The Tuck Rule

CBS Sports broke the news today that the NFL’s controversial Tuck Rule will officially be abolished starting in the 2013-2014 NFL season. The potential removal of The Tuck Rule – best known for the role it played in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, when it resulted in referees ruling a fumble by quarterback Tom Brady as an incomplete pass instead; the Patriots would go on to win that game and eventually advance to and win the Super Bowl that year, as well – was one of the issues slated to be voted on at today’s winter NFL owners meeting. Indeed, the motion to get rid of The Tuck Rule was passed by a vote of 29-1, with the owners of the Patriots and Washington Redskins abstaining from voting; the only vote in favor of keeping The Tuck Rule came from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Tuck Rule has been very much despised by many a football fan – Raiders fans, especially – and not many people will be sad to see it go. Also approved at the owners’ meeting today, however, was an amendment to the coaches’ challenges that will allow referees to still review a play following a bad challenge; and, most importantly, labeling of “leading-with-the-crown-of-your-helmet” as a foul starting this upcoming season. This penalty was passed with a vote of 31-1, with the Cincinnati Bengals as the sole dissenting vote. According to this rule, both offensive players who lead with their tops of their helmets when colliding with a defensive player will be flagged and assessed a 15-year-yard penalty. Although some believe that this rule is important for player safety (ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi stated that the rule “eliminates the use of the helmet as a weapon”), offensive players seem to think otherwise and numerous former running backs have already spoken out against this new penalty, such as Emmett Smith and Marshall Faulk. Remember last year when Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson steamrolled Kurt Coleman? Well, that monster hit under this new rule, would have resulted in Richardson being penalized.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how NFL officials deal with and implement these rule changes heading into this upcoming NFL season. But at the least, they signal that, though football is still a contact sport, the nature of the game itself may be changing.