The NFL is bringing one of college football’s most controversial penalties — targeting — to the professional ranks.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports the league approved a rule Tuesday that would make “egregious hits to the head” an automatic ejection. College football also has automatic ejections after targeting calls.
The NFL rule on automatic ejections for egregious hits to the head was approved. Sounds like the competition committee expected this
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 28, 2017
Previously, such hits to the head in the NFL meant a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Now, in addition to that yardage, players will be removed from the game unless the call is changed by review.
College football’s targeting rule has been in place since the 2013 season. The rule includes forcible contact “to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent … with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder.”
It is not clear if the wording of the NFL rule will be the same.
The college football rule led to a few controversies because of inconsistencies in its application. The NCAA considered changing the rule for this season, but elected to leave it the same.
Here is the what the NCAA rulebook says about targeting:
Note 1: “Targeting” means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:
- Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area
- A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground
- Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area
- Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet