SAN FRANCISCO — Call it the “Beckham Rule.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested during his annual Super Bowl news conference on Friday that he was in favor of a policy that would see players automatically ejected from a game if they were called for two personal penalties. The suggestion was in response to a question about a game in which Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman repeatedly confronted one another without either player being ejected.
In a Dec. 20 contest, Beckham launched himself at Norman in the third quarter and made helmet-to-helmet contact, incurring his third personal foul call of the game. Norman had been penalized twice for personal fouls.
“I believe that the league should pursue a policy where if there are two personal fouls in a game, there’s an automatic ejection of the player,” Goodell said. “I believe that’s consistent with what we believe are safety issues, but I also believe it’s consistent with what we believe are standards of sportsmanship that we emphasize. We should take that out of the hands of the officials when it gets to that point. They’ll obviously have to throw the flag, but when they do, we’ll look to see if we can reach an agreement on the conditions of which they’ll be ejected.”
Any rules change would have to be enacted by a three-quarters majority of NFL owners. Goodell said he will bring up the matter with the league’s competition committee. At least one committee member, Giants owner John Mara, said he likes the idea.
“I’d want to think about it a little more, but I am inclined to go in that direction,” Mara said. “I think it would set a clear line and maybe take it out of the officials’ discretion.”
Mara said both Beckham and Norman should have been ejected over their actions.
“I mean, both of them should have been ejected back then, and maybe if we had this rule, it would make it a little more clear,” he said. “I want to discuss it a little bit more at our committee, but I’m inclined to be supportive. And I think the players would be aware of that, that ‘Hey, I’ve got one [personal foul penalty], if I get one more, I’m out of the game. I think there’s a lot of merit to that.”
Asked if Mara felt that officials might be less inclined to call personal fouls, he said, “I think there’s always that risk, but at some point a personal foul becomes so obvious that they don’t have a choice.”