Jan 12 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter of the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Schechter’s Lectures No. 21: The Tuck Rule


This week, we are going to take a look at a rule that has been in the books for quite some time, but took center stage about 10 years ago. It went in favor of Tom Brady (of course), and then we didn’t hear much about it in particular, until this weekend. A play invoked this favorite hot button rule on Saturday, so it was back on everybody’s tongue. It’s controversial, not well written, and kind of dumb. You know it, you hate it….the “tuck” rule.

Take your seats. Class is in session.

Let’s take a look at the language of the rule first:

When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.

You see how stupid that rule sounds? It’s an incomplete pass, even if the quarterback is trying to tuck it back towards his body? How does that make any sense? If he is not intending to throw a pass, if he is intending to tuck it in, it should be a fumble. That rule takes away any need for considering the QB’s intent. Heck, based on that rule, if you are feeling the rush, just wave your throwing arm forward. If you lose the ball, it will be an incomplete pass, according to the reading of that rule. Just throw the arm forward with the ball in it, even if you don’t intend to throw, the rule states that you threw.

It came up Saturday on a play with Peyton Manning. He was under duress, cocked back to throw, and brought his arm threw. He pulled the ball down, brought it to his hip, all in one motion, and the ball started to come out, and was fumbled. The initial call was fumble, but they looked at to check the dreaded “tuck” rule. His intent was obvious, he was trying to pull it in, but they have to check it based on the rule. To the refs credit, however, they looked at the intent, and saw that clearly Manning was pulling it down. It may have technically been a tuck rule incomplete pass, but the refs used the “eye test”, and got it right.

Look at the intent, not just the language of the stupid tuck rule.

School’s out. See you next week.

Tags: Nfl Schechter's Lectures Tuck Rule