Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Jan 2006

Could Kimo's Hit on Carson Cause New Rule?

Some speculation coming out of Cincinnati indicates that the NFL might change its rules to make it illegal for defensive linemen to roll into quarterbacks the way Kimo von Oelhoefen did to Carson Palmer. Rules changes resulting from one specific player or event have always interested me. Roy Williams was the most recent. Can you think of any others?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 29 Jan 2006

42 comments, Last at 30 Jan 2006, 11:25pm by Björn


by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 7:19pm

Well, there was the rule banning the head slap, which is often attributed to Deacon Jones (although I'm too young to remember exactly). The Bengals running hurry-up under Sam Wyche are responsible for the substitution rule that if the offense substitutes, the defense must be given a chance to do so as well. I've heard that the Raiders are responsible for the rule against having more than 11 in the huddle, although I think that was a bit before my time as well.

by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 7:29pm

Calling it the Kimo rule would be only because he was the last one to do it. Roethlisberger got hit similarly by a Bengal during the season. That hit is what led (along with other injuries) to him missing several games. In Ben's case, the hit was to the front of the knee instead of the side.

by Noble (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 7:31pm

Uh... wasn't Von Oelhoefen blocked into Palmer?

by Craig B (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 7:37pm

I recall Steinbach not finishing his block once the ball was Carson threw the ball. His letting up caused Kimo to fall forward at Carson, but I am probably wrong.

Another rule change came this past offseason after the Broncos' George Foster chopped the Bengals' Tony Williams at the knee in a Monday night game.

by Craig B (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 7:38pm

Just to clarify, the above rule I mentioned was that it was illegal to block an unsuspecting defender when the block would have no bearing on the play. (like Sapp's hit on Clifton)

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:04pm

Re #5: I always found that rule interesting, just because it's one of the few rules that I can think of that was specifically designed to protect DEFENSIVE players.

When the league makes a new rule to protect offensive players, I simply yawn and move on. When they make a rule to protect defensive players, then I sit up and take notice.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:38pm

My favorite was the clothesline rule and Dick "Night Train" Lane. When we were in Jr. High our coach showed us some film of him (can't for the life of me remember why), and then told us DBs that we couldn't find a better player to emulate.

Found out about the clotheslines later. Bit of a weird moment.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:43pm

Why not just ban helmet to helmet contact against ALL players, not just golden boy QBs?

by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:50pm


It is banned.


The fine for "spearing" by defenders is actually designed to protect defenders because tackling that way can cause significant injury to the tackler.

by mathesond (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 8:53pm

I believe the Raiders were also the inspiration for the league's rule regarding forward-fumbles

by Vlad (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:00pm

Man, thats pathetic. If this is enacted as a rule, sacking a quarterback becomes a freaking joke. You spend a few violent seconds trying to wrestle a 300-pound behemoth off you and then you have to stop and calmly discover that magical tiny little area where its legal to hit the qb. That's ridiculous.

Bob Sanders had a tackle he was wildly congratulated for on Willie Parker in the season game between the two teams. His technique was basically launching himself directly at Parker's kneecap. That's a great defensive play and scrambling to knock over a qb isnt. Consistency, people!

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:04pm

It doesn't seem that way. I see guys getting hit with helmets all the time.

by Show (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:09pm

Re # 2

Actually that was Odell who hit Roethlisberger low. It was in the game in Pittsburgh, and Ben hasn't missed a game since. The hit that caused him to miss some time probably happened at the end of the MNF contest at San Diego.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:21pm

This won't happen. The man was playing football. We are all sorry it happened, but this wasn't a dirty play. And last I checked it's a contact sport. And in contact sports bad things happen.

DB's lathering up with stickum see Lester Hayes

One of my more favorite moments was watching Lester get ready to go out on the field and then 2 plays later the opposing qb throws a ball and Lester sticks out his hand and catches the ball. Only he did so by getting the TOP of the ball where it held long enough for him to be able to pull the ball in for an interception.

It sounds crazy and if I had not seen it myself I wouldn't believe it.

He stuck out his hand, he got the top of the ball, it held for just a moment and then he cradled it to his chest. All in one continuous series of motions.

I know this film is in the NFL archives somewhere. I would love to see it again if only to assure myself that I was not imagining things.

by charles (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:52pm

The bert emanuel rule from the nfc championship game between rams and bucs. If a receiver has control of the ball, a part of the ball can still touch the ground.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 9:59pm

#9 and #12
Helmet to Helmet contact is allowed.

First exception to this rule are quarterbacks after they have passed the ball (I think it's debatable on during a sack). Second exception is on a defenseless receiver.

