The NFL didn’t need a vote of the owners to make one significant change this week, as certain dangerous hits on the field can now be cause for ejections.
The Competition Committee recommendation that ejections or suspensions be implemented for certain illegal hits will be added as a point of emphasis this year, meaning it didn’t require a vote from owners to become part of the landscape.
Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said he didn’t think the measure was a sign the league had a huge problem, but that there were examples of three or four “egregious” hits last year that needed harsher punishment, since fines weren’t making them go away.
“We don’t typically get ejections for football plays during a game, we get ejections for other reasons but not football plays — we recommend suspension even for a first-time offense,” McKay said. “Why? Because the hits were very egregious, to be quite frank.
“We quite frankly just want to get any of those hits out of the game. We think one way to get them out of the game is suspension because we think that is the ultimate deterrent to all players to not have those type of plays occur. We didn’t have very many of them. We don’t expect it to happen a lot. But it was a point of emphasis and it will be looked at this year.”
Eagles punt returner Darren Sproles being laid out by Washington safety Deshazor Everett was one of the examples they cited. Everett was penalized on the field and fined later in the week but not suspended.
But enforcing a new edict will still carry the burden of interpretation, giving officials more gray area to wade through, along with the inherent pressure of ejecting a player.