A Brief Overview: Pancakes

No, not this (even though I do want some right now):

I’m talking about this kind of a pancake:

What is a “Pancake Block”?

A Pancake Block has only been around for a few years. Pancakes are synonymous with offensive linemen and not because of the amount they can stuff in their mouth during breakfast. “Pancake block” is a term that describes when an offensive lineman knocks a defender flat on his back, similar to the picture above. It is an official form of blocking.

Pancakes should not be confused with “De-Cleating”, which is blocking someone so hard that you knock them out of their shoes.

History Behind the Pancake

There is some confusion when it comes to who actually created the term and who made it popular. Rivals.com claims that Pittsburgh publicists actually coined the term first for Bill Fralic:

Bill Fralic ranks 19th among offensive linemen with a little more than 1 percent of the vote despite finishing in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy balloting twice (eighth in 1983 and sixth in 1984). Pittsburgh publicists coined the term “pancake block” to provide a statistical measure to Fralic’s dominant performances.

But, it appears that the pancake block did not reach a higher status until the arrival of Orlando Pace at Ohio State (via Wikipedia):

He was so dominant that the term pancake block – referring to when an offensive lineman knocks a defender on their back – gained popularity due to his play. In fact, the Ohio State Athletic Department distributed Orlando Pace pancake magnets as a promotion for his Heisman Trophy run. Pace did not allow a sack in his last two years at Ohio State. In one game against Illinois, Pace shut down defensive end Simeon Rice and pancaked him ten times.

There is some debate as to who actually created the term first, but this story seems to make the most sense. As for now, enjoy this YouTube search of “Andre Smith” and “Pancake”.

As for those of you who are lost:

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One Response to “A Brief Overview: Pancakes”

  1. Explaining those tasty blocks « ON SPORTS Says:

    […] focuses on an aspect of football in the Daily Nebraskan that is not familiar to all fans – the pancake block (as opposed to cockroach and rodeo blocks.) The pancake is essentially a block where the opponent […]


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