Sports Out West

NFL tuck rule: Raiders tweet approval of possible reversal

Gillette Stadium_Bernard_Gagnon

The NFL is seriously considering eliminating the infamous “tuck rule” that has caused more controversy than it was meant to stop.

No franchise is happier about this development than the team that it affected most:

The most well-known instance of the misuse of the controversial rule was during the 2002 AFC Divisional game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots that vaulted Pats into status as a dynasty. Tom Brady appeared to fumble the ball after Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson appeared to knocked the ball out of his hands with a clear recovery by Oakland.

But the call didn’t stand, and the Patriots maintained possession, tied the game and went on to win in overtime. Since then, the tuck rule has affected countless other games, with three notable instances in 2012 occurring in the same week. Now, plays that were in the gray area of being a fumble due to the rule can be called more in line with how they appear as the intent can now be factored in.

It’s one of those rules that a lot of fans don’t understand and that also handcuffs officials into making what could be an obvious wrong decision based on the letter of the rule. It states that if a passer has his arm moving forward and loses the ball in the process, then it should be deemed an incomplete pass and not a fumble. However, quarterbacks often tuck the ball away and prepare to scramble or take a sack in the process, and as a result, many plays that should have otherwise resulted in fumbles and recoveries for teams did not.

This has been a long-time coming, and fans in California have to wonder what would have happened had the rule been interpreted differently in this historic game.

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.