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Archive for March, 2012

Crackback Blocks — What’s it all about?

This past Wednesday, NFL owners approved the proposal to extend the defenseless player rule to include recipients of a crackback block. After I made this post about the new rule changes, a couple of people asked me, “What is a crackback block?”

Though there are variations, basically a crackback block is a block by an offensive player (often a wide receiver) who first heads downfield then turns back toward the middle of the field to cut down, typically, a linebacker or defensive back from the side. Defensive backs will sometimes yell, “crack” to alert the intended targets to this play.

One such play that caused quite a bit of controversy occurred in October 2008 when then Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward delivered a crackback block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers. Ward, who was actually playing a slot receiver position at the time, had run downfield, then cut back and laid a crushing, blindside block on Rivers which broke Rivers’ jaw, forcing him out for the season. A controversy arose when Hines was neither flagged nor fined for the hit that some deemed as unnecessary roughness/ illegal. However, the next year, the owners did pass what was often called, The Hines Ward Rule that made a blindside block illegal “if the block came from the blocker’s helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of a defender.” Which is essentially what Wednesday “new” rule does though the difference may be in the penalty and that it now includes players on defense.


photo by Peter Diana/Post Gazette 10-14-08


Rule Changes Adopted By NFL Owners

A brief outline of the new rule proposals adopted by the NFL owners yesterday, March 28, at their annual meeting.


  1. Overtime rule for the regular season will now be the same as the postseason OT rule
  2. All plays resulting in a turnover will automatically be reviewed
  3. Too many men on the field will now be a dead-ball foul with the clock stopping
  4. Loss of a down for kicking a loose ball
  5. Defenseless player rule expanded to include recipient of a crackback block
The fate of other proposals:



  • Proposal to extend the 15 yard penalty for horse tackles to include quarterbacks in the pocket
  • Proposal to have instant replays reviewed by the booth officials rather than officials on the field


  • Proposal to allow concussed players to be replaced (under certain circumstances)
  • Proposal to allow a player to return from the injury reserved list the same season (under certain circumstances)
  • Proposal to extend the trade deadline from the 6th week of the regular season to the 8th week

32 NFL Owners meet to discuss issues and rule changes

After a tumultuous week highlighted by unprecedented suspensions, the Annual NFL Owners meeting began today, March 25, 2012 in Palm Beach, Florida. Some of the issues owners will be discussing are:

  1. Extending postseason overtime rules to the regular season
  2. Automatic review of all plays that result in a turnover
  3. All replay rulings viewed and made by the booth official instead of by the referee on the field
  4. Increasing offseason/training camp rosters from 80 players to 90
  5. Extending 15-yard penalty for horse-collar tackle (pictured above) to include quarterbacks in the pocket
  6. Extending trade deadline from 6 weeks into the regular season to 8
  7. Under some circumstances, allowing a player to return from the injured reserve list the same season
  8. Using college rules for 12 men on the field penalties — making it a dead ball foul as opposed to losing yardage and taking time off the clock
  9. Allowing for concussed players to be replaced.
  10. Possible announcement of opening weekend games/teams


Photo: horse collar tackle by DE Cliff Avril, Lions on QB Carson Palmer, Raiders on 12/18/11. Avril was fined $10,000 for the illegal tackle. Source


Annual NFL Owners’ Meeting Begins today at the Breakers, Palm Beach

Annual NFL Owners' Meeting  Begins today at the Breakers, Palm Beach

The NFL Owners meeting begins today, March 25 and runs through Wednesday, March 28. In the backdrop of the luxury resort The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, the 32 owners gather at their annual meeting to discuss relevant issues. The schedule (from here) includes:

* Sunday: Owners and coaches arrive; committee meetings; and informal meetings with reporters

* Monday: League Meetings officially begin; Commissioner Roger Goodell press conference at noon

* Tuesday: AFC Coaches meet with media in a.m.; more league/committee meetings in p.m.

* Wednesday: NFC Coaches meet with media in a.m. where Sean Payton is expected to appear; Competition Committee will vote on rule changes; Roger Goodell holds final news conference


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