Thoughts on tuck rule & Patriots

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
2:25
PM ET
Tom BradyMatt Campbell/AFP/Getty ImagesThis hit on Tom Brady by Charles Woodson jarred the ball loose and the Raiders recovered what was ruled a fumble. But after review, the play was overturned thanks to the tuck rule. The Patriots went on to win the game and eventually their first title.
PHOENIX -- Owners voted to abolish the "tuck rule" at the NFL's annual meeting, which brings back wonderful memories for some (Patriots) and a painful reminder for others (Raiders).

It's no news flash to say that no play is more associated with the tuck rule than Tom Brady's fumble-overturned-to-an-incomplete-pass in the "Snow Bowl." It gave the Patriots new life. It ripped away what the Raiders believed was almost a surefire victory.

A wound like that probably never heals, and some of that could be felt when the Raiders tweeted the following today: "Adios, Tuck Rule."

Last week, when it was learned that eliminating the tuck rule would be voted upon, the Raiders tweeted the following: "Tuck Rule? It’s been 11 years, 1 month and 23 days…but who’s counting?" The tweet was accompanied by a photo of cornerback Charles Woodson's hit on Brady that was initially ruled a fumble but then overturned by referee Walt Coleman on replay because of the tuck rule.

And we know the Jon Gruden-Robert Kraft story.

Anyone who roots passionately for a team should be able to have empathy for where Gruden and the Raiders are coming from on this topic. If you feel something was ripped away from you based on a quirky rule, and that rule is later abolished, one could take some comfort in that -- even 11 years after the fact.

But let's be clear here: This does nothing to diminish what the Patriots achieved in 2001.

As Bill Belichick pointed out Tuesday, that wasn't the only time the "tuck rule" had a direct impact on the Patriots, and they were on both sides of it.

“It played a big role in that season -- it cost us the Jets game and it helped us win the snow game," Belichick said, referring to a 10-3 loss in Week 2, which was the game in which Drew Bledsoe was knocked out by Mo Lewis, opening the door for Brady to emerge.

Particularly notable is that the Patriots and Redskins abstained on Wednesday's vote. The connection is that Redskins general manager Bruce Allen was the Raiders' general manager in 2001, which makes the abstention a classy move.

It was well-played by the Patriots as well.

Vote to abolish the "tuck rule" and it somehow could be viewed as putting a black mark on some of the greatest moments in franchise history.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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