Some helmet-helmet contact is classified as "spearing"... spearing is not allowed, although Sean Taylor and Roy Williams and probably some other saftey's get away with it.

Were some of these rules changes introduced due to the play of Mark Carrier?

I'm not a NFL rulebook... so there may be more exceptions.

by Adam T (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 10:10pm

How exactly could Kimo have avoided Palmer's knees? Should DLs who are being blocked into the ground actively avoid the QB?

Oh, and what ever happened to that Roy Williams "horse-collar" rule? I saw similar tackles happen all the time and nothing was ever called on the defender.

by john (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 10:34pm

I wonder what everyone's thoughts are about offensive initiated helmet to helmet contact like when Nick Goings collided with Lofa Tatupu in the NFC Championship game. There was no flag and no mention of a potential penalty, but the hit looked kind of dirty and hurt both players. If Tatupu would have initiated the contact I imagine it would have cost Seattle 15. Why is there a double standard?

by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 10:45pm

Christ, what next? Are they going to outlaw tackling altogether? Why not just ban defense and let the offenses chase each other up and down the damn field for three hours. That, or we should follow LT's(?) advice and just put QBs in frilly pink tu-tus.

by Jose Anselmo (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:04pm

Re: #18 - I agree. Another example -- When a RB grabs, pushes, or puts their hand inside a defenders face mask it's called a "good stiff arm", but if a defender does the same thing it's a 15 yd penalty?

by DGL (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:04pm

#19: Originally, it was Jack Lambert who said QBs should wear dresses.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:11pm

Re: #17

If you think KvO was "blocked into" Palmer you're in another plane of reality. KvO reached out, wrapped his arm around Palmer's leg, and pushed his shoulder into Palmer's knee. It is not like KvO was knocked down and his momentum took him into Palmer's legs.

The only question is whether or not this was done with intent to injure. Since Palmer himself absolved KvO with respect to intent to injure, I'll accept Palmer's view.

But the "blocked into" excuse is a total load of hooey.

by SJM (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:30pm

Re: 20

The difference is that the ballcarrier is not trying to tackle or bring down the defensive player, only to resist him. When's the last time a defensive player was hurt by a stiff arm? But a facemask against a ballcarrier can be very violent and severe.

Also, illegal hands to the face can be called on any player who doesn't have the ball, whether offense or defense.

They should not make a new rule. If they do, they won't enforce it anyhow (see the horsecollar). What's the point?

by Ruben (not verified) :: Sun, 01/29/2006 - 11:35pm

Rules or laws made for one particular instance, observed on a national scale, are rarely (never?) a good idea...horsecollar tackles used to be viewed as a "jacked up" highlight; in Madden 2004, the addition of the Horsecollar Tackle animation was considered one of the "new" features! But when they happen to Golden Boys (TO with the HC, Palmer with the hit), only then are they rule-worthy.

Buncha hooey, if you ask me...

by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:15am

How about the Rasheed Wallace Rule? I know it's basketball, but I believe the NBA is starting to impose fines and/or suspensions if a player is assessed more than X number of Technical Fouls over the course of a season.

by Rex (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:21am

The David Patten rule: when you are knocked out, touching a fumbled ball, while at the same time your leg is touching the sideline now means the ball is in play rather than out of bounds.

Ron Borges ( a bitter NFL reporter/ Bledsoe Fan club President ) always brings up that rule as evidence that the Patriots are unworthy Champions. Why he has a job is really bothers me.

by Cody (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 7:18am


Yeah, and I think that a defensive player could push on an offensive players facemask, I just don't see why they would want to. Likewise if an offensive player grips and pulls a defensive players facemask it will be called. Not really a double standard, both can push the mask, but defenders seldom do, because its a very ineffective way to tackle someone.

by Stagger Lee (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 10:12am

How about the recent "Ty Law" rule?

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 10:48am

"Hard cases make bad law."

Though I wouldn't say the Kimo hit is much of a hard case. Clean play. Bad luck for Carson and Cincinnati. Just another day in the fog of war.

by MJB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:19am

RE: 27

Actually, the "hands to the face" penalty is equally called against Offensive and Defensive players. And if you do not think that it is an effective move for a pass rusher, watch Michael Strahan some time. And the effectiveness of this move might be in some doubt, but what it does do is push the Offensive Lineman's head back which could cause many things but the two most likely are that the Blocker loses sight of the pass rusher (giving him enough time to disengage from the block), of worst for the blocker cause him to lose balance (the saying is keep your head over your feet for a reason).

