NFL proposes elimination of Tuck Rule

Mar. 14, 2013

One of the most controversial rules in recent NFL history may go by the wayside.

Teams will vote at next week’s annual meetings to abolish the so-called “Tuck Rule.”

It is one of six proposed rule changes announced by the league’s competition committee during a conference call today.

Under the proposal, a quarterback who loses the ball while attempting to bring it back to his body will be charged with a fumble. The current rule was made famous by play during the 2001 playoffs when then-Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and caused a fumble that the Raiders recovered. However, the officials determined Brady’s arm was going forward, making it an incompletion rather than a fumble.

“It’s a fumble if a player loses possession after he attempts to bring the ball back to his body,” St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of the proposed change.

The Packers had a situation against Jacksonville last season in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers thought the tuck rule would save him after he fumbled late in the first half. However, it was ruled a fumble even though Rodgers insisted he was trying to the bring the ball back to his body.

Fisher, a long-time competition committee member, said it became easier to eliminate the tuck rule now that all turnover players are automatically reviewed.

Proposals need to be approved by 24 of the league’s 32 teams in order to pass. Voting will take place at next week’s NFL annual meeting in Phoenix.

Here are the other proposes rule and by-law changes:


* A play would still be reviewed even if a coach throws the red challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed, such as a turnover or scoring play. Several coaches struggled with this last season, most famously Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who tried to challenge a scoring play. Because he did so before the review was initiated, he not only was penalized 15 yards for unsportsman-like conduct but it wiped out the review, allowing Houston’s touchdown to stand even though it should not have. The Texans won in overtime.

* Restrict field goal/PAT rush teams from overloading the line of scrimmage and not allowing rush players to push teammates through the gap. It’s a player-safety proposal.

* Allow tight ends/H-backs to wear numbers between 40 and 49. Currently, they are only allowed numbers between 80-89.

* Eliminate offensive players from blocking low when peeling back. Another player-safety measure.

* Penalizing a ball carrier if he initiates contact with the crown of his helmet when outside the tackle box. Another player-safety rule.


* Change the time a team must keep a player claimed off waivers from two days to one.

* Expand the three-week window in which PUP players can practice to Weeks 6-11. It is currently from Weeks 6-9.

* Allow for a Friday night cutdown date rather than the normal Saturday the week before the regular-season opens.

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