Chop block (gridiron football)

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In gridiron football, a chop block is an attempt by an offensive player to cut block (block at the thigh level or lower) a defensive player who is being blocked above the waist by another offensive player. In the National Football League (NFL), a chop block is legal on running plays when (i) the blockers were aligned next to each other on the line of scrimmage, (ii) the blockers were lined up anywhere on the line and the flow of the play is towards the block or (iii) the cut blocker was aligned in the backfield and the chop block took place outside the original tight end position.[1] The cut blocker is said to "chop" the defender and usually engages simultaneously with or immediately after the high block. A "reverse chop" occurs when the high block comes immediately after the low block and the same rules apply.

In the NFL, college and high school football, the penalty for an illegal chop block is 15 yards.[2] They were first banned in the NCAA in 1980.[3] Chop blocks are illegal in the NFL on passing and kicking plays, as well on any play with attempted pass blocking or kick protection but which are actually running plays. It is also an illegal chop block if a player "lures" a defender by "pass-blocking posture" while another player chops him. The continued legality of chop blocking, as of all low blocks, is controversial. Partisans of the offensive line see it as a traditional run blocking technique, while those of the defensive line see it as unnecessarily dangerous.

In the Canadian Football League (CFL), chop blocking is defined as cut blocking a player already engaged, physically or otherwise, with another blocker. It is always illegal and carries a 15 yard penalty.[4]