As stated in the ESPN Uncyclopedia, “No sport is better known for insinuating players into its official regulations than the NFL.” There are a handful of rules in the NFL that are “unofficially named” for players that were notorious violators of a certain infraction.
One of the most recent and infamous NFL players to have a rule “unofficially” named after him is Dallas Cowboys Safety Roy Williams. Williams is notorious for his “horse-collar tackles.”
This rule was made in 2005, at the NFL owners meetings according to NFL.com. NFL.com defines the rule as, “It is illegal to grab the inside collar of the shoulder pads to tackle a runner.”
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According to an article by Todd Archer in the Dallas Morning News from 2004, in one season (2004), Safety Roy Williams injured four separate players, using his “horse-collar” tackle.
James Calico, Tennessee Titans (sprained knee), Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (sprained ankle), Musa Smith, Baltimore Ravens (compound fracture) and Terrell Owens, Philadelphia Eagles (sprained ankle, fractured tibia), were all victims of Williams’ horse collar tackles.
Violation of the “Roy Williams rule” now results in a check made out to NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell and a possible suspension.
Now, we’ve all seen that one scene in the movie “Little Giants” where wide receiver Rashad “Hot Hands” Hanon uses “stick-um” on his hands to make catching the ball easier during the big game. (If you haven’t seen this movie, I have no words for you.) As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Stickum is a “gooey substance that causes adhesion.”
Some may have thought that this scene in “Little Giants” was simply placed in the movie for comic value, with no actual history behind the use of “stick-um” for receivers or other football players. But that group of people would be wrong.
There’s an actual rule in the NFL that says that no player can use any substance on their hands to assist them in making catches. Of course, this rule would never have been made if a player had not tried to use Stickum in an NFL game.
I don’t think the commissioner of the NFL made this rule specifically because of the movie “Little Giants.”
This rule is unofficially named the “Lester Hayes rule.”
According to NFL.com, Lester Hayes was a defensive back that played for the Oakland Raiders for his entire nine-year career. An article on ESPN.com, written by Jeffri Chadiha in 2007 said, “Hayes made his name with the stuff (stickum). He rubbed it on his hands, wrists and forearms, slathering it as generously as a beachcomber applies sunscreen on a South Florida summer day.”
The same article on ESPN.com said the substance was banned in the NFL following the 1980 season and “cited Hayes as a major reason for the rule.”
Following the banishment of Stickum, Lester Hayes said, “if I had been born in 1985 instead of 1955, everything would’ve been different. I would’ve been one of those defensive backs you see chasing receivers every Sunday on ‘SportsCenter.’ I have no question about that.”
Another one of the infamous rules unofficially named after an NFL player was the “Bubba Smith rule.” Bubba Smith is a Hall-of-Fame defensive lineman that was drafted as the number one pick for the Baltimore Colts (now Baltimore Ravens) in 1967, following four years at Michigan State.
According to writer Jim Campbell, the “Bubba Smith rule” was enacted following the 1972 season. Campbell said the rule was put in place following a severe injury to Bubba Smith. The rule replaced the sharp metal point that had been placed at the bottom of first down markers with a rubber cap. Campbell said that following an interception thrown by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Bubba Smith turned to block for his teammate who had intercepted the ball. When Smith reached the sidelines, he became entangled in the first down marker chains.
Because the markers had a metal point at the bottom of them, they were stuck firmly into the ground, almost impossible to remove without excessive force. Smith tripped to the ground, sustaining an injury.
Campbell said that this injury forever change Bubba Smith’s career. Although the “Bubba Smith rule” was enacted far too late to save Smith’s career, Campbell said that this rule may have very well saved many other NFL players from the same fate Smith suffered at the hands of the first down markers.
One of the most prolific running backs to ever play the game, the Dallas Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith, has more than one thing officially named after him, I’m sure. But one of the things he has “unofficially” named after him is a rule in the NFL rulebook. The “Emmitt Smith rule” was enacted following the 1996 NFL season, according to writer Jim Campbell.
In an article on BleacherReport.com, written by Michael Dunbar, the “Emmitt Smith rule” prohibits any NFL player from removing his helmet during an NFL game, especially in order to celebrate a touchdown.
Jim Campbell said, “No one refined this bit of hot-dogging better than the Cowboys’ workhorse running back. By 1996, the NFL had seen all it needed to see of this. Starting in 1997, it was a 15-yard penalty for a player to be hatless anywhere, anytime.”
Smith was notorious for removing his helmet following one of his many touchdowns in the NFL. Some believe Smith removed his helmet in an attempt to rile up or taunt the crowd.
Most of these rules put in place by the NFL commissioners and NFL owners helped make the game safer for athletes. Yet I think some of these rules were created simply to tone down the egos of professional football players. Little did past commissioners and owners know, stupid rules can’t tone down the Atlantic ocean-sized egos of professional athletes. I mean, if I were that talented, I would most definitely remove my helmet following a touchdown and tell the world how awesome I am.
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