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  • The New "Hines Ward" rule

    Ward's hit may bring change
    Blindside blocks could draw flag

    Thursday, March 19, 2009
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The NFL changed a rule more than 30 years ago that became known as the Mel Blount Rule, and now Hines Ward might have one to call his own as well.

    A rule to eliminate a blindside block to the head of a defender will be proposed at the league meetings, which begin Sunday in Dana Point, Calif.

    Those proposing the rule acknowledged yesterday that Ward's block in October, which broke the jaw of rookie Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers, was among the plays reviewed when they drew it up.

    "It's one of several plays we looked at, that's correct," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "Under this year's rules, that was a legal hit but we're trying to advance our player safety ... and that would be a flag play."

    By that, Anderson meant that the hit raised a flag as to the new rules proposal, and even after viewing it on film they were not sure if Ward's would be a legal hit or not if the new rule passes.

    The proposal, according to Anderson and competition committee co-chair Rich McKay, is to try to eliminate or penalize any helmet-to-helmet contact that occurs on a blindside block.

    "We have people downfield -- tight ends, receivers or even linemen -- who head back to the line of scrimmage [to throw a block]," McKay said. "We're trying to protect that defender and so that you cannot block that defender in the head. We'd rather have the blocker attempt the block in the chest area, anywhere but the head."

    It's not clear even by watching the video, the two NFL officials said, whether Ward's block was with his helmet or shoulder.

    "I think there was some debate there," Anderson said. "Some of our eyes may have seen helmet to helmet, some may have seen shoulder to helmet."

    Ward was neither penalized nor fined for the hit on Rivers.

    "Certainly Hines' was one that was perfectly legal last year," Anderson said, "but as Rich said, the result of those types of hits led to the conclusion that for safety's sake, we want to eliminate those types of blindside hits if you will."

    The NFL passed new rules in 1978 that benefited the passing game. Perhaps the major change was the one that become known as the "Mel Blount Rule" because defenders no longer could bump a receiver 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Previously, they could bump a receiver anywhere until the ball was in the air. Blount, a Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback, used his 6-foot-3, 205-pound size to overwhelm receivers before a pass was thrown.

    McKay acknowledged that the competition committee focused on player safety when they came up with four of their seven rules proposals for the owners to consider next week. Another Steelers player might have helped inspire one of them.

    Ryan Clark had celebrated hits on New England wide receiver Wes Welker and Baltimore running back Willis McGahee last season, which were decried by many but declared legal and never drew fines. Those might fall in a gray area if Rule Proposal No. 4 passes next week.

    "In 1995, we passed a rule that allowed there to be protection for a defenseless receiver in the air, helmet to helmet," McKay said.

    The new rule would expand that to include a hit with a forearm or shoulder to the head until the receiver has two feet on the ground.

    "There were an awful lot of hits in the last couple of years that have been legal but very tough on the players," McKay said. "We're trying to expand that protection."

    While Clark's hits came with his shoulder to the head, both receivers had their feet on the ground at the time, so that type of hit still might be legal if the new rule passes.

    Other safety rules proposals involve the elimination of the "bunching" of players on onside kicks and limiting the number of players who can be used in a "wedge" on kickoff returns to two.

    Some other minor rules adjustments will be considered, including a small expansion of plays that can be reviewed by replay. The owners also will continue to discuss expanding the regular season to 17 or 18 games but no decision can be made on that. The NFL Players Association would have to agree to such an expansion and that likely will be among the debates when the sides begin labor negotiations.

    There is a proposal to change the draft order of teams involved in the playoffs, but there is little sentiment by players or club officials to change the NFL's overtime rules, the two league officials said yesterday.
    Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.




    Anyone else ready to break out the flags?

    Yeah, I play WoW too.[/CENTER]

  • #2
    I love ward and those kind of hits. Sure players get injured by them, thats why it is a contact sport. If you don't want to get tough contact play Golf.

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    • #3
      Sounds like a good move. It's not really need in the game. And people get hurt by it.

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      • #4
        FML. 10 characters

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        • #5
          No way. A rule change helping defensive players?!?
          I'm a state.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Michigan View Post
            No way. A rule change helping defensive players?!?
            yeah this doesnt make any sense at all

            bonekrusher on the sig magic
            <beans> libid dont worry man i think fondling big black men is a perfectly worthy career goal
            <JBond> laughing so hard I am crying

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            • #7
              Originally posted by The Legend View Post
              Sounds like a good move. It's not really need in the game. And people get hurt by it.
              Really? Blindside blocks aren't needed in the game? People watch football for the big hits. Hell, I am speaking as a defender. Get hit like that once and you will get your head on a swivel from there on out.

              I have absolutely no problem with those blocks. The defenseless receiver is a different story, because he has to be looking for the ball in the air. A defender is supposed to keep his head on a swivel at all times.
              I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
              Hunter S. Thompson

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              • #8
                Originally posted by someone447 View Post
                Really? Blindside blocks aren't needed in the game? People watch football for the big hits. Hell, I am speaking as a defender. Get hit like that once and you will get your head on a swivel from there on out.

                I have absolutely no problem with those blocks. The defenseless receiver is a different story, because he has to be looking for the ball in the air. A defender is supposed to keep his head on a swivel at all times.

                It is only legal to touch the reciever once the ball has been touched, so in most situations he isnt looking for the ball anymore.... Why shouldnt recievers have to keep their heads on a swivel? Defenders have to watch the ball carrier and avoid blocks, recievers should have to watch the ball and avoid hits....

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                • #9
                  I hate it. The NFL is becoming a pussies only league.

                  This is football, not soccer folks. Anything other than blatant attempts to hurt someone (ex diving at knees unnecessarily, leading helmet first, etc) should be just fine.

                  But, this is the age we live in.....I guess it was inevitable.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BeerBaron View Post
                    I hate it. The NFL is becoming a pussies only league.

                    This is football, not soccer folks. Anything other than blatant attempts to hurt someone (ex diving at knees unnecessarily, leading helmet first, etc) should be just fine.

                    But, this is the age we live in.....I guess it was inevitable.
                    Down with Goodell!!!

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                    • #11
                      Just to clarify the article discusses the banning of blindside blocks to the head. I think in today's game this is completely warranted and doesn't diminish the "toughness" of the game in any way.

                      I am a firm believer in the supposition that the NFL is becoming softer and softer, but this rule change would prevent a lot of unnecessary injuries. A devestating blindside block can still be performed without aiming at the player's head, the same way that we are able to have intimidating hits without the dangerous necktie tackles.

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                      • #12


                        Clean.

                        Thanks BoneKrusher^

                        http://youtube.com/watch?v=6_j52DziMy4 (the man)
                        http://youtube.com/watch?v=2g6S3Anto7c
                        KO KNOWS

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by steelersfan43 View Post
                          It is only legal to touch the reciever once the ball has been touched, so in most situations he isnt looking for the ball anymore.... Why shouldnt recievers have to keep their heads on a swivel? Defenders have to watch the ball carrier and avoid blocks, recievers should have to watch the ball and avoid hits....
                          It also used to be legal to hit them after the ball had passed. But it didn't have to be past by much, just slightly over his head.

                          Have you ever tried to catch a ball while looking at a defensive back? A thrown ball moves much, much, much faster than a running back. Those are completely different situations.

                          I find it hard to believe I am arguing against for something that will help the defense, considering I was a defensive player during most of my playing years, and I think a well fought defensive battle is as entertaining, if not more so than a high scoring shootout.
                          I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
                          Hunter S. Thompson

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by M.O.T.H. View Post


                            Clean.
                            Yeah he used his shoulder so I don't think that would get banned.

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                            • #15
                              The hit by Hines was totally legal injuries are part of the game.
                              Originally posted by 49erNation85
                              I dunno even half of those guys why did we sign them jeez.

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