Following a backlash from coaches and the players’ union, the NFL has cracked down on the leaping play at the league owners meetings this week. The act of leaping the line of scrimmage on field goals and extra points is now banned, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The leaping play became a major talking point last season, when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner jumped the line to block a field goal attempt from Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro. His fellow teammate, safety Kam Chancellor, has also been well-known for his leaping abilities.
After that game ended in a 6-6 tie, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians came down hard against the leap, calling it “bullshit” and “bad for football.” Arians’ main concern is safety for the center, who must keep his head down before snapping the ball and likely won’t see a defender leaping over him.
“Because what you’re going to have to do now is start having centers raise their face up and get kicked in the face and things that are just dangerous to the players,” Arians said. “I think it’s a dangerous play as it is and should be taken out of the game.”
NFLPA president Eric Winston expressed a similar sentiment, via The Washington Post:
“If you jump over the center, the jumper is in a really bad spot. He can land on his head. I think the guys that are getting jumped over are going to end up getting hurt, with those guys landing on them. So I’ll be very interested to see what they’ll do there. I think something probably needs to be done.”
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien noted the inherent danger to the play.
“It can be a dangerous play when a guy gets flipped in the air,” O’Brien said. “You don’t want guys landing on their head. But it is an exciting play. I know the fans probably like it.”
Although the field goal leap is only attempted a handful of times per year, there’s been enough outcry about the play that the competition committee listened to their voices.
We here at SB Nation endorse the leap and will bemoan its loss, since it adds a level of excitement to otherwise rote special teams plays. Nevertheless, it is probably the smart move. Now defenders will have to find other creative ways to attempt a blocked field goal or extra point.
For old times’ sake, here’s one more look at Wagner doing his best Olympic jumper impression.