Yes, this is still illegal. No, it wasn't called. - Jonathan Daniel
This could either be good, or very, very bad. I'm leaning towards bad. The NFL has made two rather significant rule changes at the owners meetings.
Two major decisions have come out the annual NFL Owners Meetings today. The Tuck Rule, long considered one of the worst rules in the NFL, is finally gone. We'll have a live report later today from the parade in Oakland.
The rule's elimination makes it so a player loses possession when he tries to bring the ball back to his body. If the passer loses control while the ball is going forward, it's still incomplete. If he loses the ball while tucking, it's a fumble.
You can read the story as it develops at NFL.com.
In addition to the Tuck Rule being ousted, the NFL has also made it illegal for running backs to lead with the crown of their helmet outside of the tackle box. The tackle box, an area that is essentially as subjective as the strike zone in baseball, extends in theory two yards outside of either offensive tackle at the line of scrimmage. Where the gray area of this rule will come in to play is on zone running plays where the tackles are shifting from one side of the field to the other. Is the tackle box considered mobile? Does the box extend outside of in-line tight ends of extra linemen in jumbo sets? What if a back is falling forward and strikes a defender with the helmet? What if the defender leads with his helmet? With the passage of this new rule, it wouldn't seem to be illegal for safeties to simply throw themselves in front of a running back's helmet to try and draw a penalty.
This rule has the potential for a lot of growing pains, and as a fan of a team that runs the ball at every possible opportunity, I'm not looking forward to it. Good for the league for trying to make the game safer, but I sometimes question if putting that responsibility in the hands of subjective referees is the right way to do that.