On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell proposed a soccer-style approach to ejections, with personal fouls becoming essentially yellow cards and two of them getting a player removed from the game. His comments prompted some to go back and research the situations involving players getting multiple personal fouls, calculating the increase in ejections that would have occurred in 2015.
But that assumes the officials would have thrown a second personal-foul penalty on a guy who already had one. For the same reason that officials are reluctant to eject players now, officials will be reluctant to give a player a second personal foul.
Goodell’s proposed formula also would require the league to take another look at the classification of penalties as personal fouls. Should a player be sent to the showers, for example, after a pair of dumb-luck inadvertent facemask grabs?
Another approach, borrowing not from soccer but from hockey, would entail putting the player in a de facto penalty box for a set period of time based on certain safety- or sportsmanship-related infractions. Illegal hit to the head or neck of a defenseless player? Taunting? Pushing and/or shoving and/or throwing a punch? The player exits for 10 or 15 minutes of clock time.
Whatever gets proposed to the Competition Committee, it won’t be easy to get 24 votes. Teams have been reluctant in the past to support aggressive efforts to remove players from the field.
Then there’s the question of whether the league really cares. Based on the way it marketed highlights of the Steelers-Bengals brouhaha on NFL Network, the league likes to have its consternation and flaunt it, too.