NFL considering college-style targeting rule

Dec 4, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) is called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after a hit against Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In light of recent events, NFL executive vice president of football operations and former player Troy Vincent says that the league is considering adopting the college-style targeting rule, which prevents defenseless players from being hit above the shoulders, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.

“I think that’s something we have to consider,” said Vincent.

This is becoming more of a hot topic after a couple of incidents this past week.

First, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski intentionally fell on top of Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White after a play had concluded on Sunday afternoon and drove his elbow into the back of his head.

Gronkowski was not ejected, but he was penalized and later suspended for one game.

On Monday night, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster blindsided Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict with an illegal block, as Smith-Schuster’s helmet connected with Burfict’s face mask. Smith-Schuster then taunted Burfict by walking over him.

Like Gronkowski, the rookie wideout was not ejected, but he was penalized and suspended one contest for his actions.

Later in the game, Bengals safety George Iloka delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Iloka was initially suspended one game, but he got the suspension reduced to a fine.

The NCAA implemented the strict targeting rule heading into the 2013 campaign. The rule stated that any player who went after another defenseless player above the shoulders would be ejected in addition to being hit with a 15-yard penalty.

Also, in college rules, if a player is ejected during the second half of a game, that player will also be forced to sit out the first half of the next contest.

Whether or not the NFL adopts the same exact regulations as the NCAA regarding targeting remains to be seen, but it is clearly an issue with which the league is concerned.

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