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NFL eliminates maligned tuck rule

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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NFL team owners voted Wednesday to approve proposals that eliminate the controversial "Tuck rule."

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Now, if a quarterback loses control of the ball before he has fully protected it after opting not to throw, it is a fumble. Several coaches and team executives expressed concern about officiating the new rule, but Commissioner Roger Goodell championed it and it passed Wednesday as the owners meetings concluded.

Steelers President Art Rooney said the Steelers were the only team to vote against getting rid of the tuck rule.

''We didn't think it was necessary to make that change,'' Rooney said. ''We were happy with the way it's been called.''

Owner also passed a rule that will prohibit offensive players from initiating contact with defensive players with the crown of their helmets outside of the tackle box.

''There was a lot of discussion,'' Rooney said of the helmet crown rule, ''but the way it was presented was the most effective way to address it.''The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.

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Goodell was eager to get approved the competition committee's proposal to outlaw use of the crown of the helmet by ball carriers, and there was talk the vote would be tabled until May if the rule change didn't have enough support.

But after watching videos of the play that clearly showed the differences in legal and illegal moves by ball carriers, the owners voted yes -and then applauded the decision, something Rams coach Jeff Fisher said is ''rare.''

''We had discussions with the players association and the players themselves, the coaches' subcommittee,'' said Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee. ''A lot of people talked to us about this rule and how to roll it out in our game.''

The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.

''It'll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. ''One of the questions I ask a lot is who gains from this, offense or defense? And it's a toss-up as to which side of the ball has the advantage on this rule, if any. The main thing is it's pro-health and safety, and that's the big thing.''

''Jim Brown never lowered his head,'' Rooney said with a smile. ''It can be done.''

Additionally, the NFL updated the challenge flag rule to better allow incorrect calls to get overturned.

Video review now will be allowed on plays when a coach challenges even though he is not allowed to. But the coach will be penalized or lose a timeout, depending on when he threw the challenge flag.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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