- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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A commendable result of the NFL's spring meeting was a modification of the rules concerning unnecessary roughness. The dangerous defensive tactics of butting, spearing and ramming with the hard-shell helmet (SI, Aug. 14, 1978 et seq.), now will call for a 15-yard penalty. But the owners stopped short of eliminating the chop block used by the offense. Instead, they agreed to "appeal to coaches to discourage its use."
Purportedly to prevent injuries that might result from insufficient padding, the NFL at the same time informed its teams that players with uniform violations—and that includes flapping shirt-tails—will be forced to the sidelines until they are properly dressed. In other words, you can chop block a lineman as long as your jersey is tucked in.
A chop block is usually thrown as part of a double team by a lineman and back who are trying to protect their quarterback. It entails one of the blockers—most often the back—hitting a pass rusher below the waist, specifically in the vulnerable area of the knees, and many coaches think it should be banned.
All-Pro Offensive Lineman Conrad Dobler, a noted tough guy, unsurprisingly is pleased with the decision to leave chop blocking alone. "I'm concerned with safety and reducing injuries, too," Dobler says. "People have been hurt that way, no question, but if you don't stop the defensive rusher, he winds up killing your quarterback."
But even Dobler knows full well that asking coaches not to encourage the use of the chop block will hardly eliminate it. "The only way to kill it," he says, "is to make it illegal for the back to block below the waist."
Fortunately, there wasn't a crowd in Kansas City's Kemper Arena when the roof collapsed last week. Only a handful of people were working in the building, and no one was hurt. Although the cause of the cave-in has not been determined, there is speculation that the roof was weakened by a severe storm, which an hour before the collapse lashed the city with 70 mph winds and 3� inches of rain.
Kemper Arena is home to the Kansas City Kings of the NBA, next season's Big Eight basketball tournament and the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show. It was the site of the 1976 Republican National Convention, and, during the week of the collapse, the American Institute of Architects was holding its annual meeting there.
Ironically, the AIA had cited the arena in 1976 for its design, though AIA President Ehrman B. Mitchell Jr. said, "There wasn't any structural review in the award process."