By Nick Shook
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The rules of the professional game stipulate that a player cannot be used as leverage when trying to vault over opponents to block a field goal. But it didn’t take into account those freakish athletes who populate NFL rosters.
It was a novel idea at first, but it’s seeing more and more attempts in recent years. We’re talking about the field goal leap, of course, and now the NFL Players Association wants it eliminated.
NFLPA president Eric Winston and fellow representatives told the league’s competition committee on Wednesday that there should be a ban on defensive players leaping over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a kick, the Washington Post reported.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport elaborated on the NFLPA’s stance Thursday.
“It’s really a play that did not sound like the competition committee had been dealing with this much until over the last couple of years, and now the NFLPA so badly, as is clearly the case, wants to eliminate this for safety reaasons,” Rapoport said. “It certainly would seem difficult for NFL teams to go against that. I would not be surprised, with the backing of the NFLPA, that this happens and players are no longer allowed to leap over the center.”
Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu popularized the leap at the line of scrimmage, ending plays quickly with surprise sacks earned by going over the top of centers and guards. The strategy then moved to field goal attempts, when players could no longer use teammates or opponents as leverage to jump higher with an outstretched hand. Teams’ best leapers took it upon themselves to vault over the long snapper — who by rule, could not be touched — land in front of the kicker and holder, and leap again to block the kick.
“The players have gotten bigger and faster and much more athletic,” Rapoport explained Thursday. “You not only have 170-pound corners doing this, you’re going to have 245-, 250-pound linebackers, this really could put players at risk. I would not be surprised if this was eliminated, and really, it should be.”
There isn’t much to present in defense of the leap, and with the NFLPA bringing this concern to the league’s competition committee, this seems likely to be outlawed sooner rather than later.