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NFL now can eject players from off-site for ‘flagrant’ actions

New rule allows a league representative to notify game officials that a player needs to be ejected.
Bucs and Saints players separate after a scuffle on the sidelines after Tampa Bay's Mike Evans blindsided New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore last season. (Times file, 2017)
Bucs and Saints players separate after a scuffle on the sidelines after Tampa Bay's Mike Evans blindsided New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore last season. (Times file, 2017)
Published Mar. 27, 2018|Updated Mar. 27, 2018

Plays like Bucs receiver Mike Evans' blindsiding of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore last year — where Evans wasn't ejected but ended up facing a one-game suspension — could result in more immediate punishment under a new NFL rule change.

Under a change approved by the NFL's competition committee on Tuesday, a designated member of the league's officiating department is now authorized "to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field."

Evans hit Lattimore from behind after he saw Lattimore shove quarterback Jameis Winston, who had poked him in the back of the helmet after motioning him to go back to his sideline at the end of a possession. Evans was penalized 15 yards but not ejected, because game officials didn't see everything in real time.

Moving forward, if a similar incident took place, the league can identify behavior worthy of ejection and notify game officials. Evans apologized for his actions after the fact and served his one-game suspension.