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Proposed “yellow card” rule could be window dressing

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As originally articulated by Commissioner Roger Goodell, the league would eject a player who racks up a pair of personal fouls in the same game. As proposed by the Competition Committee, the two-strikes/yellow card approach applies to a much more narrow band of behavior.

The categories are so limited that, as MDS noted on Friday, only two players would have been ejected during the 2016 season for the specific types of unsportsmanlike conduct that fall under what is, despite the total number of words involved, a fairly small umbrella: throwing a punch, forearm, or kicking an opponent, even if no contact is made; using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the NFL; or using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.

So in 256 regular-season games last year, only two players would have been ejected if this rule were in place. And that’s with the officials not knowing that a two-strike/yellow card rule was in place.

With the officials aware of the consequences of a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, they’ll be more careful when it comes to throwing the first one. They’ll be much more careful when it comes to throwing the second.

Officials don’t want to eject players, because officials don’t want to affect the competitive balance of a game. Doing the job is hard enough under normal circumstances. If/when (when) all hell breaks loose during a post-play scrum, it becomes even harder to know who has done what to whom and when.

What if they make a mistake as to who threw a punch? What if the official is simply upset in the heat of the moment because he got shoved or knocked down?

The officials would prefer that the league office study the film and make dispassionate assessments and mete out punishment accordingly. It’s more reliable factually, and it’s also more fair to the players, since they can appeal a suspension but can’t appeal an ejection.

These realities make the new rule, as a practical matter, meaningless. If two players would have been ejected last year under a formula that didn’t exists, how many will be ejected this year? The over/under is 0.5, and we’ll take the under.

Which may be what the NFL wants as it tries to continue having it both ways, wagging a finger at misconduct with one hand and counting the money that comes from the extra drama and intrigue with the other.

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37 Responses to “Proposed “yellow card” rule could be window dressing”
  1. streetyson says: Mar 19, 2016 11:09 AM

    I don’t understand why refs aren’t more keen to eject players – after all, it’s not like soccer or rugby where if a guy is sent off the team cannot put someone else on in their place!

    Another idea to consider is the rugby-style “sin-bin” – the NFL could bench an offender for the quarter (or 15mins from the point of the offense).

  2. bullcharger says: Mar 19, 2016 11:11 AM

    In my humble opinion you are missing the point . Like in soccer, the first yellow card puts you in a precarious spot where you can pick up a second and may not play freely.

    In the NFL I think that equates to players not committing purposeful fouls that they know would put them at risk of ejection of a second we’re to occur. It will immediately reduce dirty plays.

  3. lscottman3 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:12 AM

    I seem to recall a Monday night game a few years back when a player inadvertently bumped an official and he threw him out immediately

    I think it was a Green Bay player

    What was that all about?

  4. kcchefs58 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:16 AM

    I’m still not sure why they call this game “football” when the ball is kicked only a few times a games and sometimes kicking the ball is illegal and draws a flag.

  5. tremoluxman says: Mar 19, 2016 11:18 AM

    This proposed rule will result in fewer personal foul calls because there is no way Refs or the NFL want players, especially ‘high value’ players tossed.
    This is all show.
    If anything, the new rule will actually result in more unruly and outrageous behavior because players will know that the Refs will be very reluctant to toss a player.

  6. huh6016 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:25 AM

    the refs always influence the outcome of games, so I don’t get that argument. The refs had way more influence on the Broncos winning the Super Bowl than Manning did, just sayin……..

  7. fineswisswatches says: Mar 19, 2016 11:25 AM

    Games getting weirder and weirder!

  8. kd75 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:26 AM

    Give this rule some teeth. Throw a few players out in week 1. People will get the message.

  9. celticsforever says: Mar 19, 2016 11:28 AM

    The Competition Committee thinks that it’s mandate every year is to tweak, change, alter and convolute the game as much as possible. I shudder (laugh actually, because I won’t be watching) at what the rules will look like by 2025.

  10. lingsun54 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:30 AM

    I’m sure the league tells the refs how they want the games officiated. So if the league doesn’t want players ejected then they won’t be. The league has always been reluctant to eject, suspend, or fine players a sufficient amount.

    Hopefully enough owners will be concerned about the safety of their own players to force the refs to eject the idiots who need to be ejected.

  11. doggeatdogg says: Mar 19, 2016 11:31 AM

    It’s like calling traveling on Dwayne Wade or Lebron James. The refs won’t call it if it results on fouling out of the game.

  12. thejuddstir says: Mar 19, 2016 11:34 AM

    All the “if this then that but maybe not……” is just further proof that American “sports” are more entertainment than actual sport. Soccer is the number one sport in the world and seems to have little problem enforcing the 2 yellow card penalty and they do it with only one official on the field and no instant replay to assist them. NFL owners learned long ago that in America, entertainment with stars makes more money than sport with athletes. One only needs to look at how marginal players are cut from the roster for even minor offenses or allegations but but the “stars” are given chance after chance to commit even more serious crimes.

  13. froray53 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:36 AM

    I’d be happy with a hockey approach. If a player does a personal foul that is along the lines of fighting they are out for a specified number of plays on their side of the ball (defensive player out for 10 defensive plays). This way it penalizes the player for losing their head but they are not out for the rest of the game.

  14. j0esixpack says: Mar 19, 2016 11:37 AM

    I challenge any owner to publicly state that Roger Goodell has “unquestioned integrity” and thus, per NFL rules, is qualified to be Commissioner, as required under Article 8

    If the NFL won’t follow their own rules, why should the players?

    Fire Goodell and hire someone with “unquestioned integrity” to wipe clean the tarnish of Goodell

  15. roadtrip3500 says: Mar 19, 2016 11:45 AM

    So in 256 regular-season games last year, only two players would have been ejected if this rule were in place.

    The point of the proposed rule is not to toss players. Its premise is to be a deterrent. When you know going in that two of these sends you back to the locker room – as in soccer (yellow cards) and basketball (technical fouls) – you adapt so as not to get such a foul. The majority of players behave themselves, and the proposed rule will not only keep it that way, but will likely add to the ranks of the behaved from those guys who may have crossed the line once or twice in their career but now “get it”. It’s generally the same handful of guys who get flagged/fined/suspended repeatedly, and if the existing rules aren’t stopping them, this won’t either.

  16. dontouchmyjunk says: Mar 19, 2016 11:50 AM

    I’m in favor of the NFL ejecting players. Coaches too. No other sport is immune to player ejection. Of course, a routine play in football is cause for ejection – if not arrest – in any other sport. So the line is drawn pretty far down the road of civil human behavior. If you get ejected from a game of football, you’re a bleepin’ animal.

  17. yooperman says: Mar 19, 2016 11:50 AM

    As far as who or what started the event. Do like college hockey or basketball, and review the play BEFORE making the wrong call.

  18. izzysydbas says: Mar 19, 2016 11:53 AM

    Oh great let’s just turn the NFL into soccer. Heck the Pro-Bowl featured one handed touch so why not just go to that full time.

    Aren’t the officials capable of determining if a foul merits ejection? We don’t need more rules. Where will this rule be in the rule book? Page 3,742 – paragraph 23 – section 28.4.6.2a. Ridiculous.

  19. bmoreb says: Mar 19, 2016 11:55 AM

    kcchefs58 says:
    Mar 19, 2016 11:16 AM

    I’m still not sure why they call this game “football” when the ball is kicked only a few times a games and sometimes kicking the ball is illegal and draws a flag.
    __________________________________

    I’ll clear this up for you. First and foremost to start each game, second half and overtime the first thing that has to happen is a foot connecting to the ball.

    After each (over 95%) TD a foot is connecting to the ball.

    A game can and has been won/lost with a foot connecting to the ball.

    The game’s crowning moment (the Super Bowl, so you don’t have to then have something else to wonder about) can and has been won/lost with a foot connecting to the ball.

    So, I think the game is properly named. Sure, other names could have worked but football works just fine.

  20. Nofoolnodrool says: Mar 19, 2016 12:01 PM

    I challenge any owner to publicly state that Roger Goodell has “unquestioned integrity” and thus, per NFL rules, is qualified to be Commissioner, as required under Article 8

    If the NFL won’t follow their own rules, why should the players?

    Fire Goodell and hire someone with “unquestioned integrity” to wipe clean the tarnish of Goodell

    Just another butt hurt Pats fan that can’t deal with everyone thinking his team is a bunch of cheaters. What a constant crying whack job.

  21. FinFan68 says: Mar 19, 2016 12:08 PM

    Officials don’t want to eject players, because officials don’t want to affect the competitive balance of a game.
    ~~~~~~~~~
    That is not their responsibility. The officials are responsible for ensuring the game is played within the rules and throwing the flag when it isn’t. If that thought process ever sways the decision then the game is being officiated unfairly, which is a much bigger problem than a guy getting ejected for hazardous actions on the field. It is the players’ and teams’ responsibility to consider the consequences, not the officials.

