Requiem For The Crackback?S

The crackback block, which caused Warren Sapp to demand that Mike Sherman "put on a jersey!" and other fun confrontations, may be on its way to extinction.

They were going to call it the Warren Sapp Rule in 2007, the last time a high-profile crackback precipitated talk of an NFL rule change. Now Sapp is off the hook, and Hines Ward gets his moniker attached to the controversial play in which a hapless, unsuspecting player is ambushed with a vicious block, usually during a change of possession. Ward's laying out of Bengals' linebacker Keith Rivers in October, which resulted in a broken jaw and Rivers' missing the rest of the season, is again the subject of debate at the NFL meetings going through Wednesday at Dana Point, Calif.

Whatever ... as long as they don't make it illegal in basketball.

"As we stand here today, we say it's a good football play," Steelers president Art Rooney II said of Ward's block. "Too bad the guy got hurt, but it's a good football play. It's been in the game forever. We want to see how they present it."

So, a big point of contention here among those who say it's the cheapest of cheap shots and want to see it banned (or, at least the type of crackback where the player leads with his helmet), and those who say that it's a slippery slope, and what's next? Outlawing tackling all together?

Oh well, at least they had the comedy stylings of Condoleeza Rice to keep the things from getting too contentious.

Meanwhile, another idea up for approval is moving the NFL draft from April to late February (to which Jets fans responed: "Boooooo!").

Other stuff up for review:

• Expanding the regular season to 17 games (a new loss record for the Lions to shoot for!).

The Houchuli Rule (what every official aspires to: A rule change in honor of one of your screwups).

• Change in overtime rules (shootouts?).

I'm just glad that during a major recession, when the NFL laid off 150 of its staff of 1,100, the league still finds the cash to hold its meeting here.

Rooney Not Sold On Rule Change [Tribune Review]
A Point Of Clarification For Our Friends In The Media [Pro Football Talk]
Owners Might Consider Moving NFL Draft To Late February [Pro Football Weekly]