By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If an NFL player makes an “egregious” hit to an opponent next year, he’s going to be sent to the showers early.
That’s the new law of the land in the NFL, as the owners voted on Tuesday to approve a rule change which results in automatic ejections for “egregious” hits to the head.
The rule is sure to cause controversy whenever it comes in to play, as certain hits to the head tend to get officiated differently than others. Like, for example, numerous hits to the head of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Certainly, NFL referees and officials have not shown a mastery when it comes to enforcing the current rules in place regarding hits to the head. So the added stakes of an automatic ejection should not be considered something that will necessarily go smoothly during the regular season.
This rule, combined with the centralization of replay review, signals a significant change in the enforcement of rules in the NFL.
The owners also voted to ban the leap over the line on field goal block attempts. Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin executed this move to perfection in a game this season against the Ravens. He did it again in the Super Bowl, though he was called for a penalty — even though he did not commit an actual infraction.
And in news that will disappoint some fans, the proposal to make a kickoff through the uprights result in the ball being placed at the 20-yard line instead of the 25-yard line did not pas.
The rules were proposed by the competition committee — which is headed by Falcons president Rich McKay and includes John Mara, Stephen Jones, John Elway, Bruce Arians and Mike Tomlin, among others — and voted upon by owners.