A crackback block in football occurs when an offensive player lined up outside the formation runs back towards the ball and blocks and opponent. The offensive player blocks the opponent towards to position of where the ball was snapped.
Oftentimes crackback blocks result in massive hits this is because the defensive player often does not see these hits coming. It is also common that the players are running in opposite directions.
Is A Crackback Block Legal?
Crackback blocks are legal in the NFL so long as you hit the player between the shoulders and the waist. If you happen to hit a player in the head or below the waist you will be given an illegal crackback block penalty. You also must be sure to be heading towards the opponent’s goal line when you make the hit.
A new rule put in place in 2019 stated that NFL players cannot be running towards or parallel to their own goal while making a block with their head elbow or shoulder. This would be considered an illegal blindside block.
This is slightly different from a crackback block but it follows the same idea. A blindside block typically happens when players are hit by another player heading in the opposite direction. These blocks are often seen on kick returns and punt returns.
Though if a player does not advance towards the opponent’s goal line on a crack block then that too will be considered a blindside block.
An illegal crackblock penalty is a total of fifteen yards. Meaning you will move fifteen yards back from the spot of the penalty and repeat the down. An illegal crackback block is also a personal foul. This means if you pick up this foul in conjunction with another personal foul you will be removed from the game.
When did crackback blocks become illegal?
It was all the way back in the 1970’s when some forms of crackbacks blocks were deemed illegal. At this point the rule stated that when completing a crack block you were not able to tackle the player below the waist.
The addition to the rules meant that crackback blocks require the blocking player to be travelling towards the opponent’s goal line was only put into place in 2019.
Example Of A Crackback Block
To get a better understanding of what a crack block looks like we are going to explain it through some examples.
Slot Receiver Crack Block On A Linebacker
The ball is snapped and the quarterback tosses the ball to a running back as he runs outside the left tackle.
At this point, the slot receiver lined up left of the formation runs inwards towards the formation to block a linebacker
As you likely know a slot receiver lines up in the slot. This area of the field is separated from the formation. It allows the receiver a chance to catch the linebacker with an unexpected block.
The receiver then blocks the linebacker by hitting him in the chest. The receiver was heading towards the opponent’s goal line when he made impact to the chest area. This makes this a legal crack block.
Guard Crackback Blocks Defender To Protect Quarterback
The quarterback snaps the ball and drops back into the pocket. As it begins to collapse he rolls right until he is outside the pocket. As a defender attempts to tackle him he cuts back to the left and begins running towards the left sideline.
At this point the defender would be chasing the quarterback across the field. The guards who are still in the pocket decide to block the defender when he comes back through the pocket.
The guard steps towards his goal line and blows up the defender as he does not see the hit coming.
In this situation, the crackback block would be called illegal. This is due to the guard travelling towards his own goal line as he makes contact. Players are not expecting contact coming from that direction. This presents a health risk and is why the NFL has made a block like this illegal.