harrison, are going to get particular scrutiny.

“In 2011, if there are repeat offenders or flagrant violators, we are going to hold them aggressively accountable, even if it means suspension — some folks believe that suspension is the real messenger in terms of serious enforcement,” Anderson said. “Some of the hits we had this year, particularly if it’s a repeat offender, that person and that club should know that having that person sit out a game — or multiple games in certain circumstances — is very much on the table.”

McKay said that when the Competition Committee met recently, “Much of the focus was on the safety rules.” In particular, the Committee is recommending that the owners vote next week on an expansion of the defenseless player rule to protect quarterbacks in the process of passing, receivers in the process of catching, runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler, returners fielding a kick, players on the ground at the end of a play, kickers and punters, quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession, and players who get hit by blindside blocks.

The Committee also wants to emphasize the prohibition on launching, which it defines as players leaving their feet, springing forward and hitting an opponent with his helmet or facemask.

Owners are expected to approve the Competition Committee’s recommendations at next week’s league meeting.

84 responses to “Flagrant hits on defenseless players will result in suspensions

  1. Who makes the determination of it being a flagrant hit means more than if it was a flagrant hit. Repeat offenders need not apply for playing hard as usual, you’re already in an “Ongoing probation / Double secret”) status. There is a little known fact the in the annals of the NFL doctorine….

  2. The Competition Committee needs to understand there is no such thing as a “defenseless” player. Stop taking away physicality in the game – instead, add more of it; make teams have to outhit other teams to win; get rid of these tissue-soft Bill Polian-type teams that the league is trying to breed.

  3. Those new defenseless player definitions are ridiculous. “Quarterbacks in the process of passing”? Define “in the process”. Is it as soon as the arm starts going back? “Runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler”? So a defender is just supposed to stand there and hope the runner doesn’t break the tackle? “Kickers, punters and quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession”? So can they even be blocked to keep them from making a tackle? How about just requiring them to run off the field?

    This is going to cause more problems than it solves.

  4. This is a wise PR play by the owners… have the Competition Committee continue to issue new rules intended to protect player safety

    Since player safety is something the players say they are pushing for in negotiations (even though its a red herring compared to financial issues) it will continue to look like the NFL is moving forward in good faith while the NFLPA continues to be FOR litigation and OPPOSED to negotiations

  5. Look at the bright side… the wussification of the NFL will lead to less need for long term healthcare of retired players. So can we take that issue off the CBA table?

  6. “protect quarterbacks in the process of passing”

    Really…all a qb needs to do is pump fake…get hit…and get a 15 yard roughing penalty.

  7. Yeh and make sure the accused gets forced to pay a fine that will go towards all the long term problem of head injuries the NFLPA has recently recognized.

  8. “quarterbacks in the process of passing, receivers in the process of catching”

    You have got to be kidding !

    Fans in the process of taking their wallets elsewhere.

  9. Here come some more retarded rule changes in the name of player safety,wait I got one let’s just do away with real football and HAVE ALL THE PLAYERS PLAY MADDEN AGAINST EACH OTHER that way no one gets hurt….what jackasses

  10. Over/Under on the amount of times someone on the Steelers complains about this rule is set at 15. Taking all bets.

  11. Sadly it’s all about the money with the new breed owners. They don’t care how they butcher or ruin the sport of professional football as long as the can grow their profits.

  12. It would reduce injuries further if they get rid of tackling/contact with ground and allow a play to be called dead when the ball carrier gets hit with seltzer water.

  13. ahhh, keep it up and maybe the players will not care about a lockout and move over to the UFL so that they can play REAL football!

  14. Side note: Are there any players on the Competition Committe or is it just Owners, coaches and NFL personell?

  15. I played football all of my life. I played defensive tackle at 300lbs. Anyone who has played the game knows how difficult it is to stop your momentum when rushing the passer or trying to make a play in coverage. These rules being made expect a linebacker to stop dead and avoid contact at a moments notice when a reciever is “defenseless” reciever. It forces defensive players to be tentative, and if you play defensive in the NFL and you are scared of contact, NFL means not for long.

  16. Players: We risk our health every time we step on the field so we won’t take a pay cut.

    NFL: Look at all the rules we are putting in to make the game safer, so can we have more money now?

