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The Boston Globe

Sports

Ejections not a priority in NFL

FOXBOROUGH — Nine times last season disqualifications were meted out by NFL officials, but rarer still has been the occasion when referees have given NFL coaches the heave-ho during a game.

Even though many of them have withstood the withering sideline rebukes of NFL coaches irate over a questionable or blown call, NFL officials seem to lag behind their brethren in baseball and the NBA, whose officials are empowered to protect themselves from such abusive behavior by ejecting a coach or manager.

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But that is not the case in the NFL. Barry Anderson, an NFL field judge who is entering his seventh year as a league official, said he didn’t believe it was necessary to give NFL officials that kind of protection against a player or coach’s abusive sideline behavior.

“The emotions are a part of the game,’’ said Anderson, who met with the media Thursday at Gillette Stadium to make a video presentation on the rules changes and points of emphasis for the upcoming 2013 NFL season.

“But I think it boils down to how you conduct yourself out there,’’ Anderson said. “I haven’t had any experiences where I wished we had harsher penalties to eject coaches. It’s not as out-of-line as one may see.

“Every now and again you might have one or two instances a year, but when you’re talking about the number of ballgames [officiated] we don’t get abused by the coaches.’’

Anderson believed the 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, of which there were 42 out of the 3,758 overall penalties called last season, was enough of a deterrent. Offensive holding (767) ranked first among all the infractions, followed by false start (607) and defensive pass interference (276).

“We have the ability to deal with problems on the sidelines and none of the coaches in this game want to deal with a 15-yard penalty,’’ he said. “It’s too significant, so they keep it in bounds for the most part.’’

Asked which group of officials faced the toughest job, Anderson replied, “Oh, it’s baseball. Those umpires have to go nose-to-nose sometimes. If they don’t like it, they give the manager the heave-ho. That’s how they do it.’’

Anderson, who was part of the seven-man officiating crew that worked the Patriots’ preseason game against the Buccaneers Friday night at Gillette Stadium, was on hand for the joint practices between both teams this week.

Among the rule changes the NFL has adopted this season are:

 Restrictions against initiation of contact by a runner or tackler with the crown of the helmet. Infractions would result in a loss of 15 yards, an automatic first down (if the foul was committed by the defense), and a potential player disqualification (if foul was deemed flagrant).

“It’s not reviewable,’’ Anderson said. “It’s going to change some things, hopefully for the good, more so from a safety aspect. People don’t realize that once you dip that head, often times it’s the force of the tackler — or the running back — that snaps his head back, so it’s a concern for [the tackler] as well.

 Prohibition of “peel back’’ blocks below the waist in the tackle box, which carries a 15-yard penalty. They had already been illegal outside the tackle box.

“It’s become an issue,’’ Anderson said. “As far as covering the field, [each of] the seven of us out there has a quadrant [to monitor] regardless of where the ball is and what’s going on. But when you’ve got two teams of two different colors, you’re kind of aware so something like that doesn’t occur.’’

 Elimination of the “Tuck Rule’’ — made famous during the Patriots-Raiders playoff game in 2001 — making it a fumble if a player loses possession during an attempt to bring the ball back to his body.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.
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