The NFL yesterday warned its teams that it will begin levying "'significant discipline' to anyone engaging in offensive conduct or contact against game officials, responding to a series of incidents that had grown increasingly worrisome to the NFL Referees Association," according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent in the memo wrote, "This is not who we are -- as players, as clubs, as the NFL." NFLRA Exec VP Scott Green in a statement said, "We would expect that any future actions will be met with appropriate and severe punishment." Seifert noted NFL officials have "ejected three players for making contact with them this season" (ESPN.com, 12/11). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Curtis Crabtree notes the "list of incidents that could have led to the league sending the memo are widely varied." The league "apparently is tired of assessing punishment in these matter retroactively and wants to put a stop to [it] altogether by threatening severe punishment." The next time an incident occurs, the league "will be much more heavy-handed" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/12).
SAVAGE FALLOUT CONTINUES: Media continued reacting to the NFL's concussion protocol after Texans QB Tom Savage was allowed to return to Sunday's game, with ESPN's Louis Riddick noting the breakdown "comes down to human error, plain and simple." The process is "supposed to be very defined as far as the number of eyes that are on the field." Riddick: "People should be able to see Tom Savage is on the ground and convulsing to some degree. I'm not a doctor but I can tell you that he doesn't need to go into any tent on the sideline, he needs to go into a locker room." This is "not a protocol problem, and they better find other humans to start making these decisions, because the ones making them now need to be held accountable" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/11). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "That's a failure of football, of science, of the Texans, of the coaches, of anybody who cares about human beings." If fans watching at home can "see something that your neurosurgeon cannot, you have a problem on your hands" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 12/11). ESPN's Adam Schefter said overhauling the protocol would be an "overreaction." Schefter: "The system is in place to do what it's supposed to do. The people on the field have failed to execute it." But ESPN's Ryan Clark said it is "not an overreaction," because if the system is "in place and people are failing to execute it then it needs to be overhauled" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 12/11).
CAN NFL OVERCOME STAR INJURIES? Eagles QB Carson Wentz on Sunday became the latest star player to have his season end due to injury, but FS1's Jason Whitlock said the NFL train is "going to keep rolling" because it "elevates its stars more quickly than any other league." Whitlock: "They don't need anybody. ... That's the NFL's motto. 'We're bigger than any individual stars.'" But Whitlock did note this season "has been a test of that." Whitlock: "It has been tough, and I would say to some degree, it has diminished the season." FS1's Colin Cowherd noted when Cowboys QB Tony Romo was injured before last season, Dak Prescott took over, and "two weeks later, he's a household name." Cowherd: "Literally, in two weeks, Dak Prescott is in for Romo. The NFL has that power." Cowherd: "If you play quarterback, you're a star." Wentz as a rookie last year "was a star by October" ("Speak for Yourself," FS1, 12/11).