NFL owners address player conduct with auto-ejection for two personal fouls
March 23, 2016 10:43 AM
John Minchillo/Associated Press
Cincinnati Bengals' Vontaze Burfict, right, runs into Pittsburgh Steelers' Antonio Brown during the teams' NFL wild-card playoff game in January.
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BOCA RATON, Fla. — The National Football League owners today passed a rule that will automatically eject any player who receives two personal fouls in the same game.
The rule, which was partly instigated by what happened in two games between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals last season, will be tried as a one-year experiment.
The list of infractions for a personal foul will include fighting and punching, but also taunting, Steelers president Art Rooney II said.
“It’s something we need to address,” Rooney said at the conclusion of the meeting. “I think we’re still at a point where these types of things are relatively rare. I’m not sure I’d say it’s a widespread problem. But it’s a good rule to have in case you have an incident. We had a couple of them last year.”
Probably the most notorious case was what happened between Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a December game in East Rutherford, N.J. But also driving the new rule were the amount of penalties in two games between the Steelers and Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium last season.
At the center of the controversy was Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who knocked out Steelers receiver Antonio Brown with a vicious hit to the helmet with 22 seconds remaining that led to the winning field goal. Burfict was involved in a number of post-whistle altercations in both games. He has been suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season as a result of his behavior.
“This rule will call attention to all the players about conduct and making sure people are abiding by the way we want the game played,” Rooney said.
The owners also passed a one-year measure that will move the spot of the ball on a touchback on a kickoff from the 20 to 25-yard line. It will be evaluated after one year to see if the rule will be permanent.
“I don’t know that we’re headed in the direction of eliminating the kickoff, but we’re looking at the play and how we can make sure it’s a safe play in the game,” Rooney said.
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