Last year, the NFL gave the league office something it never before had: The power to eject players during a game. This year, the Competition Committee has proposed a major expansion of that power.
Here’s the key language from the very bottom of the list of proposed rule changes: “By Competition Committee; to amend Rule 15, Section 1, Article 5 to allow League personnel to disqualify for both flagrant football and non-football acts.”
Currently, the league office may eject players only for flagrant non-football acts, such as incidents that occur after a play. The new proposal would allow the league office to eject players for flagrant violations of the playing rules, such as striking a defenseless player in the head or neck area or lowering the helmet and ramming an opponent.
It’s a very significant change, deftly tucked into the very bottom of the list of proposed rule changes, an oh-by-the-way suggestion from the Competition Committee following the various snowball’s-chance proposals from individual teams.
If adopted, the proposal could move the league much closer to the NCAA’s “targeting” formula, which results in periodic ejections for players who use their helmets in an unsafe way after a brief pause in the action to await the verdict on whether a player will be making an early trip to the showers.
There’s another potentially significant facet of the proposal: As summarized, it doesn’t limit the power to eject to situations in which a foul is called. Currently, the league office may eject for flagrant non-football acts only if the on-field officials penalize the conduct. It’s possible that the league office will soon have the power to eject for football and non-football acts, regardless of whether a flag was thrown.