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NFL considering prohibiting the chop block for 2016 season

The NFL has been on a mission to make professional football safer. Will its next move be to ban the chop block?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has been under intense pressure to make professional football safer. Recently, they have banned on-field maneuvers that can lead to injury and have attempted to introduce other safeguards, like independent concussion spotters.

Their latest idea is to eliminate the chop block. Chop blocks are defined as hits leveled by offensive players on a defensive player below the thigh when they are engaged above the waist. Already, the league has moved to ban the move in some circumstances. For example, this past season, running backs could not chop a defensive player while he was engaged with another offensive player outside the tackle box. While many rules are designed to protect offensive players, this particular modification was geared towards protecting the knees of defensive players.

When that rule change happened last year, defensive players clamored for a total ban on blocks to the knee. It seems the Competition Committee is on the cusp of doing just that. The proposed rule change would eliminate potentially-ACL-destroying hits that many players dread more than a hit to the head.

If you aren't familiar with the chop block, check out this video of Brian Cushing getting leveled during a game against the Jets in 2012.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians famously criticized a lure chop block in 2014, calling it one of the dirtiest plays he had ever seen in the NFL. In 2013, Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro generated some negative buzz over a chop block that missed his target and took out teammate Maurkice Pouncey.

While the rule change could reduce the number of debilitating, season-ending knee injuries, some have complained the recent push to make football safer has made the game akin to flag football.

Though some have criticized the proposal, it is one of few recent safety rules that benefits players on the defensive side of the ball. And, while it could make the game a bit less aggressive, most fans would agree that the game is way less interesting when their favorite star players are out with severe injuries.