The NFL will consider the possibility of implementing a targeting rule similar to the one currently used in college football when its Competition Committee meets this offseason.
Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, said the league has received positive feedback from college officials and players about the targeting rule. He said it will be part of the Competition Committee's February meeting agenda.
"I think it's something we have to consider," Vincent said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "We think there have been some positives, talking to some of the [college] conferences and the officials there, and also some of the student athletes ... it is a deterrent. It's something that we will consider -- it is on one of our agenda items for the offseason as we speak to the coaches and the Competition Committee."
Vincent was asked about the targeting rule in the wake of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster's one-game suspension for his hit on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Under the college rule, officials could have reviewed Smith-Schuster's hit and eject him if they determined he purposefully targeted Burfict. The same rule, theoretically, also could have been applied to the helmet-to-helmet hit George Iloka made on Antonio Brown during the game, resulting in a $36,464 fine for the Bengals safety.
Vincent stressed that the league wants to be careful when it comes to ejecting players.
"We want the game to be played on the field. We don't want to be in the business of ejecting players," Vincent said. "That's something the coaches are adamant about, general managers and owners about ejecting players during the season -- there's only 17 weeks. The philosophy is if it gets out of their control, we do ask the referees to maintain control of the game. ... But we really emphasize -- let the players play."
Another rule the NFL Competition Committee will look at this offseason involves plays involving two personal fouls called simultaneously on the same player. Smith-Schuster was called for taunting and unnecessary roughness after his hit on Burfict. One of the penalties was declined, per rule. Had both been enforced, it would have resulted in 30 yards instead of 15.
"It's something that [NFL vice president of football operations] Jon [Runyan] has raised to myself, he's actually raised to the appeals officers," Vincent said. "He'll bring that up in February when we begin meeting with our Competition Committee, our coaches subcommittee and our general managers."