  22. frankmalzonefan says: Mar 19, 2016 12:09 PM

    IMO this issue doesn’t address a critical part of the equation: the officials themselves. For as long as the League uses a relatively small number of middle aged guys who work on a part time basis to officiate a game where players are either motoring around the field at Olympic sprinter speeds or are involved in a collective 10 – man wrestling matches there are going to egregious things that go unpenalized and instances of “embellishment” that result in ejection. In those sports where a referee can eject a player as a routine matter, the primary official is less advanced in age and a lot more fit (e.g., soccer refs and hockey refs/linesmen). Asking a sixty year old guy who’s practically stationary, like the referee or the umpire, to make the snap decision to toss a guy during the two or three seconds it takes for a running play to develop is a tall order.

    The League probably should use full time officials who maintain a high level of fitness, increase the number of game officials by two and leverage technology where they can, for example with goal line/pylon cameras, to reduce the load on human officials by having machines make the no – brainer calls.

  23. jag1959 says: Mar 19, 2016 12:19 PM

    “Which may be what the NFL wants as it tries to continue having it both ways, wagging a finger at misconduct with one hand and counting the money that comes from the extra drama and intrigue with the other.”

    ^This is what it is all about. Player safety ’cause integrity harumph, harumph! But in reality this rule only adds teeth to stop players running their mouths or taunting, not safety. It’s not about how it is, it’s about how it looks. No rule changes are necessary from a player protection standpoint. The existing rules allow for an ejection for any UR penalty deemed flagrant or a deliberate attempt to injure.

  24. randomguy9999 says: Mar 19, 2016 12:31 PM

    they should make it much more broad so it has an actual effect toward eliminating such radical behavior as we’ve seen repeatedly last year.

    competition committee doing it halfway again

  25. fordmandalay says: Mar 19, 2016 1:09 PM

    Of course it’s utter nonsense and window dressing, designed to make it look like they’re doing something when they’re actually doing nothing.

  26. kstormplace says: Mar 19, 2016 1:22 PM

    I will take the over. Reason why in just two words: Vontaze Burfict.

  27. edelmanfanclub says: Mar 19, 2016 2:26 PM

    Wow. If this happens I can no longer defend american football as the proper use of the term football.

  28. omegalh says: Mar 19, 2016 2:49 PM

    Personal fouls should result in the player not able to play again until the possession ends.

  29. justintuckrule says: Mar 19, 2016 2:58 PM

    Another misguided rule. Players will just wait until the end to haul off on one another knowing they still have their get out of jail free card.

  30. ebdug says: Mar 19, 2016 4:39 PM

    Even if the scheme did work as designed the officials would abandon the option to eject a player base on a single cheap shot.

  31. therealraider says: Mar 19, 2016 5:00 PM

    doggeatdogg says:
    Mar 19, 2016 11:31 AM
    It’s like calling traveling on Dwayne Wade or Lebron James. The refs won’t call it if it results on fouling out of the game.

    ____________________________

    It would be the equivelent of two technicals since it applies only to Personal Fouls and not every yellow flag penalty.

  32. nhpats says: Mar 19, 2016 7:17 PM

    froray53 says:
    Mar 19, 2016 11:36 AM
    I’d be happy with a hockey approach. If a player does a personal foul that is along the lines of fighting they are out for a specified number of plays on their side of the ball (defensive player out for 10 defensive plays). This way it penalizes the player for losing their head but they are not out for the rest of the game.

    ———
    In hockey the team must play short-handed for a duration or untithe other team scores. Are you proposing this for the NFL as well?

  33. armchairqb says: Mar 19, 2016 8:29 PM

    Please don’t bring soccer crap into the NFL.

  34. commiecensorshiponpft says: Mar 19, 2016 10:46 PM

    2 tech’s and your out is NBA.

  35. fineswisswatches says: Mar 20, 2016 12:58 AM

    Game keeps getting weider and weider.

  36. tyconderoguer says: Mar 20, 2016 12:19 PM

    Maybe somebody should explain to Roger what is fair.

  37. tyconderoguer says: Mar 20, 2016 12:24 PM

    nhpats

    That’s the best idea here because BB would have that happen once and the player would end up in Arizona or the like. Bye Chandler

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