The NFL Competition Committee will likely vote to pass a rule proposed by Roger Goodell, that would eject a player from a game if he draws two fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct.
As coach of a team that dealt with some salty unsportsmanlike behavior last season, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin discussed the benefits of the new rule at the AFC Coaches Breakfast, per Connor Orr of NFL.com.
“The goal is obviously not to eject people from the game, the goal is to change behavior. I assume they quickly will.”
“Just think about our culture and how much it has changed in the last 12 years. I embrace the change, I think if you’re committed to being in this thing for an extended period of time, you better have an attitude that is centered around embracing the change and evolving with football, particularly because it’s evolving and improving for the better.”
In a couple of notable games between the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, unsportsmanlike behavior reared its ugly head. After running back Le’Veon Bell was tackled by Vontaze Burfict in Week 8, the linebacker danced in celebration on the sidelines. The hit was so bad that Bell was lost for the season after sustaining injuries to his MCL and PCL.
Then in the Wild Card playoff game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Burfict displayed another round of unsportsmanlike conduct when he went head to head to tackle wide receiver Antonio Brown who sustained a concussion on the hit (watch here).
As a result, Burfict will serve a three-game suspension at the start of 2016. Already noting a change in behavior, such as Tomlin mentioned above, Burfict commented on a discussion he had with Goodell regarding his suspension.
“His info with me is I have to care about my opponent,” Burfict told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “And I understand where he’s coming from. Because if you care about your opponent, you’ll probably play cleaner.”
While Tomlin is one of the coaches on board with the new rule, some NFL players are speaking out in opposition of the rule.
Rules are rules, and fortunately they’re not created to please everybody. Player safety should continue to be the focus in the league.