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Leaping Block Attempts Banned By NFL

Play that hurt Cardinals a season ago one of eight rule changes for 2017


Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner blocked a Cardinals field goal last season after leaping over the line of scrimmage.

Bruce Arians lambasted the legality of the leaping rule after his team was adversely affected by it in last year's tie against the Seahawks.

Some called his objection sour grapes, but the Cardinals coach isn't alone in his distaste for it.

The NFL owners voted on Tuesday to make eight rule changes, including the outlawing of the leap over the line of scrimmage on field goal and extra point attempts. The NFL Players Association advocated for the rule change because they were worried about the physical dangers of the play and the owners unanimously voted to eliminated it.

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner pulled off the play last season in Arizona, blocking Chandler Catanzaro's 39-yard field goal try. Wagner also leaped over the line of scrimmage in overtime, and while he didn't deflect the kick, Catanzaro missed a 24-yard field goal which would have ended the game.

According to the NFL, three of the 41 blocked kicks in 2017 came when a defender leaped over the line of scrimmage.

Arians spoke heatedly about the rule following the tie against the Seahawks, saying postgame he'd probably get an "an explanation that's all (expletive), like normal" from the NFL.

"It cannot be officiated," Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio a couple days later. "Whether he touches, whether it was leverage, was his foot within the framework of the defensive lineman's feet before he jumped, all those things that go into that call. I think it's bad for football.

"What you're going to have to do now is start having centers raise their face up and get kicked in the face and things that are just dangerous to the players. I think it's a dangerous play as it is and should be taken out of the game."

Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill cast his vote to ban the leap during the annual owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday.

"It's not football," Bidwill said. "It just didn't feel like a football play. It felt like trickery. It was that, and it was safety. Because somebody is really going to get hurt, three feet in the air, with cleats on. We don't allow launching, and we shouldn't allow leaping."

Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, said he knew the ban would be discussed after some high-profile leaps during the season. He said there was universal agreement within the NFL Players Association that the play should be made illegal due to the safety concerns.

"As teams began to understand how to block it, it became a little more concerning," McKay said. "Early on teams didn't know how to block it. The guard wasn't getting up in the air, the center wasn't getting up, nobody was chipping on the player and the player was getting a free run. All of a sudden, the player wasn't getting a free run, and now the player was coming down at a really bad angle."

The elimination of the leap was among eight rules changes for 2017. The others were:

-- Replay decisions will be handled by an official at the league office, consulting with a referee who has access to a hand-held, field-level monitor

-- Receivers running routes will get defenseless player protection

-- Crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion are prohibited, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped

-- After last year's test run, allowing officials to eject a player after two types of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties has been made permanent

-- It will be an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to commit multiple fouls during the same down to manipulate the game clock

-- Intentional attempts to conserve time will be illegal for the final two minutes of each half, rather than only the last minute

-- The placing of the ball at the 25 following a touchback on a free kick will be kept for another season

These rule proposal changes either did not pass or were tabled:

-- Putting touchbacks on the 20-yard-line if the kick went through the uprights.

-- Allowing a coach to challenge any play except scoring plays or turnovers

-- Shortening overtime from 15 to 10 minutes.

-- Expanding the crown of the helmet to include the hairline part of the helmet

-- Allowing teams to get a third challenge if just one of their first two were successful, and expanding reviewable plays outside of the final two minutes

-- Eliminating the three replay challenge limit and eliminating the need to be successful on the first two challenges to get a third

Images from the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore

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