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NFL expands defenseless player rule to crackback blocks

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There will be an expansion of the league rule prohibiting hits to the head and neck of defenseless players next season after teams approved a new rule making such hits illegal when they come as part of crackback blocks.

Seeing as how players are already barred from going low on these blocks, it makes a good deal of sense to also stop them from going high when they are coming from the blind side of defensive players. While it will be interesting to see just how this rule is enforced, the rule change is definitely in line with other moves the league has made in recent years to increase player safety.

If the rule is enforced closely, teams are going to have to adjust how they set up blocking on plays where receivers block down after the snap. With limitations on what they can do going high and low, there’s not much space for them to hit without risking a flag.

If it is enforced haphazardly, it will likely become just as big a talking point among fans and players as the other rules outlining illegal hits have become in recent years.

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40 Responses to “NFL expands defenseless player rule to crackback blocks”
  1. dannersthemanners says: Mar 28, 2012 12:13 PM

    I live in a world that I truly do not understand.

  2. cmich2006 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:17 PM

    and yet you can still go high/low on someone and blow out their knees

  3. blacknyellablacknyella says: Mar 28, 2012 12:18 PM

    Can’t hit ‘em high, can’t him ‘em low, can’t “launch” yourself in an effort to hit a receiver who has “launched” himself, can’t drag ‘em down from behind using their shoulder pads, can’t tackle a quarterback’s feet, can’t hit their helmet with your helmet (huge fines and now multi-game suspension) . . . sigh. And all rules created under Das Ginger Furher.

  4. leksington says: Mar 28, 2012 12:19 PM

    You have to admit, the legacy of Hines Ward’s dirty play is impressive.

  5. scerpico22 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:19 PM

    Memo to all NFL teams:

    Have all rostered players turn in their team uniform pants in exchange for skirts as they will be required to wear effective with the 2012-2013 season.

    Regards,
    Rog

  6. indywilson40 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:20 PM

    Guess we now know why Hines Ward retired.

  7. RavenzGunnerz says: Mar 28, 2012 12:20 PM

    Hehe, the NFL asked EA sports to remove the late hits in the NFL Blitz.

    NFL Blitz man, it’s just a video game.

  8. m3phitic says: Mar 28, 2012 12:23 PM

    Pretty funny they waited for Hines Ward to retire before they made a rule that will be known as the Hines Ward rule. Nice legacy for that smiling db.

  9. bucingnasty says: Mar 28, 2012 12:24 PM

    Can’t wait to see what Nike does with the new flag belts

  10. alewatcher says: Mar 28, 2012 12:26 PM

    They’ll have to put a dot on the players uniform to indicate the proper place to make contact. Or maybe a pair of lines to mark the legal hit zone.

  11. dannersthemanners says: Mar 28, 2012 12:26 PM

    At least this rule favors the defense.

  12. pftwstbshmc says: Mar 28, 2012 12:30 PM

    Far too vague…. It will be a “matter of opinion” versus “matter of fact” when the penality is called.

    Opens up too many cans of worms.

    Like the intent, not the execution.

  13. Steeley McBeam says: Mar 28, 2012 12:31 PM

    Slowly but surely, Roger Goddel is getting his flag football league off the ground.

  14. the3taveren says: Mar 28, 2012 12:35 PM

    Not a Steelers fan – Hine Ward’s play was exactly what you would dream of if you were an NFL coach! Not dirty, until they made it illegal.

    As far as the new rule, why don’t we just cut to the chase on this, make one rule.

    NO (intentional or reckless) BLOWS TO THE HEAD! By any player at any possition.

    I would define intentional or reckless any contact made with the crown of the helmet by any player acting as an agrressor (i.e. lead blocker, pass rusher, blocking WR, and so on).

    Incidental contact made with the side of the helmet in any situation or with the crown of the helmet that was made because the “defensless” player dropped his head, would not be a fowl.

