Word came down this morning that the NFL has decided to enact two more rule changes in addition to the seven changes that were made official yesterday. I dare say these could make far more of an impact.
NFL approves touchback on kickoffs to the 25 and automatic ejection for players called for 2 unsportsmanlike penalties. Both on 1-yr trial.— Joe Person (@josephperson) March 23, 2016
Talk about incentivizing a player to take a knee in the end zone. That's a free extra five yards. My initial thought was to wonder how much of that new rule was influenced by the NFL's desire to limit the number of collisions on kickoffs in the name of protecting players (and reducing the NFL's exposure to legal action in the future). Giving teams an additional five yards on touchbacks isn't as extreme as eliminating kickoffs altogether, but it certainly represents another sizable shift in special teams play and perhaps the overall importance of some parts of that unit in relation to the rest of the roster.
With regard to the idea of ejecting a player after he gets called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, I can get on board with it. In theory, it seems sound, though it warrants watching to see whether it does more harm than good, given the potentially extreme deviation of what constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct.
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