  17. “quarterbacks in the process of passing” – So basically no QB hurry stats because they know they can’t be hit while attempting to throw

    “receivers in the process of catching” – No dislodging the ball via contact with the receiver untill they maintain possession

    “runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler”- Runners should now have to go to the ground once wrapped up…no one ever breaks solo tackles right?

    “returners fielding a kick” – No more turnovers on punts… why not just take away punting all together…its safer

    “kickers and punters”- Dont dare rush the kicker or punter or you suspended if you hit them

    “quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession” – They should have to sit down on the field and not attempt to make tackles then if they cannot touch them!

    “players who get hit by blindside blocks”- Shouldn’t be able to run downfield and block someone if they do not want to risk getting blocked themselves!

    This is a joke! I should just go watch my local pee wee team… they have less rules against hitting and who can be hit! These rules are “wussifying” the game as we know it and the legends of the game need to make a stand and say that this version of NFL Lite is garbage, you make very good money and you know the risks!

  18. I don’t think the 1990 Giants would ever survive in today’s league. That was the most physical team I’ve ever seen. They popped anyone near the ball.

  19. I propose some other rule changes since the league has decided a contact sport is too rough.

    Pass rushers must count to 3 before rushing the QB.

    No receiver shall be contacted with until they have made 3 steps after catching the ball and that contact may only be wrapping your arms around him but no tackling, basically a hug.

    No RB shall be brought to the ground at any time and no contact shall be made to the legs.

    While blocking the o-lineman shall not touch the d-lineman they will simply shout “I’m blocking you”.

  20. You tough guys crack me up with all of this hate to protect player safety. Has anyone here actually left there couch and played flag football? Yet it’s being compared to what we watch on Sundays. Seriously guys, you are already internet toughguys, so you already are dumb. Stop adding to it. You will still watch football, even with all the rule changes.

  21. I highly doubt this is the time for owners to vote on new rules that involve the players they are currently locking out.

  22. This is Rome, NFL players are modern day gladiators, and we pay for violence and bloodshed. What don’t they get about this?

  23. One more example of Goodell’s idiocy and stubbornness, and more confirmation that college football has become the harder-hitting, least regulated and more enjoyable to watch of the two brands.

  24. chc4 hit the nail on the head. Lets call a spade a spade. The safer the game, the less they’ll have to pay in medical insurance when these guys retire. Head injuries cost a fortune. Monthly CAT scans for 40 years aren’t cheap.

    I’ll also add that this (among the automatic score replay), makes it easier for owners to fix games. If the NFLPA won’t budge on the pie split, the owners can easily make up the difference in these rule changes.

    And you lemmings still believe that Goodell is looking out for the best interests of the fans. Sheesh you people are dumb.

  25. if players are going to be suspended… then I think coaches should be included… based on what duh Bears Peppers and Briggs did to the Packers Rodgers in the NFCC game… Peppers does a helmet-to-helmet hit, and Briggs does the tomahawk-chop to Rodgers face (not even flagged or fined). That came from the sidelines, so a defensive coach should be suspended too.

  26. Foozie – As a Steelers’ fan, I am sure that you are aware that Rooney comes from a family of bookmakers. Make no mistake, Rooney is one of the flag bearers for these rule changes.

  27. Metaleffect- So you know I played football through high school and flagfootball, 7th-12th grade I was a fullback and DE, I know about contact and flagfootball is full of contact as well, I know the contact is nowhere near the level of the NFL, but I know how getting hit from player of equal skill is like. I also have season tickets… I pay money for a hard hitting game… not a game that is going to be effected by a refereee judgement call (Kind of like the Road game in Chicago that I drove too from Detroit in Wk 1)
    Leave the game alone! The players know what they are getting into… they have been watching and playing there whole life!

  28. they better a concrete definition of what flagrant is and be consistent!!!!!!!!and not repeat last years debacle of inconsistency and fraud

    Wait Goodell being consistent and concrete what am i thinking that will never happen

  29. Just thought I’d like to bring up the fact that suspensions won’t protect the player who has already been crushed by a probably-not-illegal-according-to-the-rules-but-only-flagged-because-the-player-is-being-scapegoated-hit.

    If you want to protect players, make them wear the safest helmets. Make them buckle their chin straps. Make them wear mouthpieces.

