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NFL considering adopting college football’s targeting rule after Gronkowski hit

Rob Gronkowski might night be changing the league.

There has been a lot of chatter this week about vicious hits being delivered by players in the National Football League following three big, somewhat controversial hits in Week 13, including a blindside hit from Rob Gronkowski on defenseless Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White that happened long after the play was over.

It seems, following backlash against the star tight end for his dirty hit on White late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-3 win by the New England Patriots, that the NFL is willing to consider making changes to its rules regarding targeting and non-football acts, which would describe the late hit by Gronkowski on White. White suffered a concussion following Gronk’s needless cheap shot, but has since been cleared from the league’s concussion protocol.

According to Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, the league is considering implementing a targeting rule, similar to the rule used by college football.

The targeting rule, which went into effect for the 2013 college football season, requires that players who target and contact defenseless opponents above the shoulders be automatically ejected from the game on top of the 15-yard penalty imposed on violators.

College football implemented its targeting rule to address player safety by taking action to remove targeting, or players launching themselves towards an opposing player, out of the game.

If the foul occurs in the first half of a game, the player is tossed for the remainder of that game. If the targeting violation occurs in the second half or overtime of a game, the player is ejected for the remainder of that game, plus the first half of the next game.

College football utilizes replay to decide whether a targeting violation was rightfully called, or if the official made an initial error in his ruling.

After the NFL handed out zero ejections during the 2016 season for such targeting hits, there have been 10 ejections through Week 13 of the 2017 season, with Gronkowski’s blindside hit earning him a one-game suspension.

White and Gronkowski had been battling all game long before White came away with an interception of a Tom Brady pass intended for Gronkowski with 4:50 remaining in the fourth. New England led 23-3 at the time.

As White was lying face-down on the turf at New Era Field, Gronkowski shuffled his feet several times as he moved towards White. He left his feet and delivered a late hit with his shoulder on White, driving his arm into the back of White’s helmet.

Gronk’s appeal of the suspension was rightfully denied, meaning the tight end must miss the Patriots’ Monday Night Football clash with the Miami Dolphins this week.