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2017 rule changes

Coaches now can be ejected for 2 unsportsmanlike fouls

In the recently released NFL rulebook, a note has quietly been added to Rule 12-4-1 regarding the disqualification provision

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Not only was the automatic disqualification rule from last season’s rules changes made permanent, but now, players will not be the only ones subject to ejection following two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls of a specific type in the same game. In the recently released 2017 edition of the NFL rulebook, updated with the new rule changes for the upcoming season, a note has quietly been added to Rule 12-4-1 regarding the disqualification provision:

Note: This rule also applies to non-player personnel (e.g., management personnel, coaches, trainers, equipment personnel).

The automatic disqualification rule, instituted in 2016 as a one-year trial, was made permanent at the Owners’ Meeting last May. This addition regarding the change to include bench personnel was not written in the official proposal, so it is unclear as to whether or not this additional language was considered in the owners’ vote.

The NCAA implemented a similar rule regarding coaches last year.

No coach has ever been ejected from an NFL game in the league’s 97 seasons. Three players were ejected last year in the automatic disqualification’s debut season: Giants center Weston Richburg, Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson, and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Not all unsportsmanlike conduct fouls are part of the two-step disqualification. The illustration below details the enforcement of the rule.

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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