Around the League

NFL to consider adding targeting rule that could lead to ejection for hitting defenseless player

(Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer)

The NFL will look into adding a targeting rule that would require mandatory ejection for players who hit defenseless opponents above the shoulder, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said on Wednesday.

“I think it’s something that we have to consider,” Troy Vincent said, during a conference call with reporters.

The framework of the rule, in place since 2013 in college football, is on the February 2018 agenda of the NFL’s competition committee.

“We’ve seen it work, it’s worked to a degree, it’s clean,” Vincent said. “That play is a reviewable play at the collegiate level. But we think there’s been some positives, talking to some of the conferences and the officials [at the NCAA level] and also some of the student-athletes, that it is a deterrent. It’s something that we will consider. It is on our agenda.”

The rule has faced criticism from some college coaches, players and fans who consider it too harsh and rigid for what in some cases is unavoidable contact. If the hit occurs in the first half, players are ejected from games and their teams are hit with a 15-yard penalty. If ejected in the second half, they are also suspended for the first half of the following game. The call is reviewed by replay officials to ensure players are not ejected by an obviously incorrect call.

Vincent also said that coaches, general managers, owners and players are adamant about not wanting players ejected from games unless there is no other option.

“We don’t want to be in the business of ejecting players,” Vincent said.

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