Here is a list of a few notable athletes whose skill prompted rules changes in the sports they played, much like Brittney Griner has with Phoenix in the WNBA:
• Mel Blount: The former Pittsburgh Steelers star was one of the best — and most physical — cornerbacks to play the game, a master at using bump-and-run tactics on receivers. Midway through his career, the NFL changed rules regarding pass coverage, preventing a defender from jamming a receiver 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. It became known as the Blount Rule.
• Martin Brodeur: Coming out of the lockout and with the 2005-06 season about to start, the NHL instituted a rule to limit a goaltender’s ability to play the puck. A trapezoid-shaped zone was created behind the net, outside of which the goalie couldn’t go to handle the puck. It was called the Brodeur Rule after the New Jersey Devils star, who was renowned for his puck-playing skills.
• Bob Gibson: In 1968 Gibson went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts and 268 strikeouts in the regular season for St. Louis, then recorded 17 K’s in Game 1 of the World Series that year. Yes, this was the year of the pitcher — seven pitchers recorded ERAs of less than 2.00. But when Major League Baseball decided to lower the pitching mound from 15 to 10 inches for the 1969 season, everybody called it the Gibson Rule.