NFL reminds teams no 'foreign objects' allowed on field

ByKevin Seifert ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The NFL reminded its teams in a memo Tuesday that no "foreign objects" are allowed on the field or sideline during game day, a response to the practice of the Carolina Panthers and other teams of carrying baseball bats during pregame for motivational purposes.

A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Beckham felt threatened when Panthers practice squad player Marcus Ball carried a baseball bat onto the field in pregame warm-ups Sunday and motioned with it toward New York Giants wide receiverOdell Beckham Jr.while makingcomments. According to the source, it made Beckham feel threatened and helped put him in a certain state of mind for a game in which he was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness.

The NFL suspended Beckham one game for his multiple outbursts during the game, most notably spearing the side of Panthers cornerback Josh Norman's helmet. An appeal is scheduled for Wednesday.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that the bat's purpose has been misunderstood publicly but added that he would end the practice "because I'm going to hear it if I don't."

The memo, written by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, made clear that allowing it to continue would violate NFL rules and make the team subject to league discipline.

Vincent acknowledged that "teams and individual players may have items they use for motivation or to symbolize a theme that the team has used this season," but asked that they be left in the locker room when pregame warm-ups begin.

The memo continued: "For the purposes of this policy, 'foreign objects' broadly encompasses any item that is neither intrinsic to the game nor necessary to conduct pregame drills and treat and prepare players for the game. To be clear, items such as massage rollers, agility ladders, medicine balls, and any equipment to assist the medical and athletic training staffs in treating players are permitted."

Panthers cornerback Bene' Benwikere used the bat as a prop during pregame introductions before a game against Atlanta two weeks ago to symbolize the Panthers' intention to "keep bringing the wood.''

Benwikere suffered a season-ending broken leg in that game, so players took the bat with them to the New York game.

On Monday, a day before Rivera's announcement and Vincent's memo, Benwikere tweeted in defense of the practice.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen and David Newton contributed to this report.

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