NFL: Player Suspensions Loom for "Flagrant" or Illegal Hits

Deborah HortonContributor IMarch 16, 2011

James Harrison
James HarrisonRick Stewart/Getty Images

The NFL made a point last year to ensure that "flagrant" hits were called out and fines handed down. In the next season, hopefully this fall, the NFL will most likely begin adding more suspensions to go along with the fines.

Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said on Wednesday, "Frankly, now that the notice has been given, players and coaches and clubs are very aware of what the emphasis is and we won't have that hesitation."  

The NFL plans to start hitting players and teams with suspensions for what is deemed to be "flagrant" or illegal hits.  He continued on to say, "Everyone will be very clearly on notice now that a suspension is very viable for us and we will exercise it...when it comes to illegal hits to the head and neck area and to defenseless players."  

The NFL apparently intends to make players and teams take notice with these statements.

Defenseless players will now be classified as:

  • A quarterback in the act of throwing
  • A receiver trying to catch a pass
  • A runner already in the grasp of tacklers and having his forward progress stopped
  • A player fielding a punt or a kickoff
  • A kicker or punter during the kick
  • A quarterback at any time after change of possession
  • A receiver who receives a blind-side block
  • A player already on the ground.

The league plans to make it absolutely clear what a "flagrant" or illegal hit is.  The league also wants to make it plain what they will consider to be repeat offenders.  The league will be emphasizing hits in the head and neck area and exactly what a defenseless player is.

There has been much discussion on how the fines and calls have been assessed in the past season. There are some who think that the NFL is targeting only certain players for the calls.  

There are others who think the NFL is not concerned with ALL the players on the field such as a DB who is waiting to make a play and gets plowed over by an offensive player, so no call without the ball.  

There are still others who think that the NFL should be trying to make helmet improvements and other things to prevent concussions of players.  And then, there are those who think the description has been too arbitrary to determine what a "flagrant foul" really is.

The new guidelines seem to flesh out what a "flagrant foul" is but we will have to wait and see how it is implemented and applied.  One thing is certain, the NFL seems dedicated to moving forward on this issue.  

Teams and players, consider yourselves warned.