  15. eyeh8goodell says: Mar 28, 2012 12:39 PM

    LOL, like it’s Hines Ward’s fault a defender doesn’t have his head on a swivel. What was he supposed to do….stop and wait for a defender to finally gain a little situational awareness on the field and realize where the blockers were coming from before throwing a block? Another piece of pro football dies today. You’ll notice high schools and the NCAA aren’t adopting these ridiculous rule changes over the last 12 years or so, which is why I choose to watch a more pure form of the sport at those levels. At least they’re keeping it real and not trying to turn the game into a Walt Disney family affair. And the great hypocrisy is that the more the NFL tries to tame the game, it stands idle in policing the drunken vulgarity that permeates every single NFL game. Attending an NFL game is no different than watching it at the local dive bar with a 100 tanked idiots and morons. The fans are, were, and always will be the the most vulgar thing happening at an NFL event. Fact.

  16. souldogdave says: Mar 28, 2012 12:42 PM

    Well, they are changing to a offense friendly set of rules.There will be no more punishing defenses. Ronnie Lott wouldn’t play, but Deion Sanders would, since he never hit anyone anyway.Receivers will blithely prance over the middle, “defenseless”, and you can’t hit them at all. You must make a play on the ball, end of story. The dilution of the game continues, and saddens me.

  17. ravensd says: Mar 28, 2012 12:45 PM

    It’s official….the Hines Ward rule.

  18. fatcatt says: Mar 28, 2012 12:46 PM

    Another penalty that will be confusing to the fans, players, coaches and refs. As well as another thing that slows the game down with more penalties to call. This is also yet another judgement call that will be called differently by each official. Where does this end? We are at the tipping point where the only thing recognizable of what made the NFL what it is, is the football itself.

  19. bhindenemylines says: Mar 28, 2012 12:48 PM

    Now that Hines Ward has retired, is this expansion of the rule even needed?

  20. dirtybird28 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:48 PM

    Just in time for Ward’s retirement.

  21. dannersthemanners says: Mar 28, 2012 12:49 PM

    the3taveren: If you can’t make the point in a couple of sentences it may be best to just refrain.

  22. melikefootball says: Mar 28, 2012 12:54 PM

    The NFL is going to make playing defense obsolete. They will get their way and scores will be 95-98. The game is just as exiciting when a defense can hold a team and six points is important but with all the rules and MORE FINES you may as well be watching arena football.

  23. forthelove says: Mar 28, 2012 1:04 PM

    I’m not sure if there’s many (any) MMA fans on here. But the UFC made a rule change some years back prohibiting hits to the back of the head. And now ducking and covering and leaving the back of your head the only place they can hit is used in pretty much every PPV I’ve seen at one point or another. I wonder if guys on special teams or an LB that could get cracked my take similar advantage of this rule. Puts a lot of judgement call in the refs hands.

    btw- I’m not hating on MMA fighters, I know every one of them could whip my @$$.

  24. londonfletcher says: Mar 28, 2012 1:09 PM

    So, when is this just going to turn into soccer??

    I have an idea, just take the D out completely and let the scores run into the 200’s in every game, and between posessions, guys on dirt bikes jump the length of the field over lava!

    ..as long as the players are in no kind of physical contact, right?

  25. nflfollower says: Mar 28, 2012 1:10 PM

    Me like football—— this rule favors the defense. I understand your rant, but its misplaced on this article.

  26. willyalistentothis says: Mar 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    This is just part of the transition to the “rough touch” model. Soon defensive line drills at the combine will include counting Mississippis.

  27. beastup22 says: Mar 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    Goodell must be stopped!

  28. efriedo says: Mar 28, 2012 1:19 PM

    Actually, it is illegal to block someone on their blindside. If you look back at the Raiders-Lions game from last season, the Raiders had a 90 yard kickoff return called back for a “blindside block”. I was not aware that this rule existed until that game. So I guess if the other guy isn’t looking at you, it’s illegal to block him… (according to the official in that game who is the only official EVER to call a “blindside block” in the history of the NFL!)

  29. wiley16350 says: Mar 28, 2012 1:29 PM

    To continue with my previous writing. Another idiotic statement that I see appearing is people blaming Goodell. I mean can people really be this stupid or do they choose not to understand things. The OWNERS voted whether or not to make this change. Goodell had nothing to do with it. I mean talk about stupidity. More than likely the owners didn’t want to change this to cater to the Refs and not make disgruntled. That is why they didn’t do it in the past and more likely won’t in the future.

