Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

New NFL Rules Approved At Owners Meeting

At the conclusion of the NFL owners on meeting Wednesday new rules were approved for the upcoming 2013 season. One of the changes has caused controversy among players with many voicing their displeasure.

There were six rules presented to the NFL’s Competition Committee, with all six passing for implementation. Some of the rules the owners voted on was to eliminate the tuck rule, change the replay challenge rules so a bad challenge by a team does not prevent referees from reviewing a play and to penalized crown-of-the-helmet hits by players who are outside the tackle box or at least three yards downfield.

The rule change that has garnered the most ire from players is penalizing crown-of-the-helmet hits. Offensive and defensive players will be penalized if they lower the crown of their helmets to make contact. While the new rule addresses safety issues, many players and NFL pundits have said the rule will be hard to enforce and it takes away “the instinctive nature of running the football.” The voted passed 31-1, with the Cincinnati Bengals being the lone dissent.

Here is the official rule language for penalizing crown-of-the-helmet hits:

It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

Bay Area Sports fans and the Raiders Nation will appreciate the elimination of the tuck rule. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made the tuck rule infamous against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Divisional Round playoff game. Brady was sacked on a play near the end of the fourth quarter and fumbled the football with the Raiders recovering. However, referee Walt Coleman ruled that Brady was trying to “tuck” the football back into his body and called the play an incomplete pass, not a fumble. The Patriots were trailing by three points, would eventually tie the game and win in overtime.

The new rule says if a player loses possession of the football while bringing it back to his body, will be called a fumble. The vote was 29-1, with two teams abstaining from the vote. Not surprising, the Patriots were one of the teams not voting on the rule change. The other team was the Washington Redskins.

The other three rules passed included:

  • During a field goal or extra point attempt, the defense may not have more than six players on the line of scrimmage on either side of the long-snapper. These illegal formation penalties will be a loss of five yards from the previous spot. Defensive teams cannot push their teammates into the offensive formation on field goal or extra point attempts. Violations of this “unnecessary roughness” penalty will incur a loss of 15 yards from the previous spot.
  • Peel back blocks below the waist are illegal inside the tackle box.
  • Tight ends and H-backs are now permitted to wear jersey numbers 40-49.

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