Mindful of Violence, the N.F.L. Rules Out the Wedge Formation

Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the N.F.L., some of the time as a wedge buster, the no-sane-person-need-apply job designed to break up one of football’s most iconic formations, the 900-pound snowplow of linemen, with their arms linked or hands joined, designed to block for a kick returner.
Bowen, now a writer for National Football Post, was on his way to a neurologist a few weeks ago, in part because of all the times he lowered his head and smashed into the wedge — sometimes not bothering to tell trainers about the blows he took. Most of Bowen’s injuries came when he played on the kick unit: an anterior cruciate ligament torn here, a foot broken there.