  30. skinstwin says: Mar 28, 2012 1:34 PM

    another rule that’s going to eventually make me stop watching football.

    too many rules will ruin anything…even the NFL

  31. firstandonlywarning says: Mar 28, 2012 2:49 PM

    Look at all the casual football enjoying lil boys fail at understanding that Goodell is an employee of the owners and NOT a part of the NFL rules and Competition Committee.

    Goodell does what he is TOLD
    Goodell does decide how big the fines are and things of this nature.

    But when it comes to the rules of the games, he is not part of the process of than enforcing the rules he is told.

    It DOES NOT MATTER WHO THE COMMISHONER IS, WAS OR WILL BE

    All these rules were coming, and you can thank that owners and other football people like Rich McKay, Steven Jones, Ozzie Newsome.

    Smarten up and try to educate yourself about the game you’re watching.

  32. jsavage58 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:50 PM

    HOORAY MORE PENALTIES!!!!!!!!! I almost made it through 3 minutes of uninterrupted football last season before I got to see just one more Built Ford Tough commercial followed by another Miller light, than a timeout, a commercial timeout, review timeout, penalty timeout, More commercial, pause for station identification, REPLAY REVIEW. Man O Man, I am trying,,, but I am also finding more and better ways to spend a sunday afternoon.

    LIKE A ROCK!!!!!!!!!!..

  33. mgm36 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:55 PM

    this is another GOOD rule change made by the coaches/execs of the NFL. It is for player safety. Anyone against player safety is a moron that obviously doesn’t understand that pro football will still be a violent, hard-hitting sport

  34. dannersthemanners says: Mar 28, 2012 3:04 PM

    I hate to say it but these rule changes stem from the player’s union. Without the fear of being sued Goodell wouldn’t be so concerned about player safety.

  35. dannersthemanners says: Mar 28, 2012 3:06 PM

    If you make millions playing in the NFL you should have a safety net and adequate insurance to cover you for injuries. Then you wouldn’t have to sue and Goodell wouldn’t have to clutter and complicate this game with more rules.

  36. stull60060 says: Mar 28, 2012 4:17 PM

    Gentlemen, just like our great nation, football is being regulated out of existence. If you want this nonsense to stop STOP WATCHING THE NFL! They understand what the bottom line is $$$$$. When the revenue goes down they’ll stop these stupid rules and regulations and get back to real football.

  37. eyeh8goodell says: Mar 28, 2012 5:13 PM

    @stull60060

    Already have, my man. Already have. Haven’t spent a single red cent on an NFL-related product in 2 years and have no plans to change that other than to run into the 3rd year and beyond. Probably watched less than 5 hours of NFL ball last season…including playoffs. I plan to watch even less this year, which isn’t hard since the product becomes far less interesting with each passing year.

    But being that I have a 30+ year emotional investment in pro football I will not go quietly. I will rain on the parade until the NFL is smoldering ash from the tidal wave of lawsuits, scandal, over-saturation, and over-extension……which probably is alot closer than most people think.

    Death to the NFL.

  38. check7734 says: Mar 28, 2012 5:42 PM

    I can’t wait to the NFL just switches to flag football. Stuff is getting pretty dumb in the pansy league.

  39. jeziyo247 says: Mar 29, 2012 10:06 AM

    Note to defenses, get as many of sacks you can get because sooner or later you wont be able to touch the QB like you can’t the punters or kickers. I know their trying to protect the players but isn’t this part of why they get paid alot. Believe it or not but we need injuries in the NFL because it makes it that much interested. For exp. Had not Bledsoe got injured, tom brady probably wouldn’t be who he is now, there are potential stars sitting on the bench waiting to get a opportunity to shine.

  40. curtdog63 says: May 21, 2013 6:59 PM

    I often wonder is it about the game of football or more motivated by money and politics. The game of football was great the way it was some years ago and it has drastically changed without much complaints from fans or players. Im so tired of all the “heads up tackling” none sense as if it’s a real problem. Unless im forgetting somebody who recently broke their neck or spine playing NFL football?

    PS Commissioner, if you dont want your QBs getting hit then tell them to chill on the 4-5 wide and bring in some TEs to block.

    PS Commissioner, if you dont want your WR to get their head knocked off then teach them the difference between zone and man defense. Set the route down in zones and run through man. Its a reason you never see the best WRs in football like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald etc gettig hit hard ever.

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