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Quarterback Sneak


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#1 Moran

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 09:45 AM

Does anyone know the history of the quarterback sneak. Information online indicates the play dates back to the 1912 Yale-Harvard game, when Yale QB Graham Winklebaum used it. Could anyone confirm this or add any information?

#2 Mark L. Ford

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 06:02 PM

Does anyone know the history of the quarterback sneak. Information online indicates the play dates back to the 1912 Yale-Harvard game, when Yale QB Graham Winklebaum used it. Could anyone confirm this or add any information?


That's an intriguing question; it appears that it wasn't called that until 1920. Still, I don't think that there was ever anything in the rules that prohibited a quarterback from running with the ball rather than handing it off, although forward passing wasn't allowed for more than 40 years. I couldn't find anything on a Graham Winklebaum. So far as I've found, Yale's quarterback in 1912 was Nate Wheeler.

#3 rhickok1109

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 02:26 PM

That's an intriguing question; it appears that it wasn't called that until 1920. Still, I don't think that there was ever anything in the rules that prohibited a quarterback from running with the ball rather than handing it off, although forward passing wasn't allowed for more than 40 years. I couldn't find anything on a Graham Winklebaum. So far as I've found, Yale's quarterback in 1912 was Nate Wheeler.

For some years there was a rule that the player who received the snap from center couldn't run with the ball until it had been touched by another player. ATM, I can't give you the exact years. The rule began in the 19th century and may have extended into the 20th century. I'll have to do some digging to find out exactly when it was in effect.

The quarterback wasn't specifically mentioned, but he was usually the player who took the snap, as he is today.

#4 Wildcats Unite

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 03:50 PM

Does anyone know the history of the quarterback sneak. Information online indicates the play dates back to the 1912 Yale-Harvard game, when Yale QB Graham Winklebaum used it. Could anyone confirm this or add any information?


College FB researchers determined yesterday that there was no Winklebaum in that particular Yale-Harvard game, and in fact nobody could confirm a Winklebaum played for Yale at all. One of the prominent places displaying this information is Wikipedia, where it appears without a source. Researchers also found reference to "quarterback sneak" dating to the early 1900s, including a mention in 1904. Of course, the genesis of the strategy is unknown, even if the term itself originated near the turn of the century.

#5 Moran

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:17 PM

For some years there was a rule that the player who received the snap from center couldn't run with the ball until it had been touched by another player. ATM, I can't give you the exact years. The rule began in the 19th century and may have extended into the 20th century. I'll have to do some digging to find out exactly when it was in effect.

The quarterback wasn't specifically mentioned, but he was usually the player who took the snap, as he is today.


Apparently an article has surfaced mentioning a QB sneak in 1904 - following up on changes in the rules I checked the Spalding Guides. In 1890 it has Rule 30 which says
The man who first receives the ball when snapped back from a down, or thrown back from a fair, shall not carry the ball forward under any circumstances whatever.

In 1900 there is 16e
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper:
The man who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he has regained it back, after it has been passed to and has touched another player.

1902 has the same rule. I donít have a copy of 1903 or 1904, but if there is a recorded QB sneak in 1904 there was no doubt a change in the rules at that time.

Edited to add: Now I've had a chance to look at rules from 1907 - 1910 and discovered that it is unlikely there was a QB sneak as we know it in 1904 - here's how the rule evolved

SPALDING'S OFFICIAL FOOT BALL GUIDE.

1906 RULE 10.
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall havecrossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. penalty-Loss of is 15 yards

1907 and 1908 Rule XV. Section 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall have crossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. PENALTY (Referee) Loss of 15 yards.

Alterations in Rules for 1910
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back may carry it across the line of scrimmage at any point.

1910 Rule XV SECTION 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
Any player of the side which puts the ball in play, except either of the men standing on the line of scrimmage on each side of the snapper-back who first receives the ball when it is put in play, may carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage.

#6 rhickok1109

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:08 PM

Apparently an article has surfaced mentioning a QB sneak in 1904 - following up on changes in the rules I checked the Spalding Guides. In 1890 it has Rule 30 which says
The man who first receives the ball when snapped back from a down, or thrown back from a fair, shall not carry the ball forward under any circumstances whatever.

