The rugby maul play will likely remain in place for 2023, and perhaps beyond.
The full set of proposed rule changes for next week’s annual meetings — from teams and from the Competition Committee — do not include a rule prohibiting teammates from pushing the ball carrier. Unless the owners do it on their own (and at least 24 in all agree with the move), the play will continue to fair game.
Although the rule against pushing the ballcarrier was scrapped in 2006, teams did not begin using it strategically on a widespread basis until this season. The Eagles used it on numerous occasions in Super Bowl LVII.
New Broncos coach Sean Payton has vowed to use the tactic aggressively, if the rule remains on the books.
It’s an effective tool, if the quarterback is willing and able to be squished between offensive linemen and the players who push him forward. Teams that don’t have a quarterback who can survive such an assignment can use another player for the formation, whether a Taysom Hill-type quarterback or a player who usually plays a different position.
But while it works, it’s not much to look at. For a league that is so obsessed with appearances, it’s strange that it would welcome a play that is less artistry than it is tug of war.