  30. On one hand, I kinda agree with the people that say that these fines/flags are getting out of hand, but you gotta think… Troy Polamalu is on of the hardest hitters in the league, but he somehow manages to keep it clean, & within the rules. So, why can’t a guy like James Harrison be held to the same standard? Why does Ryan Clark need to launch himself helmet-first into a guy who’s not even looking at him?

  31. Good to see that even though there is no NFL they are still finding ways to water it down when it comes back.

    “rule to protect quarterbacks in the process of passing,”

    so now you cant hit a QB WHILE hes throwing the ball? how is the defense supposed to stop an offense when theyre not allowed to tackle the players?

  32. I do not know what the makeup of the competition committe is but there should be a player representative (elected by the NFLPA) for each category of DBs, RBs, QBs, LBs, OL, DL and Special teams. There should be a referee representative as well. This should also be true for the in-season rules enforcement. The competition committee output should be binding for the upcoming season with possibly one midseason correction/adjustment. The enforcement committee should make a recommendation to the commissioner. And perhaps appeals to the commisioner’s ruling should be based on whether he deviates from the committee recommendation.
    Lastly, until the League realizes that the players are stakeholders in all aspects of the game, until both sides come to grips with the symbiotic nature of their relationship, they both will continue to diminish the product that to date has fueled their prosperity.

  33. So today there are rumors about kick offs being changed, coaches’ challenges being changed, and suspensions for hits.

    Well, at least someone (the Competition Committee) is earning their money today.

    BUT HOW ABOUT THE REST OF THE NFL PULLS THEIR COLLECTIVE HEADS OUT OF THEIR YOU-KNOW-WHATS AND GET SERIOUS ABOUT THE ONLY THING THAT REALLY MATTERS AT THIS POINT…

    A new CBA.

    As someone who works in the law department of one of the biggest banks in the country I understand that the hearing is set for April 6th, but that doesn’t mean that the two sides can’t keep talking. Happens all the time in the real world.

  34. All the armchair tough guys here on pft are pretty pathetic. Flagrant hits on defenseless players are not part of the game.

    Any suspension should continue for as long as the player who is hit is out — plus two weeks.

  35. “In particular, the Committee is recommending that the owners vote next week on an expansion of the defenseless player rule to protect quarterbacks in the process of passing, receivers in the process of catching, runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler, returners fielding a kick, players on the ground at the end of a play, kickers and punters, quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession, and players who get hit by blindside blocks.”

    So basically any body on the field that might hold or touch the ball cannot be touched???

    Sounds like water polo to me.

  36. Well obviously this is too late, the players already have brain damage that is why we are in this mess

  37. Great! — Here’s The NFL’S new expanded definition of a defenseless player — de·fenseless adj. Any player standing or running or jumping on a football field without a fully armed and trained Marine Infantry in front of them to protect them is here by considered defenseless —– Jeez, I can hardly wait to watch

  38. Actually, this makes complete sense on two points,

    (1) The NFLPA* cannot make critical statements about these rule changes and then continually harp on that the owners are not concerned with their health. Further on that point, the more the owners “make football safer” the less the players can justify a stance regarding the expansin of the season.

    (2) Some of these rule changes make sense. Last season we saw some huge hits aimed at QBs directly after interceptions because players knew they could get away with it because they were “blocking him” from the play. Blindside hits have always been dangerous. They’ve already ensured that blocks in the back are illegal, so why not just extend that one? Furthermore, I’d like to take blocks below the knees completely from the game. A RB rolling at a defender’s knees is allowed as a block but surely is a huge risk to safety? Why not stop that?

    I’d also like to make note of two other associated points.
    (a) We’ll need to see how the rules are written and explained.
    (b) TV and fans (especially those that have grown up on Madden) want to see more scoring. They don’t want to see games where each teams goes 3 and out, punt, 3 and out, punt numerous times. They want to see the ball being thrown and points scored. Surely you’re aware that all the recent rules are intended to increase scoring?

    Welcome to the future.

  39. I have a simple solution to this problem.
    The owners should lockout the players, that way noone gets hurt. Oh wait, thats reality.

  40. This is the most disturbing language i’ve heard yet. If a receiver can’t be hit during a catch I will just stop watching football period. Also “runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler”? So no more gang tackling? Isn’t the whistle for stopping the players from continuing to hit a runner who is not down yet?

