NFL officials ejected five players in Week 9 for fighting.
It should have been six. And the one who avoided the ejection ended up suspended.
Ejection after several warnings
It all started in the Bengals-Jaguars game. A.J. Green (pictured with umpire Fred Bryan above) and Jalen Ramsey had been going at it all game. According to a pool report, referee Brad Allen said that he and his crew had warned both players several times to calm down the rough play. But, after the scuffle (video), the officials had no problem ejecting both. While some questioned why Ramsey was ejected, it seems the officials had it with both and banished them from the game.
Three tossed in 49ers-Cardinals melee
After a late hit on 49ers quarterback CJ Beathard, an altercation broke out between several 49ers and Cardinals players. Craig Wrolstand’s crew issued three ejections (video). Officials tossed 49ers running back Carlos Hyde for throwing a punch. For the Cardinals, Frostee Rucker and Hasson Reddick were both ejected for throwing punches. Officials enforced the late hit on Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea as unnecessary roughness.
Both teams wanted to fight and the officials had no choice but to hand out consequences.
One ejection missed in New Orleans
While the Allen and Wrolstad crews did a good job banishing fighters in their games, the Bill Vinovich crew let a player stay in the game after a flagrant act (video).
For some reason, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston thought it would be a good idea to point out Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore by pushing his index finger into the back of Lattimore’s helmet. Lattimore responded with an expected push, but nothing that would constitute roughness. Winston was not in the game at the time.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans swooped in with a flagrantly unnecessary hit to Lattimore, charging into him from behind. This was a clearly ejectable foul, but Evans stayed in the game.
The officials properly flagged Evans, but in my opinion, should have ejected him. The officials also could have flagged Saints coach Sean Payton for unsportsmanlike conduct for coming on the field and gesticulating at the Buccaneers bench. But, I think Vinovich wanted to walk yardage off on the Bucs, thus no foul on Payton.
Does the NFL think Vinovich’s crew should have tossed Evans? Evans was the only player suspended for his Week 9 actions, but Rucker, Reddick, Green and Ramsey are eligible to play this week.
No more bending over backward to keep players in the game
Over the years, the NFL has had an unofficial policy of having officials do all they can to keep players in the game. The mantra was, “Fans don’t pay their way into a game to watch officials kick players out.” Players had to bump an official or square off like pro boxers before the officials gave players the hook.
Now, new(er) rules let officials eject players and coaches for two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Officials no longer bend over backwards to keep a player in the game. If players insist on fighting, officials have no problem ejecting players “by virtue of their actions” (phrase made famous by former referee Ron Winter).
It is time for players to realize that the era of permissiveness is over and officials are no longer afraid to send pugilists to the showers.