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Goodell will ask for tougher ejection standards

SAN FRANCISCO – Roger Goodell has a rules proposal that, had it been in place during the 2015 season, would have significantly impacted the Buffalo Bills.

Two personal fouls and you’re gone!

That’s what the NFL commissioner wants the league’s competition committee to consider incorporating into the rules, he said during his Super Bowl 50 news conference Friday.

Had that been the case in 2015, the Bills would have had three players ejected for getting two personal-foul penalties in games: safety Aaron Williams, defensive end Jerry Hughes and linebacker Preston Brown. Hughes and Brown would, in fact, have both been thrown out of the Oct. 4 loss against the New York Giants for each drawing a pair of personal fouls on a day when the Bills were penalized 17 times.

Goodell said the enhanced punishment was “consistent with what we believe are the safety issues, but I also believe it’s consistent with what we believe are the standards of sportsmanship that we’ve emphasized.”

“We should take that out of the hands of the officials when it gets to that point,” the commissioner said. “They obviously will have to throw the flag, but when they do, we will look to see if we can reach an agreement on the conditions in which they would be ejected. But that’s a competition committee matter.”

Goodell said the matter will be discussed further with the NFL Players Association at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, as well as with the membership at the league meeting in March.

Under Goodell’s proposal, ejections throughout the NFL in the ’15 season would have gone from four to 46, according to ESPN Stats & Information’s penalty database.

Among the other topics Goodell addressed were:

• The Pro Bowl. “I was disappointed in what I saw on Sunday,” he said of the league’s annual all-star game in Hawaii. About three years ago, Goodell had threatened to discontinue the Pro Bowl because with so many top players selected opting not to participate and, with the steady erosion of the quality of play, the game had turned into a joke. Changes were made that seemed to have a “positive impact,” but all of that disappeared last Sunday and the commissioner believes additional modifications are necessary. “I think it’s very important to have a stage on which you celebrate our great players, what they can do on and off the field,” Goodell said. “We may have to think about that differently than we have in the past. … (The Pro Bowl’s) not the kind of game we want to have in its current format, based on what we saw last week.”

• Marijuana. Despite marijuana and medical marijuana being legalized in multiple states, Goodell said he didn’t foresee any change in the “short term” to the NFL’s policy banning marijuana use. He said the league did not differentiate between marijuana and medical marijuana.

• Dangers of football for children. Goodell cited a 78-percent reduction in injuries resulting from the NFL’s heads-up football initiative designed to teach youngsters not to lead with their helmets in tackling. He said he “wouldn’t give up a single day” of the nine years of football he played from youth level through high school. “If I had a son, I’d love to have him play the game of football because of the values you get,” the commissioner said. “There’s risk in life. There’s risk to sitting on the couch. What we want to do is get people active. We want them to experience the game of football because the game of football will teach you … the discipline, the teamwork, the perseverance.”

• Impact of the fewer practices and less contact work, as called for under the terms of the league’s collective-bargaining agreement with its players, on the quality of play. “I believe that the quality of play has never been better in the NFL,” Goodell said. “I think you see it in the quality of competition. We’ve never had closer games than we’ve had in our history. I think there were extraordinary individual performance and team performances. The comebacks were off the charts with excitement this year. So I believe our league is incredibly competitive, but it is also something we watch, we follow. Our competition committee will look at that.”

• The potential relocations of the Chargers from San Diego (they have an agreement in principle to move to Los Angeles) and the Raiders from Oakland. “We very much want to keep our teams where they are,” Goodell said. “As I have said before, relocation is a very difficult process as we saw with Los Angeles, but sometimes in a business sense, it is a reality.”

• More NFL games and a potential franchise in London. “We are considering playing more games in the UK,” Goodell said. “It’s a balancing act with our schedule. … But I believe the future will see more games in the UK. As far as a franchise, let’s continue to grow, let’s continue to see that excitement and enthusiasm and support continue to develop because I think that’s a realistic possibility.”

• NFL playing in Mexico. Goodell announced that the Raiders and Houston Texans would play on Monday night, Nov. 21, in Mexico City. It marks only the NFL’s second regular-season game to be played in Mexico. The first was in 2005, when the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-14, before a crowd of 103,467 in Azteca Stadium.


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