NFL outlaws rough tackling

By wire services
Published May 25, 2005

National Football League owners outlawed "horse-collar" tackles, the type of play that left all-star receiver Terrell Owens with a broken leg last season.

Owners voted 27-5 at the league meetings in Washington to prohibit the tackle, in which a defender grabs the inside of a running back or receiver's shoulder pads from behind and pulls him down. A violation will result in a 15-yard penalty, league spokesman Joe Browne said.

The league's competition committee recommended the change after six players, including Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles, were seriously injured last season when they were pulled down from behind in the open field.

Owens broke a bone in his right leg and severely sprained his ankle when Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams grabbed the inside of Owens' shoulder pads and bent his legs back during a Dec.19 game. Williams also injured Tennessee Titans receiver Tyrone Calico and Baltimore Ravens running backs Jamal Lewis and Musa Smith with similar tackles.

The competition committee, in reviewing the plays, determined Williams could have made more conventional tackles. The new rule applies to plays three or more yards from the line of scrimmage.

CARDINALS: Arizona signed wide receiver Charles Lee, who played the past three seasons with Tampa Bay and had 15 catches for 207 yards last season, to a one-year contract.

REDSKINS: Safety Cory Hall signed with Washington after two seasons with Atlanta.

SAINTS: New Orleans owner Tom Benson said he'll ignore a record $1-billion offer for the team and won't decide about moving the club in a stadium dispute until the 2005 season is over. Benson declined to identify the groups interested in buying the Saints.

TITANS: Tennessee tight end Ben Troupe has a foot injury that might cause him to miss the rest of the offseason.

VIKINGS: Free agent kicker Paul Edinger agreed to terms on a one-year contract.

DIVERSITY: Racial diversity within league coaching staffs and front offices is improving, according to a University of Central Florida study. UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave the NFL grades of B for race and a D-plus for gender, although the league has a higher percentage of woman executives at the top than the other major men's sports leagues.