Before the 2018 annual meeting, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported that the NFL would not be adopting a college-style targeting rule, allowing ejections for the use of the helmet as a weapon to be imposed by someone other than the on-field officials. That position appears to be on the verge of changing.
Maske reported on Monday that ejections by officials under the rule that prevents lowering of the helmet to initiate contact will be subject to replay review. The unanswered question (for now) is whether failures to eject will be correctable via replay review, allowing 345 Park Avenue to buzz the referee and to instruct the referee to remove a player from the field when deemed necessary.
Given the stated importance of the new helmet rule, why wouldn’t the NFL allow missed ejections that would have been subject to replay review to be imposed via replay review? Thus, a de facto targeting rule will become the next logical step as the very broad lowering-the-helmet rule adopted secretly last month by the NFL’s owners becomes shaped and contoured by an even less transparent process that trades debate for mandate, and that risks fundamentally altering pro football as we know it.