Union wants all blocks above the knees

Updated: November 14, 2004, 1:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw and NFL football operations president Art Shell will push the league's competition committee to outlaw cut blocks, Upshaw told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

"Even as offensive linemen, we want the cut block out of the league," said Upshaw, who will push that all blocks must be above the knees.

Cut blocks have been a flashpoint for debate this season. Last month, Broncos lineman George Foster's cut block on Bengals defensive end Tony Williams left Williams with a broken and dislocated ankle that has ended his season. Williams is expected to take six months to recover.

The Broncos came under withering criticism for the block, which is considered legal under NFL rules.

"It was unnecessary," Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton said at the time. "They're coached to do it. I blame Mike Shanahan."

Technically, the cut block -- a block below an opponent's waist -- was legal because Foster's helmet was in front of Williams at contact. But it was vicious, too, in part because Williams didn't see it coming. It also looked unnecessary given that the play was moving away from the spot where the block was made.

Like Williams, Jacksonville's Paul Spicer also was lost for the season after being cut-blocked by a Broncos lineman. Since 2001, five players have been injured by cut blocks.

At the owners' meetings last month in Michigan, Falcons general manager Rich McKay acknowledged that the issue would come under scrutiny from the competition committee.

McKay, co-chairman of the committee, said he received many phone calls from coaches and team officials about the block that sidelined Williams.

"I'm sure, based on what has recently transpired, [the competition committee] will be talking about it," McKay said. "There will be discussions about 'low blocks,' although the topic comes up every year. But this will again put some more light on the issue."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.