What is targeting in football?

If you watch college football today after watching the NFL yesterday, you might hear targeting calls that are unusual in professional football. While some fundamental regulations apply to both college football and the NFL, targeting is a feature that is unique to college football. 2008 saw the implementation of the targeting rule in college football. In response to increasing criticism of football’s propensity to cause concussion-related injuries, particularly to the head and neck region, this was said. When a player “aims at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle, legal block, or playing the ball,” according to the rule, the player is to be penalized for targeting.

The infraction results in a 15-yard penalty and immediate dismissal. One of the few college football rules that result in a direct ejection is this one. The target player was defenseless, and the opponent led to an area above the shoulders with the crown of their helmet, which the referees must take into account. Direct helmet contact with another helmet falls under this category as well.

When implementing this penalty, a few factors are taken into account. It is considered targeting when a player kicks off with an upward or forward thrust, striking the player in the head and neck region. Even though they are not off their feet, they nevertheless suffer the same penalty if they crouch with an upward or forward thrust. Another sign is when a player lowers their head to make forced contact. Any player initiating a head or neck attack with a helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand, or elbow is also in violation.

Why do the NFL’s sanctions for targeting not exist?

Although targeting does occur in the NFL, it does not result in a disqualification that may be applied immediately on the field. The NFL commissioner is responsible for selecting what further action to take in each situation after receiving the matter.

The NFL penalizes helmet-to-helmet contact and defends helpless players under unnecessary roughness penalties, despite the absence of specific regulations like targeting. Contrary to college football, a 15-yard penalty is always assessed, whereas disqualification is at the referees’ discretion. Additionally, not every headshot is sanctioned by the NFL. Instead, it exclusively penalizes helmet-to-helmet contact and permits other head or facemask strikes, especially accidental ones.

What is the college football targeting policy?

The NCAA rule book defines targeting more broadly than the NFL, which modeled its targeting regulations after a college football targeting call. According to the NCAA, targeting happens when a player makes forced contact with their opponent. According to this regulation, participants in college football are not permitted to make forceful contact with the helmet’s brim or the head or neck area of an unarmed opponent. If a player strikes another player in the neck region with their shoulder, hands, forearms, fist, or elbow, it is also considered targeting. In the opening week of the 2021 season, Ole Miss had four players charged and ejected for targeting fouls of varied severity.

What are the NFL Penalties for Targeting?

The team that engages in targeting is assessed a 15-yard penalty. Additionally, if the referee found the contact to be egregious and excessive, the player who engaged in the targeting might be removed from the contest.

What is the College Football Penalty for Targeting?

Regarding the results, targeting college football is a little different. A player who is penalized for targeting receives a 15-yard penalty for their side, and if the offense occurred in the first half of the game, they are also removed from the game for the remainder of it. If the foul happened in the second half, they will be suspended for the first half of the following game in addition to being removed for the remainder of that half.

Before the 2022 season, if a player committed a targeting foul in the second half, they were suspended for the first half of the following game. The players would still be ejected if the foul occurred in the second half of the game, but replay officials would review the call afterward, and if they decided the referees had made a mistake, the player might be permitted to participate in the subsequent game. A player will receive a complete one-game suspension and be expelled from the current game if they commit three targeting fouls in a season.

Is there debate surrounding the Targeting Rule?

Some disagree with the ruling that distinguishes between players who actively lean in to make contact while wearing their helmets and players who make contact as a result of the intense nature of the game. One of Clemson’s finest defensive players received a targeting call that was open to interpretation in one of their college football playoff games versus Ohio State. This call resulted in that player’s ejection, which significantly shifted the momentum in Clemson’s favor.

Can a player challenge Targeting? 

A college football player will be dismissed from the game if they commit a targeting foul in the second half. If a team believes the call was erroneous, they may challenge it to avoid the first-half ban.

 In both the NFL and collegiate football, a targeting infraction committed during the game is automatically subject to review. In NCAA football, referees cannot say the call on the field “stands” during a targeting review; they must either confirm the decision or reverse it. In the NFL, a review is in place to decide if a player will be ejected based on the seriousness and intentionality of the offense.

In conclusion, what does football targeting entail?

In conclusion, a targeting penalty is a technique to sanction dangerous player contact that may cause injury. It carries a fifteen-yard penalty in the NFL and expulsion is a possibility if it is committed. In college football, the offending player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the team is assessed a fifteen-yard penalty. A player may also be suspended for the remainder of that game and the first half of the following one if the foul occurs in the second half. But first-half suspensions are now subject to revision because of a recent rule change. Since the beginning of the practice, targeting calls have generated a lot of debate. Many football players would practice leading with helmets before the rule.

However, players must adjust to these new regulations. However, the argument also arises when a modest head-forward movement might represent a targeting signal.

 Data from SI and other sources, however, indicate that the number of helmet-to-helmet hits in the game is declining. According to studies, the punishment for these kinds of collisions discourages players from aiming at other players. The game is safer for everyone when penalties are used to lower helmet-to-helmet impacts.

Targeting in Football FAQs

1) What does football targeting mean?

According to McDaid, targeting is now defined as violent contact that is not part of a lawful tackle or legal block but instead involves aiming at an opponent to attack. Fans often misunderstand this, according to McDaid, since they believe it covers all helmet-to-helmet and shoulder-to-shoulder contact.

2) What is an instance of football targeting?

If a player attacks while lowering their head and making forcible contact with the crown of their helmet. If a player initiates an attack using their forearm, shoulder, fist, elbow, hand, or helmet to use forcible contact with the opponent’s neck or head area.

3) What makes targeting a football rule?

The NCAA introduced the targeting penalty during the 2008 campaign. Terry McAulay, a former NFL official and coordinator of Big East football officials, asserted that Congress pressure led to the introduction of the rule to lessen head trauma and concussions, among other football-specific injuries.

4) What makes targeting punishable?

According to the regulation, the targeting rule for the NCAA forbids players from initiating forced contact against an opponent that “goes beyond making a legal tackle, a legal block, or playing the ball.” That can entail forcing contact while leading with the helmet’s crown.

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