In 1900 there is 16e
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper:
The man who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he has regained it back, after it has been passed to and has touched another player.

1902 has the same rule. I donít have a copy of 1903 or 1904, but if there is a recorded QB sneak in 1904 there was no doubt a change in the rules at that time.

Edited to add: Now I've had a chance to look at rules from 1907 - 1910 and discovered that it is unlikely there was a QB sneak as we know it in 1904 - here's how the rule evolved

SPALDING'S OFFICIAL FOOT BALL GUIDE.

1906 RULE 10.
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall havecrossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. penalty-Loss of is 15 yards

1907 and 1908 Rule XV. Section 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall have crossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. PENALTY (Referee) Loss of 15 yards.

Alterations in Rules for 1910
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back may carry it across the line of scrimmage at any point.

1910 Rule XV SECTION 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
Any player of the side which puts the ball in play, except either of the men standing on the line of scrimmage on each side of the snapper-back who first receives the ball when it is put in play, may carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage.

Great research, Moran. Thanks for posting these details :)

#7 Wildcats Unite

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 01:16 PM

Apparently an article has surfaced mentioning a QB sneak in 1904 - following up on changes in the rules I checked the Spalding Guides. In 1890 it has Rule 30 which says
The man who first receives the ball when snapped back from a down, or thrown back from a fair, shall not carry the ball forward under any circumstances whatever.

In 1900 there is 16e
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper:
The man who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he has regained it back, after it has been passed to and has touched another player.

1902 has the same rule. I don’t have a copy of 1903 or 1904, but if there is a recorded QB sneak in 1904 there was no doubt a change in the rules at that time.

Edited to add: Now I've had a chance to look at rules from 1907 - 1910 and discovered that it is unlikely there was a QB sneak as we know it in 1904 - here's how the rule evolved

SPALDING'S OFFICIAL FOOT BALL GUIDE.

1906 RULE 10.
Advance of ball by player first receiving it from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall havecrossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. penalty-Loss of is 15 yards

1907 and 1908 Rule XV. Section 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back shall not carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage unless he shall have regained it after having delivered it wholly out of his possession to another player, or unless he shall have crossed the line of scrimmage at least 5 yards outside of the point where the ball was snapped. PENALTY (Referee) Loss of 15 yards.

Alterations in Rules for 1910
The player who first receives the ball when it is snapped back may carry it across the line of scrimmage at any point.

1910 Rule XV SECTION 4.
Player first receiving ball from snapper-back
Any player of the side which puts the ball in play, except either of the men standing on the line of scrimmage on each side of the snapper-back who first receives the ball when it is put in play, may carry the ball forward beyond the line of scrimmage.


The quarterback was prohibited from advancing the ball from 1880 to 1903 when the rule book changed (Moran was missing the '03 book). In 1903, the quarterback could run the ball, but he had to take it 5 yards outside of where the ball was put in play (i.e., he had to make end runs; forward plunges were not allowed). Special vertical lines were drawn on the field to enforce this 5-yard restriction. Then in 1910, the rules were changed again (as detailed above by Moran), at which time the extra lines on the field were removed as well.

#8 Bob Gill

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:26 PM

>The quarterback was prohibited from advancing the ball from 1880 to 1903 when the rule book changed (Moran was missing the '03 book). In 1903, the quarterback could run the ball, but he had to take it 5 yards outside of where the ball was put in play (i.e., he had to make end runs; forward plunges were not allowed). Special vertical lines were drawn on the field to enforce this 5-yard restriction. Then in 1910, the rules were changed again (as detailed above by Moran), at which time the extra lines on the field were removed as well.


That's interesting about the vertical lines. I've seen photos of them, and I always thought they were put on the field when passing became legal in 1906, because they had some similar rules about passes having to be thrown five yards outside the line or whatever it was. This sounds like the lines were already there for this other weird rule, so they just took advantage of them when they wanted to restrict the use of passing -- that is, to make it legal but not that easy anwyay.