Offensive lineman Ralph Tamm has been around the block a few times—and many of the blocks he threw in the process were illegal. Now a long snapper with the Chiefs, Tamm built a repertoire of tricks while playing on seven teams since he joined the league as a ninth-round draft pick out of West Chester (Pa.) University, in 1988. His motto: It's not dirty, it's crafty. Here are some of the moves he's most proud of.
"The most annoying thing for a defensive player is when you get your hands inside his face mask or under his chin. You only have to get your hand up there for a second. If your hand slips up toward the guy's throat, jam it up there and then pull it out. You really have to make a conscious effort to get it out, or you could get flagged or, worse, bitten."
"I picked this up from Jeff Bostic when I was with the Redskins. Sometimes a defensive lineman will bull-rush with his head down. If you see it coming, get your hands on the front of his shoulder pads, take a couple of good hops backward and, when he moves forward, use your leverage to drive him into the turf."
"I got this from Russ Grimm in Washington. If a pass rusher is attacking your outside shoulder, grab his shoulder on the side he's attacking from and pull it down, then push up on the shoulder he's leaving behind. If you press really hard on the upside shoulder, you can roll him over and flat-back him."
The Separation Head Butt
"I saw the Bills' Jim Ritcher do this on film, and I really admired it, so I copied it. When a pass rusher knocks your hands down or lifts them to get loose from you, use a head butt to create some space, buy a little time and try something else."
The Leg Whip
"This is a 49ers staple. If you try to cut block a guy and miss him—or maybe he's moving away from you to follow the flow of a running play—you lift your back leg and swing it into the air. You try to trip him, but it looks like you're doing something athletic or falling out of the way. Everyone does that."
The Heel Hook
"This is sort of a desperation move, but if a guy runs right by you, you can always fall and grab the back of his heel with your hand."
The Belt Pull
"When I was with the 49ers, I flat-backed [ Chargers linebacker] Junior Seau in the end zone on a goal line running play. I charged forward like I was going to throw a nice clean block, then I got my helmet and one hand up in his chest. I grabbed his belt buckle with my other hand, then lifted and pulled in, and before he knew what hit him, he was down and we had a touchdown."