NFL will consider college-style targeting rule for illegal hits next season

Washington Post

The NFL will give consideration this offseason to enacting a college-style targeting rule by which a player could be ejected from a game for an illegal hit, subject to confirmation by an instant-replay review.

Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday that the league's rule-making competition committee will take up the issue after the season.

"I think it's something that we have to consider," Vincent said. "We've seen it work. It's clean. . . . It is a deterrent."

Vincent's comments came during a week in which the NFL issued three suspensions, one of which was overturned on appeal, for on-field behavior by players during games. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster were suspended for one game apiece. Cincinnati Bengals safety George Iloka's one-game suspension was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Before this season, the competition committee issued a directive that a player should be ejected from a game by officials or suspended by the league for the most egregious and flagrant illegal hits, even for a first offense by that player. Officials have remained reluctant to eject players. But there have been nine suspensions handed out by the league, according to Vincent.

"I think it's working. . . . [For] things that shouldn't be part of our game, players are being removed," Vincent said Wednesday.

Competition committee members have said in the past that they were hesitant to move to a college-like targeting rule because they have been reluctant to subject judgment calls by the game officials to replay review. That will be debated again during the upcoming offseason.

"It's something that we will consider. . . . It is on our agenda to be discussed beginning in February," Vincent said.

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