NFL eliminates tuck rule, approves helmet rule

The NFL eliminated, approved and changed rules Wednesday during the annual league meetings in Phoenix.

Gone is the infamous tuck rule, which was eliminated by a 29-1-2 vote. Pittsburgh voted against the rule change, while Washington and, not surprisingly, New England abstained.

After all, the Patriots greatly benefited from the tuck rule when a Tom Brady fumble was overturned in a snowy 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game against Oakland. The controversial call, which wiped out a late fourth-quarter turnover that likely would have sealed a victory for the Raiders, sparked the Patriots to a comeback win in overtime. They eventually captured the first of three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span.

NFL owners also passed a new rule that bans players from leading with the top, or crown, of their helmets outside of the tackle box. This will especially effect running backs, as the ball carriers commonly use their helmet as protection from oncoming and often unavoidable contact.

The rule was proposed as part of the NFL's health and safety initiative, which is supported by the commissioner Roger Goodell.

In addition, league owners also voted to change a rule which relates to the illegal throwing of the challenge flag. Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz was linked to this rule last Thanksgiving, when he threw the challenge flag on a touchdown that should have been wiped out. All scoring plays are reviewed and by throwing the flag, the rule prohibited the referee from looking at the video evidence.

Now, if a play is challenged illegally, the team will forfeit a timeout. If a team is out of timeouts, it will be penalized 15 yards, but the play will still be reviewed.