Posted March 20, 2013

NFL passes crown of helmet rule, abolishes ‘Tuck Rule’

NFL
The NFL passes several rules changes, including the  elimination of the Tuck Rule. (Matt Campbell/Getty Images)

The NFL passed several rules changes during its annual meetings, including the elimination of the Tuck Rule. (Matt Campbell/Getty Images)

The NFL passed two major rules changes Wednesday during the NFL Annual Meetings in Phoenix that will take effect this upcoming season.

The first rule would penalize a player who makes or initiates contact with the crown of his helmet outside of the tackle box, addressing health concerns regarding possible neck damage from such contact. The measure passed by an owners vote of 31-1, but has been criticized by many running backs, including Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk.

“There was a lot of discussion,” Steelers President Art Rooney said of the helmet crown rule, “but the way it was presented was the most effective way to address it.”

Another rule change is abolishing the infamous tuck rule. Now, if a quarterback loses control of the ball before he has fully protected it after opting not to throw, it is a fumble.

The elimination of the tuck rule passed on a 29-1 vote, with the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins abstaining, and the Pittsburgh Steelers voting to keep it. “We didn’t think it was necessary to make that change,” Rooney said. “We were happy with the way it’s been called.”

The tuck rule became famous in the 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and the Patriots. Late in the fourth quarter with New England trailing by three, Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when Brady ceased his throwing motion and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Raiders. The call was reversed on replay under the tuck rule, and the Patriots went on to win the game 16-13 in overtime.

[BURKE: WHAT'S IN, OUT FOR NFL RULES CHANGES]

Goodell was eager to get approved the competition committee’s proposal to outlaw use of the crown of the helmet by ball carriers, and there was talk the vote would be tabled until May if the rule change didn’t have enough support.

But after watching videos of the play that clearly showed the differences in legal and illegal moves by ball carriers, the owners voted yes. The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.

“It’ll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “One of the questions I ask a lot is who gains from this, offense or defense? And it’s a toss-up as to which side of the ball has the advantage on this rule, if any. The main thing is it’s pro-health and safety, and that’s the big thing.”

The owners discussed simply using fines on ball carriers to eliminate the tactic, but instead voted to make the rule change.

“Jim Brown never lowered his head,” Rooney said with a smile. “It can be done.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


21 comments
TheStub
TheStub

As a Patriots Fan, I am glad to see the rule gone.  People who think it was the wrong call, get over yourselves.  There is a difference between a good call and a good rule.  Good call, it was.  Good rule it was not.

GregBetchart
GregBetchart

They need to have a rule concerning the prohibition of commissioners from destroying videotape of teams cheating as well.

KidHorn
KidHorn

The owners voted down the tuck rule 29-1. If they were so opposed to it, why wasn't it removed years ago?

RJC
RJC

Tuck rule... perhaps the worst rule in the history of the NFL... it never made sense to me that a player attempting to retain the ball instead of throwing it would not be considered fumbling if they dropped the ball.  As a Raider fan I loathed it but as a football fan it was a big WTF?The helmet contact rule is too subjective... if a guy lowers his shoulder there will be contact somewhat with helmet but there's a different between co-incidental contact and using the crown of your helmet as a weapon or battering ram. A RB has to lean forward and try to drive thru a tackler or he'll end up on his rear. 

John4
John4

The Tom Brady "it was a tuck", so it's not a fumble continue as the worst call in sports history.  Clearly, the officials or the NFL did not want the Raiders to win, so they botched a ruling as much as possible.  A toddler could tell it was a fumble.   

(I'm not even a Raiders' fan, but, please, that call was incorrect, pitiful and shameful for the NFL).

 

Wisconsin Death Trap - what is your issue with Intentional Grounding?  The QB should have to be throwing the ball to somebody.    

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Tuck rule out is LONG over due, but a running back leading with his head and shoulders has been football since it's creation....WTF? Hey #$%&'s, try getting rid of the "Intentional grounding rule" first, might do YOU some good.

2015MichaelJenkins
2015MichaelJenkins

@soul i believe in the raiders enough that i think they would have beat the rams

 

6marK6
6marK6

People that have had nothing to do with the success of the NFL and its history are now making rules that pertain to the NFL. Idiots! As for the "tuck rule," why was that ever created in the first place? Stupid rule that cost Oakland a Super Bowl.

donald5
donald5

Kids are going to see NFL film compilations of the best plays/players from the past and all they are going to say is "Shouldn't that have been a penalty?"

TheStub
TheStub

 @John4

 

It was not the worst call.  It was the worst rule.  As a call, it was the right call based on the rules.  Unfortunate for the Raiders.  It had nothing to do with the officials not wanting the Raiders to win.  The rule had been in the books for a long time. 

keithb
keithb

 @6marK6 You are so right. The owners have no business in amending the NFL to how they see fit. It's not like they've invested anything (rolls eyes).

Soul
Soul

@6marK6 it cost them an afc championship, there's no guarantee they would have beat the rams.

djm4672
djm4672

 @donald5 This is pretty much what has happened to hockey.  Watch a top ten hits from the 1990s.  It's good game to guess how many suspended games each hit would be in today's game.

John4
John4

 @TheStub I respectfully recommend you review the play a few times and then read the rule, and determine to see if they had anything to do with each other.   They did not, in my opinion.  The Tom Brady "tuck" was clearly a fumble no matter some obscure rule in the book states.  It was not a tuck, it was a fumble.  Worst call ever, and also, possibly, worst rule ever.   

scBlais
scBlais

 @keithb  @6marK6 Let's not forget they are on the line from future law-suites from players (the ones who don't want the rules changed) about brain damage caused by the league and it's owners for failing to protect them.

RobertYoung
RobertYoung

 @AmyR.Eldred  I have to agree with Amy on this one ! I think I speak for all RAIDER fans when I tell the rules committee "Tuck You " !