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Saturday's series of brawls between the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans probably provided fans an added level of entertainment during the dog days of training camp. However, the participants would be advised to get it out of their systems now.
One of the NFL's top officiating points of emphasis in 2015 is to eliminate fighting during games. The league's annual rule-change video, shown during camp to every player and released Friday to the media, suggests it will use more frequent ejections and liberal fines as deterrents.
Here's part of what the narrator of the video tells players:
"One area of major concern is the fact that 2014 was marred with fights that ranged from skirmishes to all-out brawls. Sadly, the second-to-last play of the Super Bowl ended with a melee between players on the field and some who ran in from the sidelines. The increase in fighting is unacceptable and casts a negative light on the game and everyone associated with the NFL.
"The league policy on fighting is clear and states the following: 'Don't fight, and if a fight breaks out involving other players, stay away.' Any active participant in a fight will be penalized. Flagrant conduct will result in ejection and any player that does not immediately leave the fight area will be subject to a fine."
The initial penalty for fighting is 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. The minimum fine is $28,940 for a first fighting offense and $57,881 for a second. If this initiative follows previous points of emphasis, it's likely that officials will be more likely to find "flagrant" actions during fights. The NFL rule book defines "flagrant" as "extremely objectionable, conspicuous, unnecessary, avoidable or gratuitous."
Finally, players who enter the fight area will also be subject to penalties and fines up to $11,576, based on whether they participated in the fight once arriving.
"Peacemaking won't be accepted as an excuse for entering the area," the narrator says in the video. "The best thing to do is to get yourself and your teammates out of the fight area."
Training camp is practice time for everyone. Once the games begin, brawls like those we saw Saturday seem likely to be punished as never before.