The Tuck Rule Is No More, And Aren’t The Raiders Happy About It (Plus Other NFL Rules Changes)

  • Glenn Davis

There was much talk last week that the Tuck Rule – made infamous, of course, by this play between the Raiders and Patriots in a 2002 divisional playoff game – might undergo significant changes based on how teams voted at the league meetings this week. Well, the votes are in, and the tuck rule is out. It’s out by a lot, too:

So while maybe the Pats and owner Robert Kraft are sad, not many other people are. You know who’s especially not sad? The Raiders. You know how we know that? Well, they didn’t really need to say anything, but they did anyway:

And that was after retweeting this. Let’s hope the Raiders don’t follow the Nets’ social media strategy: otherwise, the next time the @Raiders weighs in it’ll say something like, “The Tuck Rule used to exist but now it does not exist.”

While the Tuck Rule development was significant, though, there were other rule changes afoot at the meetings too. Let’s delve into the biggest of those for a bit:

1) Ballcarriers (and tacklers) now can’t use the crown of their helmet “to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field.” If that sounds like a mouthful with a ton of qualifiers, that’s because… it is. And there’s more room for interpretation (i.e. confusion):

So, this rule might be pretty tough on the refs who’ll be left to determine exactly which part of the helmet the ballcarrier used – to say nothing of how tough it might make things for running backs. Others, though, thought it was only fair for offensive players to make the same types of concessions that defensive players already have.

And Rams coach Jeff Fisher is all in, noting that the rule change will “bring the shoulder back” to football. Leading with the shoulder instead of the helmet’s all well and good, but something else he said is more problematic:

This is a very important step in our continuing efforts to emphasize player safety. Our game is safe and has been getting safer over time.

Maybe this new rule will prove beneficial, safety-wise, but it’d be nice if we could all just admit that the only way to “emphasize player safety” in a sport as violent as football is to get rid of football. That’s not to say that’s what anyone wants – the violence is a huge part of what draws us to the game, after all – but let’s be honest with ourselves about what we’re either participating in ourselves or helping to perpetuate. Rules like this might ease the collective football fan conscience, but “our game is safe”? Come on. There are steps to take to lessen the likelihood of a single catastrophic event, but as long as football involves big, strong, fast people hitting each other, it’s not safe.

2)The Jim Schwartz rule.” Remember last season when Jim Schwartz challenged a clearly-wrong call… only the play was subject to automatic review so it was against the rules to throw a challenge flag, and because Scwartz threw the flag the play, by rule, couldn’t be reviewed and the Lions were screwed? Well, in the future, if a coach mistakenly challenges like Schwartz did, the play will be reviewed. Good. The previous no-review punishment was way too harsh.

There were other rule changes too. Here they are. We can only hope, for your sake, that you’re even close to as happy with them as the Raiders were.