The NFL in 2010 hinted that flagrant hits could be cause for suspension for the violators. Though that never happened, it's looking likely a system will be in place in 2011 to make it so.
This is assuming that we'll have games in 2011 - a safe assumption.
Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay and NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Ray Anderson both stressed on a media conference call that they’re recommending that the owners get even tougher with hits on defenseless players.
“In 2011, if there are repeat offenders or flagrant violators, we are going to hold them aggressively accountable, even if it means suspension – some folks believe that suspension is the real messenger in terms of serious enforcement,” Anderson said. “Some of the hits we had this year, particularly if it’s a repeat offender, that person and that club should know that having that person sit out a game — or multiple games in certain circumstances — is very much on the table.”
The fly in the ointment may be getting this past the coaches.
This still has to get approval by the competition committee - which is made up of coaches who may not be so eager to see players suspended, particularly defensive players, who are going to be hit the hardest - no pun intended - by any such rule change.
As we've seen in hockey recently, when push comes to shove, coaches aren't too eager to see players suspended for hits made during the course of a game.