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NFL realizes officials aren’t inclined to eject

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As the NFL prepares to implement the new yellow card rule that will eject players automatically if they commit a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, the broader goal seems to be making the concept of ejection something officials don’t completely disregard. The league nevertheless realizes that the officials prefer not to be responsible for running players off the field.

“That’s a historic mindset of a game official,” NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino said during a visit this week to PFT Live at the league meetings in Boca Raton. “We play 16 games, unlike other sports where there are 80 games or 160 games, and so each one of these, throwing a player out really can swing the balance one way or the other. So our game officials, we just have to continue to work with them that they have that power, and we’ll support them when they exert that power. I think if they know that then they’ll do it when necessary. We don’t want to see a huge spike of ejections, we want it to be there as something we could use when necessary and it doesn’t happen very often but we just have to do it when it warrants it.”

Still, as former NFL official and supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos said during Friday’s PFT Live, game officials remain reluctant to make those decisions in real time, given the potential consequences to the game — and given the absence of replay review for such situations. It arguably makes more sense to defer to the league office for the imposition of discipline in a more objective manner, especially since players have a vehicle for appealing fines and suspensions. Players have no way to appeal ejections.

The league nevertheless remains intent on nudging the officials toward ejecting players for extracurricular conduct directed at opponents, officials, etc.

“It’s really about sportsmanship and we’ve been emphasizing sportsmanship,” Blandino said. “It feels like the last eight or nine years and we haven’t been able to move the needle and fouls continued to climb. This puts more teeth into it, [Rams coach] Jeff Fisher made some great comments during the meeting just to that fact. We need something with more teeth, this provides us that, it’s really something where the player has a choice either to engage or walk away. This isn’t in the heat of the moment trying to make a football play and my aiming point is just a little too high. We feel this will give us another deterrent to get away from the behavior that we just don’t want to see on the field.”

Maybe it will. Or maybe it won’t. By carving out a narrow set of violations that place a player on a two-strike path to the locker room, officials actually may be even more inclined not to eject for one egregious act, opting instead to follow the two-step path. The league hopes that the yellow-card concept will make the officials more willing to whip out the proverbial red card.

With the new approach passed only for one year, the experimental period gives the league office, the Competition Committee, and at least 24 of the 32 teams more time to figure out whether to keep the new rule, revert to a system based on fines and suspensions meted out after the fact, or adopt some other alternative — like a penalty-box concept.

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31 Responses to “NFL realizes officials aren’t inclined to eject”
  1. sportzfan says: Mar 26, 2016 9:30 AM

    I see officials calling fewer fouls as a result. especially early on in a game. they won’t want to give a player a penalty in Q1 knowing that player has 3 more quarters in which to commit another foul. You’ll see a lot more go early in games. Therefore I see a lot of players will take advantage of it in the first half and be super aggressive.

  2. thejuddstir says: Mar 26, 2016 9:38 AM

    If an official is afraid to eject now, how is the new rule going to change their approach? They will be just as afraid to give the second “yellow card.” I still think the hockey approach would be best. Get a personal foul and the player is out of the game for X amount of minutes (when his defense or offense is on the field), get a second foul and out of the game for a longer X amount of minutes. I think officials would have a much easier time enforcing this type of rule as it puts the focus more on the player vs. the official.

  3. nhpats says: Mar 26, 2016 9:42 AM

    Do the owners have a 2-lie policy by which they get to eject Goodell and his cronies?

  4. lewsblues says: Mar 26, 2016 9:43 AM

    dumb that the officials are prohibited from using the replay system to see what actually happened on the field while their eyes may have been focused on another area of the field.

    the cameras are already there …. use them for the benefit of the game.

  5. hahalolrofl says: Mar 26, 2016 9:46 AM

    Emphasizing sportsmanship? Then this rule is truly anathema to fisher and camera newton.

    It is ridiculous fisher was even on the competition committee. If it were realistic, it would have been the cheap shot mediocre forever without repercussions committee.

  6. vottorific says: Mar 26, 2016 9:57 AM

    Whats the big deal? Umps do it in baseball all the time just for arguing balls and strikes!

  7. youknowiknowitall says: Mar 26, 2016 10:03 AM

    “We play 16 games, unlike other sports where there are 80 games or 160 games, and so each one of these, throwing a player out really can swing the balance one way or the other.”
    ————–
    The real reason why NFL HQ NYJ continually target NE for the trivial (spygate) and/or fictitious (framegate).

  8. vicksdawgpound says: Mar 26, 2016 10:08 AM

    Before the change any more rules they need to make sure the referees can handle the rules that they have. There is way to many missed calls and calls for penalties on a play where no penalty was commited. These refs suck and I hate how they allow some players to call there own penalties. They should have focused on getting the refs to do a better job with the rules they have before they change anything.

  9. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Mar 26, 2016 10:08 AM

    “NFL realizes officials aren’t inclined to eject”

    Ya think? The existing rules pertaining to flagrant UR penalties are routinely ignored. What we’ve seen as a result seems like a classic example of spare the rod and spoil the child. No fear means constant escalation. Just to pick one of the more obvious examples there was no excuse for Beckham being allowed to stay in that game. And that’s coming from a Giants guy

  10. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Mar 26, 2016 10:09 AM

    chesswhileyouplaycheckers says:
    Mar 26, 2016 10:08 AM
    “NFL realizes officials aren’t inclined to eject”

    Ya think? The existing rules pertaining to flagrant UR penalties are routinely ignored. What we’ve seen as a result seems like a classic example of spare the rod and spoil the child. No fear means constant escalation. Just to pick one of the more obvious examples there was no excuse for Beckham being allowed to stay in that game. And that’s coming from a Giants guy I work with that is still ticked about it

  11. TheDPR says: Mar 26, 2016 10:09 AM

    Officials need to call whatever penalty they are certain they see. That’s it. The flow of the game or how a call/non-call will affect it should have ZERO bearing on what decision the officials make. When you see it, call it. When you don’t see it, don’t call it.

