The NFL’s proposal for tying ejections to a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct officially has been tabled. Unofficially, there’s a good chance it’s dead.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a show of hands during Tuesday’s meetings made it clear that roughly half the teams are opposed to the plan. With 24 votes necessary to transform a proposal into a rule, that resulted in the matter being put on the back burner. Still, the more accurate description is that it flat-out failed.
It could still return, given that it’s a pet project of Commissioner Roger Goodell. As the source explained it, the intentions are good, but the rule could create plenty of unintended consequences.
The basketball example that often is mentioned in support of the rule, with players having a certain number of fouls to give before being sent off, could make football players view their situation the same way, making the specter of being ejected more nonchalant and less serious than it currently is. Also, there’s a concern that teams will bait an opposing player who picks up an early unsportsmanlike-conduct foul, in the hopes of getting him to be flagged again — and in turn to be taken off the field.
The proposal therefore may need some work before enough teams will agree to it. Regardless, getting a rule of this kind adopted will take much greater effort and persuasion than previously believed.