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Why it makes sense that the NFL will make all ejections reviewable in 2018

The league gets a step closer to adopting the NCAA’s “targeting” rule with the change.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A new rule from the NFL’s spring meeting will make all ejections reviewable in 2018. The league also clarified its ejection standards for the new helmet rule it passed in March.

It’s no surprise this proposal was passed. In March, the league approved a new rule that will make helmet-to-helmet hits a 15-yard penalty or, if deemed severe enough, an ejection. This was the latest move in the NFL’s push to prioritize safety on the field. The updated language was agreed on at the May meeting:

However, one of the big concerns after the rule passed was how officials would enforce it — particularly if it led to a significant increase in ejections.

This new clarification will allow officials at the league office in New York to review a disqualification and potentially undo it, but only if “there is clear and obvious visual evidence” that would cause them to reverse their decision.

This applies to all ejections, not just for players who violate the new helmet rule. Each review is only allowed to be one minute long, at most.

The new rule borrows from the NCAA. College football’s targeting rule includes an automatic ejection for the offending player, but also features a mandatory replay review of the hit. That review gives on-field officials the opportunity to determine whether or not the tackle meets league standards for a major penalty.

The NFL’s rule takes that and flips it, not making ejection compulsory when the flag is thrown but instead giving officials the chance to double back and and review the play before making a potentially game-changing decision.

What other plays are already reviewable? Now, the NFL’s list of plays subject to review are:
(a) a score for either team;
(b) an interception;
(c) a fumble or backward pass that is recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone;
(d) a muffed scrimmage kick recovered by the kicking team;
(e) after the two-minute warning of each half;
(f) throughout any overtime period; and
(g) any disqualification of a player

It’s just one of the new reforms introduced at this year’s spring meeting. The owners also passed new kickoff rules for 2018.