The tuck rule has been eliminated by NFL owners at winter meetings, though the rule change comes about 11 years too late for the Oakland Raiders.
The tuck rule was made famous by the 2001 AFC Championship game, in which it appeared the Raiders’ Charles Woodson forced what appeared to be a fumble that would have iced the game. But officials said the play fell under the tuck rule, and what appeared to be a fumble was really a failed forward pass.
On the play, Tom Brady pump-faked and brought the ball back to his body as he was hit. The hit would now be ruled a fumble.
The tuck rule was seen as one of the most confusing and difficult to interpret, and critics said it still wasn’t applied consistently even after Brady’s famous play.
Only one team voted against eliminating the tuck rule, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The New England Patriots and Washington Redskins abstained from the rules vote.
“We didn’t think it was necessary to make that change,” Steelers president Art Rooney said. “We were happy with the way it’s been called.”
Eliminating the tuck rule wasn’t the only order of business at winter meetings. NFL owners also voted on other rule changes to be implemented in 2013. They eliminated a penalty for a coach throwing a challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed, and also introduced a “crown-of-the-helmet” rule.
This rule is part of the NFL’s fight against head injuries, and would penalize a running back 15 yards for using the crown of the helmet to initiate contact with a defender. The rule only pertains to tackle attempts made outside the tackle box, and incidental contact is not deemed a foul.
The Oakland Raiders seemed especially pleased with the rule change. After the voting was finalized, the team sent out a three-word tweet: “Adios, Tuck Rule.”