NFL eliminates Tuck Rule
PHOENIX — The NFL's infamous tuck rule might have cost the Steelers a Super Bowl, but they still voted Wednesday to keep it in place.
They were the only team that did.
Unfortunately for the Oakland Raiders, the move came 11 years too late.
The modification means that if a quarterback is bringing the ball back to his body, such as on a pump fake — rather than attempting to deliver a pass — and drops the ball, it will be ruled a fumble rather than an incomplete pass. The rule, seldom known at the time, was a key to the Patriots beating the Raiders in a playoff game during quarterback Tom Brady's 2001 rookie season.
Brady appeared to have fumbled on a hit by Charles Woodson, but the controversial play was ruled to be an incompletion. The Patriots later completed a game-winning field-goal drive.
The Patriots upset the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh a week later then won the first of their three Super Bowls with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach.
The tuck rule elimination passed by a 29-1 vote with the Patriots and Redskins abstaining.
“I just didn't think it was necessary to make the change. We were satisfied that the rule was being officiated the right way and why change something that's not broken as far as we're concerned,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said. “(But) I guess everybody thinks it's a good change.”
The league Wednesday also prohibited running backs and defensive players from using the crown of the helmet to initiate contact in the open field. Some running backs have used their head as a weapon to pile-drive forward and gain extra yardage. However, the rule change does not prohibit such contact by a running back using his face mask.
“I think the focus is going to be on the more extreme hits and the more extreme plays,” Rooney said. “That's our understanding, and obviously we won't know until they start to enforce the rule. I think the focus really is on some of the video they showed us that really was a pretty obvious kind of a play. I think, at least initially, it will be focused on really the obvious crown-of-the-helmet-type hits.”
The rule passed after it appeared Tuesday it might be held up for further discussion at meetings this spring.
“I think there is legitimate concern about how it's going to be officiated and how it's going to be taught,” Rooney said. “But somebody said (Tuesday) night that Jim Brown never lowered his head when he was a runner, so it can certainly be done. … Jim Brown, when he needed to run over somebody, he lowered his shoulder. He didn't lower his head. That's what we have to teach these guys to do.”
The helmet rule passed, 31-1. The Bengals opposed.
Rooney said clubs agreed that the helmet issue needed to be addressed. Determining the best way to do it took time.
“It really was a question of what was the right way to address this issue. There were a lot of discussions about different ways to do it,” Rooney said. “Really, there was a lot of concern on the coaches' part in terms of putting the burden on the officials to take it out of the game. There was a lot of discussion about maybe we should just try to teach this out of the game and put it in the coaches' hands. So there was some support for that initially, but as they say in the end, I think everybody decided this was the right way to do it.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stakes high as ex-Saints receiver Moore faces his former team
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Steelers notebook: Defense tasked with stopping Graham
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Steelers notebook: Linebackers on the spot against Saints offense
- Polamalu, Taylor among Steelers starters returning for Sunday’s game vs. Saints
- Steelers’ lookahead: New Orleans Saints
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run