Repeat hit offenders put on notice with second league memo

WASHINGTON -- The NFL sent head coaches memos before this week's games listing their players who have been called for two or more unnecessary-roughness penalties since 2008 -- yet another step in the league's effort to cut down on illegal hits.

Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, sent each coach the names only of his own players who have multiple infractions, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Sunday.

Anderson is a member of the league's competition committee and one of its loudest voices calling for improving player safety.

The lists were sent Friday.

"The purpose was to provide an opportunity for the coach to give extra caution to those players to abide by the safety rules," Aiello wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It was part of our effort to give fair notice to help players stay within the rules."

Aiello wouldn't reveal the total number of players identified in the memos.

After a series of illegal hits last weekend, the NFL imposed larger-than-usual fines on three players: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was docked $75,000, and New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson lost $50,000 each.

In the past, players were either fined or ejected for illegal hits. But the NFL is ramping up the punishment, saying it will make sure there is stricter enforcement of rules that have been in place. The league also warned that, starting with this Sunday's games, violent conduct will be cause for suspension.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent teams a memo Wednesday "to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques" related to "contact to the head and neck." A video was sent to the 32 teams explaining what hits are considered legal and illegal.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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