  41. isn’t that what safety equipment is for? they are going to ruin the NFL for everyone… the game is too fast to implicate ridiculous rules like this…

  42. As per usual, PFT have missed out some points.
    I suggest you all go over to the ESPN or the NFL website and look at the associated press content. There are a few more words (that Smith either missed or couldn’t be bothered to type in his desire to make poticial capital) on some points.

    Such as, the running back in the grasp and his forward progress halted. In other words, stopping those players that start pushing the pile backwards after the play has ended. It doesn’t change the spot of the ball, nor anything else. It is just another moment when a player can get injured.

  43. I’d be a lot more in favor of this if they tightened up the consideration of what a “flagrant” hit is. Stiffer penalties but under more specific circumstances would make a lot more sense. The way this is shaping up makes it seem like suspensions are coming after any hit where the opposing player falls down hard enough.

  44. So you’re meaning to tell me that a defensive end, outside linebacker or even a corner or safety can’t come off the edge, unblocked, “cleanly” hit a quarterback while he is passing to cause a sack-strip? Are you kidding me?!

  45. If they are going to start suspending players for so called “defenseless hits” then they better start doing the same to the refs who make blatant bad calls time and time again because they don’t understand the rules themselves. Now they want to add in more “defenseless situations” for the refs to manage? Give me a break.

    Anybody watch the Pro Bowl this year? That’s the future of Pro Football….very very sad.

  46. jakek2 says: Mar 16, 2011 12:06 PM

    “Foozie – As a Steelers’ fan, I am sure that you are aware that Rooney comes from a family of bookmakers.”

    OK, you got me there, but I don’t know about Rooney personally being behind these changes.

  47. brambo67 says:

    “(b) TV and fans (especially those that have grown up on Madden) want to see more scoring. They don’t want to see games where each teams goes 3 and out, punt, 3 and out, punt numerous times. They want to see the ball being thrown and points scored. Surely you’re aware that all the recent rules are intended to increase scoring?”

    I have grown up watching football and playing Madden and, while I can only speak for myself, I do not belive more points makes the game more entertaining. Defense is half the game and if the offense cannot figure out a way to score points without the rule change, why should they be assisted to scoring more? Defense is no less important that offense and if you keep giving advantages to the offense, and suspending defensive players in the process, the talent level on defense will dissappear. What kid would rather grow up to play CB than WR knowing that the WR has every possible advantage on him? Why would you rather play defensive line than offensive line? Why field a defense at all? So they can stop the offense from scoring on maybe 3 or 4 drives a game?

    If you want to suspend players for hitting defensless receivers, fine protect the players. But there is absolutely no safety precaution that results in more points. The rules which favor the offense are to generate more money. Period.

  48. I thought NFL football was a contact sport ! They are ruining the game to the point that no one is going to pay to watch it….are they really not smart enough to figure that out ??

  49. It’s been said before, but I suspect that most of us fans would prefer that rather than EXPAND the definitions, just CLARIFY the damn things – so we can have CONSISTENCY.

    Say what you want about his play style, but if James Harrison (or whatever hard-hitting player you prefer) knows what will be flagrant and what will not, AND that he’s only going to be called for the former, AS WILL EVERY OTHER player in that situation, then I bet even he’d be willing to adjust his play as needed. Same thing with fines and suspensions (especially for UNflagged hits).

  50. Next up for the NFL … replacing the challenge flag (which sounds so aggressive) with a dialog circle so that coaches, players and referees can air their differences in a supportive, nurturing environment that will foster growth and acceptance of sides with a difference of opnion.

  51. Gee … how did I know I’d find a photo of James here? 😆

    The rule allowing players to be ejected for ruthless hits has been on the books for at least three years but was never used. Now the league wants to make a show of suspending players? When are they going to make a show of correcting officiating so the refs get these calls right??

