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NFL: Abuse of officials will lead to significant discipline

  • By Around The NFL staff
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Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, issued a memo to all 32 NFL teams Monday warning that anyone engaging in "offensive contact or conduct" toward game officials will be subject to "significant discipline."

The memo, which was obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, comes after a few high-profile incidents involving players this season that have resulted in league discipline.

Two weeks ago, a referee was injured during an on-field skirmish involving Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. Both players were suspended one game by the NFL for their actions.

Earlier this season, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch also was suspended one game for making contact with an official.

In addition, the NFL is looking into an incident involving New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton's conduct toward officials at the end of Thursday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Here is Vincent's memo in full:

This is the time of year when emotions run high as the push for the postseason is in full swing. Let us remember to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and sportsmanship, especially when it comes to taking care of one another, respecting the officials, the fans, and our great game.

We want to keep our players on the field. No one wants a penalty or an ejection to determine the outcome of a game. In recent weeks, however, there have been several suspensions and ejections because of contact with, and conduct toward, our game officials.

Examples include players getting in the faces of officials to dispute calls, penalty flags thrown into the crowd, and officials being verbally disparaged as they leave the stadium. One official even sustained a significant injury during a fight between players on the field.

This is not who we are -- as players, as clubs, as the NFL. Going forward, any offensive contact or conduct -- physical or otherwise -- with an official will result in significant discipline.

The NFL's policy prohibiting offenses against officials applies to all game day locations, including the playing field, bench area, tunnels, parking lots, and other stadium passageways. We will continue to emphasize enforcement of unsportsmanlike conduct rules with our officiating crews, and they will be encouraged to disqualify players for any offenses directed at them. Such offenses may also result in fines, and/or suspensions.

Please review this memo with your players and members of your coaching staff prior to your next game.