CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
Last week, in a decision that should cut down on injuries, NFL team owners elected to outlaw the dangerous crackback block. The rule change now makes it illegal for a wide receiver or back to move to the outside, reverse direction, fire back toward the ball and crack back below the waist.
The crackback has been illegal since 1974 for wide receivers lined up as pass catchers, but until this year, running backs were allowed to use it—often grievously injuring defensive linemen.
The crackback is much the same as the trap block, the important difference being that the blocker is moving at full speed when he makes contact with the penetrating lineman, who usually is blind-sided so that the risk of a knee injury is high. In 1973 in Washington, to cite but one example, a crackback block by a Redskins' running back wrecked the knee of the Cardinals' Ron Davis, 22, an injury that ended his career.
The owners also agreed to make the game a more clearheaded proposition for offensive linemen by banning the head slap from the repertoire of pass rushers. Applied by such past masters as Deacon Jones, the head slap gave offensive linemen a headache in every sense of the word.
It now remains for the NFL to find a way of effectively protecting quarterbacks, 34 of whom were injured during the 1976 season.
Tom and Tim Gullikson, 25-year-old identical twins from Onalaska, Wis., were ranked 39th and 45th last year by the U.S. Tennis Association. They are identical save for one thing. Tim is righthanded, Tom is a lefty—a fact that was a relief to Karl Meiler of West Germany.
Not long ago on the WCT tour, Meiler lost to right-handed Tim and two weeks later bowed to left-handed Tom. At the time he did not know there were two Gulliksons.
"When the second one beat me in straight sets," Meiler said, "I was very depressed that there was a player who could beat me using either hand."