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Tuck Rule: Allen honors Davis by abstaining

The SportsXchange

Defensive back Charles Woodson echoed the sentiments of Oakland Raiders players and fans Wednesday when he cheered the demise of the infamous Tuck Rule.

However, it was Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, a former Oakland general manager, who made a symbolic gesture during the voting in Phoenix that represented the late Al Davis, the longtime renegade owner of the Raiders who died in 2011.

When the vote was taken, Allen abstained. He admitted it was not coincidence that he used the same voting ploy so often utilized by Davis on issues that displeased him.

"Respect," Allen told The Sports Xchange.

Despite that gesture, and another abstention by New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who was trying to preserve the integrity of one of his team's historic moments, the flawed rule was rescinded by a 29-1 vote.

"Hallelujah," Woodson said Wednesday in an interview on NFL Network. "It shouldn't have taken this long. It's been 11 years I guess now. It's about time that they turned it over. It was really just a badly explained rule from the jump, and it didn't make a whole lot of sense the way the rule was interpreted.

"So I think the best thing was for them to just throw it out."

And that is exactly what the NFL did Wednesday when league executives agreed with a proposal by the competition committee to rescind the infamous rule.

The Tuck Rule burned its presence into the NFL Hall of Infamy on Jan. 9, 2002, in the closing moments of the fourth quarter during a playoff game at snowy Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots were trailing the Raiders by three points when quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass. After he began a passing motion, Brady pulled the ball back into his body, where it appeared to touch his left hand.

Woodson rushed off the defensive left side and knocked the ball out of Brady's hand. Raiders middle linebacker Greg Biekert fell on the loose ball, and the officials initially called the play a fumble and a recovery by Oakland.

However, after an instant replay, referee Walt Coleman reversed the call, declaring the play an incomplete pass, meaning the Patriots retained possession. In subsequent explanations, Coleman said the call was covered by the Tuck Rule.

Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri eventually tied the game with a 45-yard field goal and then added a field goal in overtime to give New England a victory. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season.

For the ever-paranoid Raiders Nation, a fan base that thought it was burned in the 1970s by Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception," this was hyped to be yet another slap from the league.

Davis, the owner of the Raiders who died Oct. 8, 2011, wasn't around to see the historic reversal, which he most certainly would have deemed an admission of guilt on the part of the NFL. Davis, whose guerilla tactics helped merge the NFL and AFL in the 1960s, was a constant thorn in the side of the NFL, especially after Pete Rozelle was chosen as commissioner over Davis, the AFL commissioner at the time the leagues merged.

Mark Davis, Al's son who took over the Raiders upon his father's death, voted to banish the rule, believing that is what his father certainly would have wanted.

However, Al Davis was well-known to take a stand against issues by abstaining from numerous votes.

So, although Mark Davis voted for the rule change, it was Allen's abstention that echoed the spirit of the late Raiders owner.

Allen openly complained loud and often about the rule that eliminated his team from the playoffs in 2002.

He wrote Wednesday in a text to The Sports Xchange, "They finally admitted our play has nothing to do with the Tuck Rule. It was a FUMBLE."

When the NFL's Competition Committee re-examined the rule after the 2001-02 season, no changes were made. Mike Pereira, then head of NFL officiating, noted that attempts have been made to revise the rule, but such revisions were more difficult to enforce than the current rule.

The Tuck Rule also was enforced in a playoff game on Jan. 9, 2011, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens. After that game, Pereira stated that he was no longer in support of the rule.

Woodson admits he was surprised the rule was rescinded.

"You think about the times you've had the opportunity to be in the playoffs and have a chance to advance," he said. "You think about it. You think about lost opportunities. And you think about it.

"But I haven't thought about it for some time now, and all of a sudden, (the Tuck Rule) was up for repeal. I was just hoping that it got passed, or that it got thrown out. So that's good -- good for the NFL."

Woodson is a free agent after being released by the Green Bay Packers. He has talked to several teams but has not received an offer.
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