Steelers notebook: Changes passed at owners meetings please Art Rooney II
March 24, 2016 12:00 AM
Steelers president Art Rooney II
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BOCA RATON, Fla. — It was a good four days at the NFL owners meetings for the Steelers. They saw the chop block totally eliminated from the game, instant replay was not expanded (at least for now) and players who receive two personal fouls in the same game will be automatically ejected.
Those were the objectives of Steelers president Art Rooney II.
“We’re happy with the way things turned out,” Rooney said.
The ejection rule, which was passed Wednesday by the owners as a one-year experiment, was prompted in part by what happened in two games between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals last season. The list of infractions that could result in ejection include fighting, punching and taunting.
“It’s something we need to address,” Rooney said at the conclusion of the meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “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.”
The most notorious case likely 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 number 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 in the wild-card playoff game. Penalties resulting from that play led to the Steelers’ winning field goal.
“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.
"This was a rule that brought teeth to that. It brought an opportunity for the rules to reflect the emphasis that I think everybody in the membership feels, and particularly the competition committee — sportsmanship is important to us," said commissioner Roger Goodell. "It’s important to our players, it’s important to our teams, and it’s important to our fans."
Touchback rule changed
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.
There were three different proposals to expand instant replay, all of which were tabled until the May league meeting. “I still think it’s unlikely it will be expanded this year,” said Rooney, who is opposed to any expansion.
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter@gerrydulac.
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