New "Player Safety" Rules Could Cause Unintended Headache for the NFL

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst IMarch 24, 2009

The picture above is that of a wedge block.

Well, a pre-2009 wedge block.

In the coming season, such a block will now be illegal as voted by the NFL higher-ups.

This comes as a package of four rule changes that will take place for 2009 involving "player safety."

Other rule changes taking place will be the elimination of the blind-side helmet-to-helmet block, initial contact to the head of a defenseless receiver will result in a 15-yard penalty (call this the "Anquan Boldin" rule), and no more than five players from the kicking team will be allowed to bunch together to retrieve an onside kick.

The helmet-to-helmet rule makes sense to a certain degree. Being hit in the head is always risky, especially when you don't see it coming. Actually, we can call this the "Hines Ward" rule, considering this is the only way he knows how to block.

The "Anquan Boldin" rule is something that's always been in place, really. It's just on the books now.

The ones that get me are the rule changes involving the kickoff.

No more than five players to retrieve an onside kick? These kicks were only recovered about 35 percent of the time anyway, that will drop to somewhere around 15-20 percent in 2009 and beyond.

They've effectively made the onside kick useless.

Then there's the rule for the kickoff team. No more than two players are allowed to form a wedge? That destroys the entire point of a wedge, and drastically reshapes special teams.

The wedge is the first thing any kickoff-return team learns. It's the fundamental building block of the entire return team.

Gone.

Read the rest of this article and more at 2 Minutes to Midnight Green!

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