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:27am

re #10: this is the rule change that always amuses me. The league changed the rule regarding recovering a forward fumble after the "Holy roller" play by the Raiders versus San Diego. For the life of me I've never figured out why the play wasn't ruled an incomplete forward pass, as it should have been judged just like a shovel pass. Any old-timers have some info here?

And to answer an unrelated question: NO, KvO was not blocked into Carson Palmer. He came on the pass rush, engaged Eric Steinbach the guard and then cut inside him and dived to make the tackle. As he cut inside, Steinbach's body twisted to follow van Oelhoffen's movement, but there was no 'push' into the QB. Even as a Bengals fan I have no problem with the hit and accept it as one of those unlucky things that can happen in a contact sport, but enough of this ridiculous 'he got blocked onto the QB's knee' already!

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:29am


Running Backs routinely pull down on the facemask in a stiffarm, and dont get called for it. Its why people usually fall forward after getting stiff armed, not backward as they should.

23s point is valid.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:53am

I'd hate to see defenders limited any further in terms of the QB. I think QBs already get too much protection (especially near the sidelines).

Regarding the facemask question, I agree with the sentiment that there is a double standard. RBs get away with a lot more than anybody else on the field. And while the risk of injury may be fairly low, it still seems like an unfair advantage (like 'hands to the face').

by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:58am

I see no difference between a stiff arm by a RB, which I've never seen penalized, and the run of the mill illegal hands to the face penalty called on pass blocking offensive linemen. Even the purpose of the move is the same -- to prevent the defensive player from getting to the body of the offensive player, either to tackle him or shed him as the case may be.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:24pm

Speaking of head slaps, I saw Thomas 'The Hitman' Hearns on TV last night while watching the Detroit/Laker game. I could barely understand anything he said, his speech was so bad. What I did catch was that he was fighting again soon. He's 47.

Tommy, Tommy, say it ain't so.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 12:45pm

Deacon Jones was the one most famous for the headslap, but he wasn't the only HOF defensive lineman who caused it to be banned. There is clip sometimes shown by NFL Flms of Carl Eller going up against Forrest Gregg. Eller hits Gregg so hard upside the head that Gregg's chin strap pops, and his helmet goes sailing about fifteen feet through the air. To his credit, Gregg tries to stay with the block helmetless, but is off-balance, and Eller proceeds to drill Bart Starr. I think this is from '69, and the slap was banned soon after.

The Vikings were another team in the mid to late '70s which would have 13 guys in the defensive huddle, causing all sorts of playcalling problems for an offense.

by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 2:03pm

As an old Baltimore Colts fan, the Chandler Rule and Mel Renfro Rule are ones I particularly remember. See link for details of those and others.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 5:51pm

Hey MRH, that's a great link.

by Björn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 6:41pm

Fantastic link. But I just can't wrap my head around this one:

"THE BAUGH/MARSHALL RULE - Under NFL rules in effect in 1945, an attempt from a passer's end zone that struck the goal post resulted in a safety for the defensive team. It was probably the last remaining of the many rules that discouraged passing as the game was evolving from the pioneer days. In the sub-zero 1945 championship game between the Cleveland Rams and the Washington Redskins, Sammy Baugh, the best passer of the day -- and some will tell you any other day, attempted a first-down pass from behind his goal line. It was taken by one of the day's many wind gusts off of Lake Erie and smacked into a goal post. A safety resulted in the game's first score: Rams 2-Redskins 0. It wouldn't be the last score, but in the end it would prove to provide the margin of victory -- Rams 15-Redskins 14. So incensed was the ‘Skins' volatile owner George Preston Marshall that when the 1946 Rule Book was published the rules then stated that a similar play would have been a touchback, which it is to this day -- no safety, no points."

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 9:56pm

For that rule, remember that the goal posts used to be at the front of the end zone. So any time you were throwing out of the end zone, it would be possible to hit the goal posts, and apparently that used to be a safety. Now that they're behind the end zone, it would take one heck of a wind (or Aaron Brooksian throw) to hit the goal posts.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 10:43pm

Prior to 1974 the goal posts were located in the end zone instead of at the back of the end zone. Thus you might see some old highlights of players catching passes and slamming into them, or slamming into them period.

by Björn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/30/2006 - 11:25pm

Thanks, I didn't know that. I'm not surprised though, since the goalposts in the CFL are at the front of the endzone. But it makes more sense in the CFL, since the endzone is 20 yards deep.

There is nothing more grating than seeing a wide open slotback streaking in to catch a perfectly lobbed pass for 6 and seeing it DOINK off the goalpost. Thankfully I've only seen it happen twice to my team.