Potential ejections on “egregious” hits

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2017 – 2:44 pm

Among the rules changes/updates made by the NFL owners Tuesday at their spring meetings here at the Arizona Biltmore was the decision to make as a point of emphasis the existing rule that “egregious” hits come with an ejection and/or a suspension even for first-time offenders.

That’s always a fine line. It makes sense, with the league trying to find ways to get safer, like banning leaps over the line to block kicks. In this case, the league hopes to have players more wary of going in for an “egregious” hit knowing an ejection may be forthcoming. (USA Today quoted Giants president John Mara as saying there were only about four such plays last year.) The problem, of course, is that for the player it isn’t always easy to make that call in the moment — like when Deone Bucannon, money linebacker, hit Bengals receiver A.J. Green in 2015, wasn’t penalized but was later fined for the hit. Bucannon had a similar bang-bang play against the Chargers in the 2016 preseason, but that was deemed clean.

“If you’re over there tip-toeing and trying to do everything perfect, that’s going to make you a worse player,” Bucannon said during 2016 training camp. “I’m not thinking about, ‘Oh, man, what the consequences are.’ I’ve got so many things I need to think about. I need to think about what I’m doing within the defense to help my team win the game. And then on top of that, you expect me in point-one second to (decide where to deliver a hit)? I can’t think about all that at the same time, but I’m going to train my body through practice so I can understand.”

D.J. Swearinger, now in Washington, had a couple of big hits this past season, but they were clean. It is still possible to do such things. The first time a player is actually booted for a hit, however, will make for a huge story.

UPDATE: Competition committee chairman Rich McKay emphasized that the consideration today was meant as a deterrent. “Don’t take that there could be a suspension for first-time offenders as ‘We’ve got a problem,’ ” McKay said. “We had three or four plays we showed the union, showed our coaches, and we recommended, that if a player isn’t ejected on the field — and that’s a difficult thing, we don’t get a lot of ejections for football plays — we recommend a suspension even for a first-time offense. … We don’t expect it to happen a lot, but it was a point of emphasis.”


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6 Responses to “Potential ejections on “egregious” hits”

  1. By Richard S on Mar 28, 2017 | Reply

    There are a lot of hits where they say helmet to helmet which are later shown to be no such thing. I can understand the reason for it though with Dwight Clark coming down with ALS. The only one I personally knew who came down with ALS was a genius fullback on the college football team who maintained a 4.0 GPA in Mechanical Engineering. He died at a very young age. Of course the fullbacks job back then was to make the contact, so the halfback had a free running lane. RIP Bob Nicodemus. I remember him asking me why I didn’t go out for college football when he saw three fellow pledges trying to take me to the ground and they couldn’t. My answer: We never had a high school team. That may have been a good thing.

  2. By georgiebird on Mar 28, 2017 | Reply

    Talking about slowing the game down. With such a stiff penalty, I can see a 10 minute review.

  3. By Richard S on Mar 28, 2017 | Reply

    I just remembered another time when Nico paid me to go cover a high school track meet for him. I was supposed to be announcing over the PA system and when I was told to announce Class M and S High Hurdlers please report, the M from the speakers bounced back when the S was about to come out of my mouth and instead I announced Class M&M High Hurdlers report. My high school coach on the field about cracked up.

  4. By clssylssy on Mar 28, 2017 | Reply

    While I understand the “in theory” behind this, at the same time, I think the system where the players got two calls before getting ejected was more than adequate, I grew up in a time of real physical, smash mouth, ground and pound, football and it seems every time the owners meet there are more “new” rules that just serve to water down the game and muddy the waters, as many of the calls are subjective. (So far, I don’t see that player injuries have decreased as a result)
    How can a ref know what the intent is behind an “egregious” hit? We want defenses to play tough physical football but at the same time we want everybody to just go through the motions, I’ve always thought that the NFL’s practice of fining players when nothing was called was a blatant money grab and I can see how this new rule could be abused, ejecting players to give an advantage to another team. Then it becomes a character issue with the refs, and fans get upset because of “cheating”. I would love to be a fly on the wall when some of these things are discussed (especially the one on the Raiders move to Las Vegas)

  5. By Don on Mar 28, 2017 | Reply

    I don’t see ejections because of this. Unless it’s just totally outrageous I think most refs would rather let the league review and suspend.

  6. By Big Ken on Mar 29, 2017 | Reply

    Great photo!

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