PHOENIX -- The Steelers were one of 29 teams today to overwhelmingly pass the much-debated rule that will now make it illegal for a running back to use the crown of his helmet to forcibly deliver a blow outside the tackle box.
The only team to vote against the proposal, which was voted on this morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, was the Cincinnati Bengals. The proposed rule was the most discussed and debated proposal at the meetings.
"The focus is going to be on the more extreme hits, the more extreme plays," Steelers president Art Rooney II said after the vote on the player-safety proposal that will penalize running backs 15 yards for delivering an unnecessary blow with the crown of his helmet. "Initially, it will be focused on, really, the obvious crown of the helmet type of hits.
"The concern, and I think there is a legitimate concern, was about how it is going to be officiated and how it's going to be taught."
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said those types of forcible hits by running backs needed to be eliminated. Tomlin was among the many head coaches at the meetings who were concerned how the rule would be enforced by the officials.
"I think it's obvious that we all want those types of plays out of the game," Tomlin said. "For me, it's about how do we officiate it. In spirit, they are obviously great rules that are intended for the good of the game, but officiating it is another thing."
Meantime, the Steelers were the only team to vote against the proposal to amend the tuck rule. The proposal passed by a 29-1 margin. Two teams -- the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins -- abstained.
Rooney said the Steelers voted in favor of the four other proposed rule changes.
The new tuck rule now states, "If, after an intentional forward movement of his hand, the player loses possession of the ball during an attempt to bring it back toward his body, it is a fumble."
"We didn't think it was necessary to make a change," Rooney said. "We were satisfied the rule was being officiated the right way. Why change something that's not broken, as far as were concerned?"
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter: @gerrydulac First Published March 20, 2013 6:00 PM