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NFL Rule Change Punishes Teams For Flagrant Hits By Players

Next season, whenever that may be, the NFL will start fining teams for repeated flagrant hits resulting in fines by their players. The NFL instituted a stricter policy on the punishment of dirty hits last season, fining a number of players for hits on defenseless players and helmet to helmet hits, and this rule goes another step further in trying to change the culture surrounding illegal hits in the NFL. As it stands, punishment will be financial, but when asked about the possibility of teams being fined draft picks, league vice president Adolpho Birch said commissioner Roger Goodell had not ruled it out.

Regarding how punishment would be assessed, Birch had this to say:

"As a club's total increases to a certain threshold, we will enforce some ... payback to encourage clubs to stay below that threshold. We're looking at a system similar to one we instituted a couple years ago with off-field conduct."

This is a fairly significant development, provided that football is played in the near future, and it should significantly change the attitudes of players and coaches regarding questionable hits.