‘Fumblerooski’ not permitted

At 6 feet 5 inches and 270 pounds, Covington Catholic senior Daniel Heath will most definitely be a force on the field for the football Colonels come August. But don’t expect his name in the box score, or to see a hilarious “lineman” end zone celebration from Heath or any of his fellow offensive linemen for that matter this season.

Apparently it was a slow month on the itinerary for the National Federation of State High School Associations, the administrative organization out of Indianapolis that creates and enforces the rules and regulations for high school athletics and other education-based interscholastic activities.

And because this group seemingly had nothing better to do over the past month or so, they have made the decision to ban the “fumblerooski” play from high school football playbooks around the country, making the sequence illegal during sanctioned games.

To refresh your memory, a successful fumblerooski is executed when the quarterback takes the football after the snap and places it on the ground behind the center – basically an intentional fumble.

Then, as the 10 other players on the field run a “play” toward one direction, an offensive guard picks up the ball and runs the other, faking out the defense and hopefully gaining a good amount of yards or possibly even scoring a touchdown.

You more than likely remember a version of this play from 1994, when Rick Moranis’s Little Giants used the “annexation of Puerto Rico” to defeat Al Bundy’s Urbana Cowboys to win the Pee Wee football game.

In terms of national notoriety, the fumblerooski’s most recent use was when the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers ran the play against the University of Miami Hurricanes during the Orange Bowl in 1984.

Banned by the NFL in the 1960s, the fumblerooski was put out of commission by the NCAA in 1993.

Since that time, however, many high school coaches around the country have utilized the fun play in order to produce a laugh or to give a lineman who would normally not be an offensive option the chance to run with the ball or to even score.

Overall, the fumblerooski is a harmless trick play that is neat to watch when run effectively.

Jerry Diehl, assistant director for the NFSHSA and company, sees things differently, however. Diehl said that the seldom-run play is a burden for officials and that taking the Fumblerooski away will “eliminate confusion from a ballgame.”

Eliminate confusion?

Isn’t that the premise of a football playbook, to disrupt the defensive scheme in order to gain yardage and score points? Who does this guy think he is?

I think it’s appalling when a pencil-pushing suit who has more than likely never stepped foot between the white lines of a football field is given such power, because then all that happens is that guys like Diehl get bored and decide to change rules or policies for the “betterment of the game.”


The only negative outcome the fumblerooski has ever produced is taking the wind out of a 300-pound offensive tackle who isn’t used to sprinting 40 yards on the football field.

The intention of the play is 100 percent innocent and its removal is embarrassing. Aren’t there more crucial areas of high school football that could use attention?

If this National Federation of Tight Wads has so much time on its hands, why not make the trip to Lexington, Ky., and help the KHSAA resolve the ongoing public-private saga?

It may have been the quarterbacks whose “fumbling” led to this decision, but if a yellow flag is to be thrown, it needs to be in the direction of the NFSHSA – they’re the ones who have truly dropped the ball in this instance.