Owners end tuck rule, approve helmet penalty

In votes Wednesday, the NFL‘s owners eliminated the tuck rule and agreed to the rule change that would ban offensive players from using the crown of their helmets against defenders in the open field.

The votes were 29-1 on the tuck rule and 31-1 on the helmet rule.

In voting on the tuck rule, the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins abstained while the Pittsburgh Steelers voted to keep it, sources told ESPN.

The Cincinnati Bengals were the lone dissenter to the rule that bans running backs from using the crown of their helmets against defenders in the open field, sources said.

Concerned with how the rule outlawing players using the crown of their helmets would be officiated, owners delayed voting Tuesday on the rule change.

On Tuesday, owners outlawed peel-back blocks anywhere on the field; previously, they were illegal only inside the tackle box. A player makes a peel-back block when he is moving toward his goal line, approaches an opponent from behind or the side and makes contact below the waist.

The penalty will be 15 yards.

“Under no circumstances will you be permitted to block low below the waist when you’re blocking back toward your own end line,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee.

Also banned Tuesday was overloading a formation while attempting to block a field goal or extra point. Defensive teams can now have only six or fewer players on each side of the snapper at the line of scrimmage. Players not on the line can’t push teammates on the line into blockers either.

The alignment violation is a five-yard penalty. The pushing penalty is 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

“There were injuries, yes,” Fisher said. “Talking to coaches and the players, it’s just not something they look forward to doing. It’s like, ‘Oh, we scored again? We have to go out there and protect, kick an extra point or try?'”

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said the league wants flags thrown when players use the crown of their helmet to initiate contact only on the obvious calls. Blandino said in cases where a player is not penalized, he could still be subject to a fine if video review after the game determines he made contact with the crown.

The penalty will be a spot foul for 15 yards.

New senior director of officiating Alberto Riveron said if the offensive and defensive player are both committing the foul, it would be an offsetting penalty and the down would be replayed.

Riveron said the key to officiating the play is in showing the officials more plays that are legal.

“That will be a great way to train, because as we know it, most of the shots we have seen are legal, most of the contact is legal,” he said. “We are trying to get that one individual situation where the head is lowered — and you can see on the field, you can see a player put his head down — and the contact is with the crown and you can see it.”

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

This article was originally posted on ESPN.com

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.