    It’s not rocket science.

  12. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Mar 26, 2016 10:12 AM

    “NFL realizes officials aren’t inclined to eject”

    Ya think? The existing rules pertaining to flagrant UR penalties are routinely ignored. What we’ve seen as a result seems like a classic example of spare the rod and spoil the child. No fear means constant escalation. Just to pick one of the more obvious examples there was no excuse for Beckham being allowed to stay in that game. And that from a Giants guy I work with that is still ticked about it and talks about it every time the ejection subject comes up.

  13. bullcharger says: Mar 26, 2016 10:12 AM

    It’s not like they will be 11 on 10 after the ejection. It’s not that big of a problem to play without one guy. Teams have to replace good players due to injury in every game.

    A suspension is way worse than an ejection too.

  14. suggahbuggah says: Mar 26, 2016 10:17 AM

    Dear Roger Goodell..California recently passed “Right to Die” legislation..please take full advantage of this once in a lifetime offer.

  15. chriskap11 says: Mar 26, 2016 10:24 AM

    Goodell is not the problem.

    Any athlete needs to know the basis Golden Rule of sports : Respect the official and act with class no matter what age or level! That goes for coaches and owners too.

    Players who get these stupid unsportsmanlike penalties don’t respect their teammates nor coaches and to a greater extent their fan base, rather their egos are bigger than that loyalty

  16. lingsun54 says: Mar 26, 2016 11:32 AM

    The league needs to have officials from the league offices monitoring games so they can make the calls if necessary.

  17. lingsun54 says: Mar 26, 2016 11:36 AM

    The NFL has brought this on themselves by firing long time refs for one bad call. They created a work environment that few would want to be a part of.

  18. randomguy9999 says: Mar 26, 2016 12:03 PM

    don’t see why officials should have to worry about game balance when the players can just simply not act like children

    players don’t act like children, they don’t get ejected, and there isn’t a team balance problem….

    why should the NFL and officials have to babysit them by refraining from throwing the flag?

  19. gwhite13 says: Mar 26, 2016 12:08 PM

    NFL HQ is already in the headsets of on field officials. This will be totally fraught with biased.

    Soon enough a game will be decided by input from 345 Park Ave. in a headset.

  20. mark0226 says: Mar 26, 2016 12:18 PM

    There needs to be a high level official in the booth (not NYC), monitoring the game with all the camera angles and replays. He can be the one to recognize that a foul was blatant or justifies ejection. he can also be the replay review instead of NYC.

  21. rcosborne59 says: Mar 26, 2016 12:54 PM

    And in a related news story the fans of the NFL have determined that Commissioner Goodell isn’t inclined to tell the truth.

  22. danm1978 says: Mar 26, 2016 2:16 PM

    Every personal foul should be reviewed. Got to do it. Turnovers and Scoring plays are reviewed. What could potentially eject a player from the game has to be viewed as a similar game changer.

  23. chriskap11 says: Mar 26, 2016 2:24 PM

    People from New England have quickly forgotten that Goodell protected Kraft and the Patriots by getting rid of evidence when they were recording opposing teams.

    There is no grand conspiracy, there is no grand plan to damage the Patriots. So please stop making every post about rules come back to Kraft, Belicheh, Brady or the Patriots in general

    LET IT GO ALREADY

  24. selfpromotingqb says: Mar 26, 2016 3:25 PM

    4 opposing players were ejected out of Lambeau field last year alone.
    Nice home field advantage

  25. ebdug says: Mar 26, 2016 4:27 PM

    So now a player who spits in someone’s face gets another chance. Nice job running the NFL, gang.

    On the bright side, if the league keeps adopting rules that end up having the exact opposite effect of what they’re trying to do, we might get our sport back.

  26. nelly837 says: Mar 26, 2016 5:49 PM

    I’m putting the over/under at 3 for ejections on Aqib Talib dirtiest player in the NFL. Richard Sherman’s mouth should be good for at least one ejection.

  27. thegreenandcold says: Mar 26, 2016 7:18 PM

    Uh? What? In 2014 there was a Jets player (Wilkerson or Richardson I can’t remember) and Kuechly for striking a ref.

    selfpromotingqb says:
    Mar 26, 2016 3:25 PM
    4 opposing players were ejected out of Lambeau field last year alone.
    Nice home field advantage

  28. jaypell says: Mar 26, 2016 7:40 PM

    There will be 0% change in gameplay and in the game as a whole. You cant control a players temper. Especially in someone such as burfict or Pac man jones, Suh. Etc.

  29. Mo Pro Babble says: Mar 26, 2016 7:47 PM

    chriskap11 says:
    Mar 26, 2016 2:24 PM
    People from New England have quickly forgotten that Goodell protected Kraft and the Patriots by getting rid of evidence when they were recording opposing teams.

    There is no grand conspiracy, there is no grand plan to damage the Patriots. So please stop making every post about rules come back to Kraft, Belicheh, Brady or the Patriots in general

    LET IT GO ALREADY

    About that lie that there is some deep dark secret in the “filmed from the wrong location” tapes and Goodell is protecting the Patriots,

    LET IT GO ALREADY.
    Don’t you get when you’re being played?

  30. bostonlawyer2 says: Mar 27, 2016 7:58 AM

    The only rule that needs changing is the one that appears to allow Goodell to cheat, lie and fabricate.

  31. kamthechancellor says: Mar 27, 2016 10:46 AM

    The NFL sucks now. Mark Cuban is right. The constant rules changes are ridiculous.

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