NEW YORK -- The NFL has told its officiating crews to start ejecting players for flagrant helmet-to-helmet hits.
The new policy was outlined Saturday in a memo from supervisor of officials Mike Pereira, which was obtained by The Associated Press. It followed two fines last weekend for what the officiating department had determined were hits against players in defenseless positions.
One fine was against Washington Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who will forfeit a game check of $16,764 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New York Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens. The other was against Philadelphia defensive tackle LeJuan Ramsey, who was fined his game check of $21,176 for spearing Dallas' Julius Jones.
"Officials will be reminded this week to pay strict attention to these rules and disqualify the fouling player if the action is judged to be flagrant," Pereira wrote in the memo sent to the 32 NFL teams. "Actions that involve flagrant helmet to helmet contact are the likely acts that will include disqualification. Our commissioner and this office remain very focused on the safety of our players."
In the memo fining Landry and Ramsey, NFL director of football operations Gene Washington said emphasis would be on hits against players in defenseless positions.
"We are disappointed in the sense that we have lost our starting quarterback for at least one game after the player took the crown of his helmet and delivered an illegal blow to Matt's jaw and the fine levied is only a small fraction of the player's weekly pay," general manager Rick Smith said.
"Is that equitable? The punishment doesn't appear to fit the crime when all factors are considered."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved