Tuck Rule obituary: We come to bury it, not praise it.


Credit: NFL.com Illustration

It’s official. The tuck rule is no more. After 11 proud years of living in infamy, and suffering the ire of the Raider nation on a daily basis, the Tuck Rule passed away Wednesday morning at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. Suffering from numerous complications, the Tuck Rule was finally laid to rest when 29 owners decided it was time, after the rule had lived a long, healthy, but troubled life. Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots abstained from voting to bring down the iconic rule, as they had grown “too close over the years” and “couldn’t bear to watch it pass away.”

In case you have somehow forgotten, or you were too young to remember, the Tuck Rule gained notoriety in the 2001 AFC divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. The rule had been in effect since 1999, but had never been under the spotlight more than it was that snowy night in Foxborough.

It was the tail end of the fourth quarter, and Tom Brady was trying to engineer a game-tying (or game-winning) drive as the Raiders were holding on to a three point lead. Charles Woodson (remember when he was a Raider?) came off the line on a corner blitz and stripped Brady of the ball, which was then recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. Raiders fans rejoiced! Until…

The rest, as they say, is history. Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-tying field goal, and the Patriots rode that momentum to an overtime win and an eventual upset of the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Now, Raiders fans, players and front office officials can sleep easier at night knowing this rule will never again dash the championship hopes of another NFL franchise. And fans of other franchises now know they’ll never have to suffer as the Raiders have from this rule. Yet, we should all look back fondly on the memories the Tuck Rule gave us. It helped the Patriots reach their first of three championships in four years, and made Tom Brady into Tom Brady. Without that play, the mere phrase “Tuck Rule” would be meaningless to football fans, and instead of having one of the most iconic plays in NFL history, we’d likely just have Raiders fans bitter over losing the Super Bowl to Kurt Warner and the Rams.

So, let us not dance on the grave of the Tuck Rule, but instead, remember it for what it was. A misguided, slightly ridiculous rule that bestowed upon us some incredible moments in NFL history. It may not be missed, but it certainly will never be forgotten.

Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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