Farewell to one of the most exciting plays in football.
On Tuesday, the NFL reportedly approved the ban of leaping on field goal attempts according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The @NFL's no leaping rule for field goals passed, I'm told. Not a surprise. All about player safety— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 28, 2017
The leaping play, perhaps mostly made famous by the Seahawks’ own Kam Chancellor against the Panthers in the 2013 playoffs, displayed an extraordinary amount of athleticism for some of the world’s most extraordinary athletes.
And that’s about all it did. For any player that can pull it off, it requires a combination of exceptional strength, vertical leaping ability, but most importantly, timing. Only the very best in the NFL can pull it off and so it wasn’t like it had disrupted field goal or extra point attempts to a point where it had to be banned in order to correct a loophole. The NFL Network’s own Twitter handle was proud to promote it when the Patriots’ Shea McClellin successfully pulled it off in 2016:
The NFL was fine to show it off as a “Can’t Miss Play” when Bobby Wagner did it against the Cardinals last season as well. But Arizona head coach Bruce Arians called it “bad for football” when Wagner got him good in that game, saying it could hurt the longsnapper. Evidence of this? No. Evidence of literally every offensive and defensive snap being dangerous for players short and long-term health? Absolutely.
Not sure how many concussions, torn Achilles, broken legs, and mangled ACLs were due to a player leaping over another player, but I’m edging towards zero.
Oh, was Arians added to the league’s competition committee last August? You betcha. However, John Elway was also added to the competition committee at that time, and the Broncos beat the Saints 25-23 last November when Justin Simmons leapt on a PAT that would’ve given New Orleans the lead, blocked it, and it was returned for Denver’s game-winning two points. I guess the party poopers had majority though.
Strangely enough, the NFL Players Association also pushed for this, with president Eric Winston saying “there’s a chance for a big injury on that play.” Of course, the NFL still has punts. And kickoffs. I’m sure Ricardo Lockette could speak on what a “big injury” looks like. Bills safety Aaron Williams’ career was ended on a crackback block from Jarvis Landry last season, which was an illegal play and under new rule would mean an automatic ejection for Landry, but you can’t avoid injury entirely and danger lurks at every moment; certainly the leap on a field goal was one of the least dangerous plays in football.
The field goal try from within 40 yards and all PATs are still some of the most boring plays in football. The only thing that can sometimes raise the excitement of that is the possibility that it won’t succeed. Kickers can shank, players can sometimes get around the edge just in time for a block, but for the most part these are automatic and take the fun out of the moment. Leaping is rare, but it’s something. To remove it entirely seems to be another step back for a league that was losing fans rapidly last season.
And the idea that they would say that they’re doing it out of concern for “player safety” is downright offensive.