NFL Rules History and Precedent: About That Brotherly Shove

About that “Brotherly Shove” aka the “Tush Push” Play and NFL History on Changing Rules…

Who knows here for 2024? I don’t agree with those who want to have a play changed simply because a team has the personnel and execution to kick butt with such a play, which a few other teams have copied as well.

Here’s a documentary on the roots of this play executed best by the Eagles in the NFL via a rugby union coach Richie Gray from rugby power Scotland:

The first two minutes are worth watching before they get into a detailed analysis. You might also enjoy Jason Kelce’s impersonation of the explanation by Gray for the play.

So why would this play be examined again perhaps for 2024 and have associated rules changed?

One buzzword that often makes things move in the modern NFL after about 2010 any more is “player safety,” so long as we are not talking about replacing the rest of that bad turf out there, which is another thread.

The NFL has many precedents for changing rules for “safety,” real or in vast embellishment, due to the dominance of any given player or team using certain techniques deemed “unsafe” or even “we must execute this decision, for it is better for the business, and this is business that we have chosen. We didn’t ask who gave the order!”

Take for example one of my favourite NFL documentaries of all time on NFL Hall of Famer Dick “Night Train” Lane, a defensive back well ahead of his time, who perhaps could pass for a time traveler and who terrorized any receiver who dared try to catch a ball or after the catch.

He was the first known shutdown corner, for quarterbacks daring to throw his way often paid a heavy price. Ron Burgundy even told me that even he never would thrown his way despite his Herculean arm. Whether you believe him or not, game know game folks.

Still don’t believe me? Check out the shots Lane delivered. They might make you cringe. I don’t think some of those guys were able to get up for a few days. Some might have never faced Lane again out of the great fear that stayed with them for life. In their sleep too!

Lore is that Night Train also spoke a strange language from Texas, sort of like my friend Superb Owl sounds when on the …yes his favourite drink…also called Night Train, which in turn is a great song by Guns ‘n’ Roses about, Night Train.

Some things in life come full circle you know?


Related on any discussion of a change in rules due to safety concerns, real or alleged, is what has come to be known as the “Hip Drop Tackle.”

Well folks, whether you have played football or rugby, this simply looks like a tackle and especially after you wrap up a player with proper tackling technique.

It appears this matter is going to be addressed in the offseason.

The article describes the far higher injury risk to the lower body that is associated with some of these tackles.

Even so most of the time, I don’t think that such an injury is due to this particular tackle rather than because it’s football and it happens and it’s a dangerous game.

Here is a video of what some say this type of tackle looks like, especially when it is from behind a player.

My opinion is for only one reform for sake of tackling in general and beyond merely what is designated all of a sudden as the “Hip Drop Tackle.”

Otherwise, I do not see how great advantage would not be given to the ball carrier when he’s not tackled from the front.

Deliberate launching of the lower body by a defensive into the lower body of player, after grasping the player on an attempt to tackle, should be outlawed in general.

Such a move to launch the lower body deliberately into another player’s lower body when tackling a player is akin to the leg whip or trip or analogous to the clothesline tackle on the upper body, which was outlawed due to the spectacular feats of clobbering by the NFL Hall of Famer Dick “Night Train” Lane, as shown in the videos linked above.

I am all for such a change to outlaw the deliberate launching of the lower body into a player for any reason including during any attempt to tackle or any tackle, which is as depicted in a few of these tackles in this video.


when are they going to wake up and ban all contact

There is always flag football for those interested in such a game of course.

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every injury I got playing football was in flag or tag. just cant win :slight_smile:


reminds me of the time we went to a wedding and on the day of the ceremony, some of us went out to play some ball in a field near the church. There was this electrical box of some sort sticking out of the ground near one side. The guy I was coving went for a low ball and dove head into the box. Had to get stitches, then come right back because he was in the wedding party. Hey, what harm can there be in playing a little tag ball. :slight_smile:


if only there was the same push to make wars safer

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Ah well, that’s another thread, but I do agree it’s best to avoid them.

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Crosslink here because perhaps this is a rule that is reviewed as well…

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Following the previous post in December, here’s more on the history of the NFL rule on touchbacks after fumbles out of bounds through the end zone.

Noted is also one example of one antiquated rule in the NFL, which was only changed after being untouched since the last occurrence in 1941 after it had been forgotten about altogether, with no known attempts since 1941 pursued by coaches or players.

A few of you here in the CFL Forum Council of Geezers might remember something about those days though.

As the following post will explain, the change by the NFL to the rule on kicking beyond the line of scrimmage is reported to have been made in 1991, not in 1997 as I had recalled vaguely from an old print article decades ago.


Welcome to Did You Know This Was The Rule?

Up until the 1991 NFL season, a player with the ball also past the line of scrimmage could do any one of the following as well:

  1. Declare himself down (still true in all of gridiron football as well and never changed)
    2) Call a timeout
    3) Punt
    4) Attempt a drop kick

Who knew!?

