Report: NFL to propose ban on field goal/extra point 'leaps'
The NFL may put an end to one of the most athletic plays on special teams.
The NFL is reportedly reconsidering a popular shortcut on special teams.
According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, the NFL Competition Committee is "likely" to propose a ban on players leaping over the long snapper to block a field goal or extra point attempt. This rule change was suggested publicly by the NFL Players Association at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Daren Bates, then playing for the St. Louis Rams, was the first in recent memory to successfully pull off this stunt when he did it against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter of a meaningless matchup between two losing teams in Week 16 of the 2014 season. The tactic garnered more national attention when Seattle Seahawks safety Cam Chancellor did on two consecutive plays in a playoff game against the Carolina Panthers a month later.
Here are a few instances in which the line-leaping technique was used during the 2016 season:
For the Saints and the other teams that were burned by this move during the 2016 season, this potential rule change comes one year too late.
The reason why this move is so effective is because the long snapper is looking through his legs when he delivers the ball to the holder. Because he has his head down and can't see what's in front of him, players from the opposing team are not allowed to line up over the long snapper — contacting him is also a touchy subject.
The block involving Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was controversial (the first of three videos above), as Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians called it "bulls***" after the game. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino explained why the play was legal under the interpretation of the current rules.
"There’s contact and then there’s incidental contact," Blandino said, per Pro Football Talk. "He can run up and jump, but he can’t land on players. Now if he brushes a player or brushes a teammate with incidental contact, that would be legal. So he’s gonna run, jump and clear the line, block the kick. You look at the TV copy replay and you can see that there is some contact. His foot is going to brush the back of the snapper, but that is not significant contact. It’s incidental. He didn’t land on players. So that’s what made it legal."
Changes to this rule could prevent special teams standouts from making these athletic attempts to block kicks in the future.
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