NFL's 'push rule' not as obscure a violation as you might think

In light of the call of the line-overload rule last Sunday, The Associated Press talked to NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino about some rules that fans may not know, including some player safety rules.

For instance, The AP explained the recent "push" call against the New England Patriots.

Where did this rule come from? Mainly the players' union.

When the NFL's competition committee met with the players in Indianapolis at the combine last February, the union brought it up. Washington's Will Montgomery was injured when four players were coming down on him, with two behind pushing two in front.

"It's interesting, because it is a new rule implemented for 2013," explained Dean Blandino, supervisor of NFL officials. "The genesis was we were looking at field goals and extra points and players in a vulnerable position. There's interlocked legs, a number of bodies, players pushing others into the formation. So the competition committee felt it needed to be addressed."

Also, did you know there's a "roughing-the-holder" penalty?

Yep, there are not just penalties for running into the kicker or roughing the kicker on placements, but also for hitting the holder.

And because nearly every team has, for years, used the punter as the holder, isn't that almost the same as roughing the punter?

And then there's the rule that gives the referee complete discretion to call, the "palpably unfair act."

Sounds like a trade agreement the federal government might pass, but it's really something a referee has within his power.

"We have a rule where if there was a palpably unfair act, whatever the referee feels is equitable becomes the call," Blandino said. "If a player comes running off the bench and makes a tackle, the ref can do whatever he feels is equitable in that situation.

"I can't remember the last time that was called."

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor