Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said on Wednesday that he was “pleased” the new rule prohibiting offensive players from striking a blow with the crown of their helmet passed, and it did so overwhelmingly.
Murphy said the vote was 31-1. It needed 24 votes for passage.
“The biggest issue with our coaches was, ‘Can you officiate it?’” said Murphy, who is a member of the league’s competition committee, which proposed the new rule. “But the more we worked through it, I think people came to believe that it can be officiated.
“I also think there’s a real sense that this is bigger than just … the running backs don’t like or there’s maybe a bad call once in a while. It’s part of a larger effort to take the helmet out of the game, and what we talked a lot about was getting back to using the shoulder, shoulder tackling, wrapping up, more of the traditional tackling you saw years ago. Now so often with tacklers, it’s going for the kill shot.”
A key to both proposing the rule and getting it passed, Murphy said, was confirmation from officials that they were comfortable with the rule’s parameters and what was to be deemed illegal.
“It’s clearly outside the tackle box and clearly more than three yards downfield,” Murphy said. “It’s really meant to prohibit a running back or tackler, squared up, going right at them with the crown of the head.”
Murphy said the competition committee reviewed roughly 50 plays on videotape from last season that constituted either violations or were examples of incidental contact that is not to be flagged. None of those plays involved the Packers, according to Murphy.
Other proposed rule changes that passed included elimination of the “tuck rule,” a change to the replay rules that will allow plays to still be reviewed even if the red flag is thrown illegally, and a prohibition against the defense loading up one side of its formation to try to block a field goal or extra point. Long snappers were also given defenseless player protections.
The “tuck rule,” of course, was made famous by former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson, when he played for Oakland. Back in the 2001 AFC playoffs, Woodson’s late fourth-quarter hit on New England QB Tom Brady jarred the ball loose, and the Raiders recovered to essentially seal the win. But upon review, the “tuck rule” negated the fumble and called it an incomplete pass, and the Raiders eventually lost the playoff game in overtime.
“I plan on giving Charles a call,” Murphy joked.
The replay change became known as the “Jim Schwartz rule” after the Detroit head coach in effect negated a review of a long TD run by Houston on Thanksgiving by throwing his red flag, even though all scores and turnovers are automatically reviewed. The illegal challenge canceled the review, but that will no longer be the case.
“To not have a review was (a) pretty severe, (penalty),” Murphy said. “The goal is to get the call right.”
Murphy added that one of the situations studied on film by the competition committee involved the Packers at the Metrodome in Week 17, when Mike McCarthy threw his red flag on an apparent TD by James Jones that was ruled a fumble on the field. The play was still reviewed because the review had been initiated before McCarthy threw the flag, but the video showed Packers WR Jordy Nelson grabbing McCarthy’s flag and trying to hide it so the officials wouldn’t cancel the review.
“Players will not have to do that anymore,” Murphy laughed.
Tags: competition committee, helmet rule, mark murphy
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