Beginning with last Sunday Night’s Hall of Fame game, another subtle rule change was put in place to protect player safety at the line of scrimmage during special teams plays.
For the 2013 season, the NFL no longer allows block units to overload one side of the line during field goal and punt block situations, and prohibits players from lining up over the long snapper and overloading with linebackers to push through the middle.
The rule is intended to protect long snapping specialists, whose job it is to deliver the ball in a highly specialized manner, leaving them defenseless to rampaging defenders.
For all injuries prevented and careers prolonged by the rule change, players have Redskins center
Following the 2012 season, Montgomery presented to the NFL competition committee, advocating for a rule that few outside of the NFL locker room would even think to change.
“They had all the guys there, including [Pro Football Hall of Famer] John Madden, and there’s a good 100-plus people there,” Montgomery told Redskins.com. “I just pulled together about 30 film clips, about 15 of them of just guys just getting their butts kicked and then about another 15 of them with guys doing it the legal and safe way, but still blocking field goals.”
The second part of the rule prevents teams from overloading blockers on one side of the line, leaving the blockers heavily outmatched at the point of attack.
Montgomery’s inspiration for the change came with personal testimony, as he typically plays the equivalent of the right tackle position during field goal attempts.
“I had a game, we played the Bengals this year, and I had two guys over me and two guys behind them pushing, so it was basically four-on-one,” he said. “My foot slipped and I actually went down and did a split and pulled a hamstring. I’m like ‘man, this is ridiculous.’ Like, it’s literally impossible to hold up that much force.
“I emailed [NFLPA Director] DeMaurice Smith and got the ball rolling with that.”
As noted in his presentation, the rule is not intended to detract from overall strategy, considering there is no history of success with these tactics anyway. Instead, it simply favors means of blocking kicks that puts fewer players at risk for serious harm.
“You’re no longer allowed to have double-pushers on field goal,” he explained. “So you used to load up a couple guys and put some linebackers behind them and push them.
“Now, they can’t line up over center and they can’t have a linebacker pushing the guy through. They can still rush, it’s just not over the center, and not with a linebacker aiding the rush.”