December 23, 2022 12:00pm

The NFL and Ejections

We Asked Power Poll NFL.

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent says the league will study penalties for roughing-the-passer and hitting defenseless receivers this offseason. The league might consider adding another layer of punishment in addition to the yardage assessment – ejecting the defensive player who commits the foul.

That would be a bad idea, according to this week’s NFL Power Poll. We posed a two-pronged question to our panel of NFL experts -- former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters: 1) should defensive players be subject to ejection for those fouls? And 2) if you’re going to start ejecting defensive players, would you consider ejecting offensive players, specifically for career-threatening chop-block penalties?

We received 214 votes and 167 of them said ejection should not be considered in Question 1. Forty-seven said yes.

Specific to roughing the passer, Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune said: “Instead of making roughing-the-passer even more punitive with an ejection, the NFL should go in the opposite direction. The `strike zone’ which a defensive player can legally contact a quarterback is already ridiculously small and difficult to adhere to – and that’s before having to make sure he doesn’t put any of his body weight on the QB!”

Fred Gaudelli, the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, says the standard should be elevated for any such ejection.

“I think there would have to be an egregious act – intentionally trying to injure another player to warrant ejection in either case,” Gaudelli said.

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette proposes another step before ejection. As Warner Wolf would say, “Let’s go to the videotape.”

“I have no problem going the extra mile to protect quarterbacks,” he said. “They are the game. But roughing-the-passer calls should be subject to review to eliminate the cheap penalties.”

Giving the game officials power to eject a player is just a bad idea, says Tony Grossi of

“In this era of legalized gambling, giving officials more latitude to eject players opens a Pandora’s Box that could lead to scandal,” he said.

The panel was also against ejection for the chop-block offenders in Question 2, but not by as wide a margin – 95 in favor of ejection, 119 against.

“Roughing has a good deal of officiating interpretation involved in it,” said Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers. “The blocking infraction is more cut and dried and even more dangerous. So review the roughing (calls) and eject on the blatant low-block infractions.”

Gerry Sandusky of WBAL Radio/TV in Baltimore said ejection for both offenses would be bad for the game.

“Many roughing-the-passer penalties and chop blocks are the results of mistakes or mistiming,” he said. “Putting either of those in the ejection category would be a mistake and would hurt the game by making more players hesitant.”

Les East of says the NFL should be more open-minded when it comes to the assessment of penalties.

“Instead of zeroing in on specific positions and plays it would seem more useful to establish a greater threshold for what warrants an ejection,” he said. “Then apply it fairly to all players and plays.”

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

More on This Poll

More Polls

More on This Poll