Incredulous, I wanted proof along these lines, and well folks, we not only have it but I may have watched this game as a kid with no clue what just happened as had the announcers and even the officials, who only got the call right after consultation!

Here in 1980 was Danny White of the Cowboys punting a ball LEGALLY downfield.

Watch the clip and be prepared to be amazed!

Now of course I have to wonder that as this happened on a special Sunday Night edition of Monday Night Football in 1980 at a time before there were regularly-scheduled games on Sunday nights, why did it take the NFL owners another ten years to change the rule!?


Well, as my wife says with regards to rules in the NFL vs the CFL, hope this post is ok here :wink: , regardless of whether you like x rule in whatever league for a comparison, it’s the same for both teams competing agains’t each other in whatever league. And she is absolutely correct. Timing rules etc. doesn’t matter.

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I hesitated to post the following that I watched last night, and the author, Jon Johnston, does an overall good job except he gets parts about rugby wrong and should have studied up just a little bit, even with only Wikipedia, before talking about that part. He did a fine job with the rest of his research.

But it’s slow time now, so why not?

As he cites correctly and as Dave Grohl stated in a commercial for Crown Royal during the Super Bowl in February 2023, thank you McGill University and Canada for showing Harvard a better game in 1874.

Before 1874 and until further developments in the coming years, American football was a mayhem of 30 guys smacking the crap out of each other when chasing a ball around up and down the field, sort of like a totally disordered version of modern Australian Rules Football.

The rest of the video goes into the utter mess that was American football in the US until blocking was allowed in 1888 even after they finally agreed on a reasonable scoring system in 1884 after Walter Camp and others agreed on three downs and five yards in 1882.

In my opinion, it took over 100 years well into the 1980s for college football to become more exciting beyond the typical offense on Saturday afternoons, for which the average offensive play was still two yards and a cloud of dust for many college teams until the 2000s.

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Competition Committee discussed XFL kickoff, could propose version for vote at Annual League Meeting (

I sure hope they do this


The kick offs in the NFL are absolutely not fan friendly. I know they had to do it this way because of the poor guys catching kicked balls were literally getting injured and it was matter of time before they started getting sued. But wow they need to do something to make kick returns happen with the great danger to the one guy trying to return the ball


I agree it would be a smart compromise, allowing returns but reducing “high-speed” collisions.

BTW … this is the everyone but the kicker is downfield, lined up 10 yards from the returning team and nobody moves until the kick is caught … not the Vince McMahon S-C-R-A-M-B-L-E for the ball “kickoff”.

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You start seeing 5 yards kicks if they could not move untill the ball is caught. Yes an over exaggeration but not letting anyone movevuntil the ball is caught is not going to help

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There has been much chatter on this front for months, and obviously there is a problem with what is regularly on screen after each score such as seen by more than ever on a TV than the moon landing during the Super Bowl.

I’m not holding my breath though. One core challenge seems to be what would be the alternative to replace the onside kick if not keeping the onside kick. There is ample disagreement here amidst all the ideas.

As the XFL is no more much like the USFL, replaced by the new league UFL 4.0, the new league interestingly has gone not only back to kickoffs like they were decades ago, but it has made far more certain there will be a kickoff return since the kickoff is from the 20-yard line.

It’s an open question what could be the reasoning for this change other than perhaps a more exciting game on TV?

I’m not holding my breath for a change this season in the NFL.
24 of the 32 generally traditional owners must agree.
But of course the latest briefing of reports by medical specialists and lawyers can drive this conversation for a change quite quickly.

Otherwise we will see how the rules pertaining to special teams work out in the UFL, which no doubt the NFL will be watching as well.

Here’s an excellent summary and analysis of the new rules, for which many of us have mixed reviews though I’m going to be patient and just watch for what does work out:


Kicker lines up at his 30-yard line, with the 10 other members of the kickoff team lining up at the opponent’s 35 – 5 yards away from the returning team. The kicker and returner are the only players who can move until the ball is fielded. Touchbacks are placed at the 35-yard line.

The idea is to increase the number of kick-off returns (i.e., fewer kicks into/through the endzone) but not have the coverage team build up a full head of steam before attempting to tackle the returner … obviously details could be tweaked.


Football fan friends, I am afraid I have to share some bad news on this front, for which many of us was probably the FIRST rule that should be changed this year in the NFL and in all of American football.

For background, including the associated history of this rule, please click the text replied above.

The owners have a very long history of siding with tradition, and this one is not even making it to the table at the owners’ meeting in April.

Ah, horse pucky.

Many fans, and players, do not like this rule, but it seems like it is not going anywhere. The NFL competition committee went over the rule on Monday and the discussion to change it did not get very far, according to Judy Battista of NFL Media.

The competition committee defended the rule, saying the player carrying the ball is responsible for maintaining control, using this as the reasoning for why the rule does not need to be changed. Per NBC Sports, the competition committee is not expected to recommend to teams that the ruling is changed.