    With the owners locking everyone out and suspending play, maybe we’ll have plenty of time to watch the NCAA and see how booth review works. It might give these dimwits on the Competition Committee some ideas. It’s bad enough to fine my guys for legal hits. They’d bloody well not be suspending them for legal hits! 😡

  52. In a game based on collisions, players will inevitably get hurt. If you try to eliminate the core aspect of any game you change the game itself. I don’t think anybody truly condones the flagrant cheap shots. The guys who intend on injuring another player should be banned rather than suspended. Haynesworth’s head stomp should have ended his career before that game was over. Seymour’s cheap shot on big Ben and the fracus between Johnson and Finnegan should have ended their seasons without further pay. Hard hitting is enjoyed by all fans of the game. Nobody really wants this game to be turned into a strictly intellectual strategy session but it seems the competition committee is trying to do just that. How about putting a couple fans with some common sense on that committee? Stop adding gray areas to what should be simple black & white stuff. The rules being written by lawyers always have some stupid loophole or technicality that can be exploited. 20 years ago, nobody was confused on what constituted a catch, fumble, possession, TD, etc. Now, the safety police are taking things too far. It’s like saying that fireman are not allowed to fight a fire until it is extinguished in order to make their jobs safer.

  53. Players risk injury and owners risk revenue loss as a result of those injuries. I’m pretty sure that all concerned were aware of the inherent risks involved before they chose to participate.

    Just make up a new league with all the no contact rules. I’m sure people would gladly pay to see the Pittsburgh Pansies, Buffalo Ballerinas, Indianapolis Intellectuals, Miami Mundane and the Dallas Debaters go at it.

    If this game continues to change it will soon be less interesting than the old school game where you position all the players and turn on the vibrating field until the guy with the ball falls over.

  54. FinFan68 says: Mar 16, 2011 3:45 PM

    Players risk injury and owners risk revenue loss as a result of those injuries. I’m pretty sure that all concerned were aware of the inherent risks involved before they chose to participate.

    Just make up a new league with all the no contact rules. I’m sure people would gladly pay to see the Pittsburgh Pansies, Buffalo Ballerinas, Indianapolis Intellectuals, Miami Mundane and the Dallas Debaters go at it.

    If this game continues to change it will soon be less interesting than the old school game where you position all the players and turn on the vibrating field until the guy with the ball falls over.

    ____________________________________

    Sorry, but when players get injured another steps into the breach. Sometimes a better player is found because the incumbent was injured – think Brady replacing Bledsoe in NE.

    And the loss of players doesn’t effect revenue. Sad but true. When Manning departs the Colts the fans will still turn up. Attendance won’t fall unless they start losing 13 or 14 games a season regularly.

    Being a fan is like an addiction.

    And as for those that state they want to see defensive battles instead of 49-42 games that’s a nice sentiment, but the games people remember best are high scoring games full of touchdowns, with the major statistics associated. And when the NFL wants to grow it’s market high scoring works best.

    Remember, an NFL game is 3 hours long (sometimes more). Watching on TV you need a constant buzz of excitement. TV wants and NEEDS high scores to expand the audience. A 7-6 defensive game might be a real treat to the fan who considered himself a true connoisseur of the NFL but doesn’t bring in new fans. Sad but true.

    I know this from watching test cricket. As what I consider a true fan I can watch 7 hours a day for 5 days and still be fine with a drawn game. But such as me is decreasing in number. The casual observer and youngster is happier with Twenty20 where the game last just 3 hours or a little more. Lots of scoring and fast paced.

    I’m a dinosaur, but I understand the need to innovate.

  55. To boil this all down, what I got out of it is even if there is a CBA before the season begins, there will be no more football. I never thought it would come to this having watched football since the 60s. But it seems I’m going to get a lot more done around the house this fall.

    What anyone else does with their time is their business but they won’t be watching football.

    As for Roger Goodell, I’m hoping that nature will take it’s course.

  56. After reading the article what I got out of the situation is even if there is a CBA before the season there will no longer be any football. I never thought it would happen watching football since the 60s but I think I’m going to get a lot more done around the house this fall.

  57. Deion Sanders would be the best player of all time in this league, this new league…a league without tackling. Somewhere Asante Samuel is smiling too.

  58. The UFL will respond by paying bonuses to its players for every hit of the sort that the NFL has outlawed. This will bring in all the hard-hitting players who are sick of all those pillows on the field, and drive the NFL out of business.

  59. But then again! I’ve decided not to go or watch anymore football!! Pat yourselves on the back players and owners! Fans are starting to see through your bull! And are starting to drop like flies!!

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