It was a crowning moment for the NFL’s Competition Committee.
A proposal to prohibit runners and defenders from leading with the crown of their helmets outside the tackle box or more than three yards downfield passed overwhelmingly Wednesday as the owners meetings concluded.
The vote was 31-1, with only the Bengals casting a dissenting ballot. Flagrant use of the helmet crown as a weapon will draw a 15-yard flag from officials, who will be trained rigorously on when to apply the new safety rule.
“Our task ahead is to inform our players and officials how to proceed,’’ said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the competition committee.
“This is a pretty major change,’’ Falcons president and committee chairman Rich McKay said. “We view ourselves as a league that has to be a leader in this (safety) area.’’
Some Hall of Fame running backs, including career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, expressed skepticism when the rule was first proposed.
“It’ll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect, relative to use of the helmet,’’ Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “The main thing is it’s pro-health and safety, and that’s the big thing.’’
In wrapping up business, the league also abolished the tuck rule and eliminated the peel-back block.
He’s only been on the job for two months, but former Bucs executive John Idzik has already won over head coach Rex Ryan.
Idzik faces a massive rebuilding job in New York, where the Jets are searching for a reliable quarterback. Their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, is entering the final year of his contract and could be traded.
“John’s outstanding,’’ Ryan said at the NFL owners meetings. “A football guy and, obviously, very knowledgeable. He’s got a coaching background, a scouting background. You name it, he’s got it. He’s been around the game all his life – just like me.’’
Idzik spent 11 years with the Bucs in a variety of administrative roles and still owns a home in Tampa.
Gary Kubiak feels Greg Schiano’s pain. The Bucs went 7-9 in Schiano’s first season as an NFL head coach and Kubiak averaged seven wins in his first five years with the Texans.
Houston broke through in 2011 with a 10-6 mark and followed up at 12-4 last season, capturing a pair of AFC South titles.
“I tell my guys all the time that the difference between winning seven games in our league or winning 10 is about four or five plays all season,’’ Kubiak said. “That’s how fine the line is. The key is getting good enough where your team has a chance to win every week. We had two OT games within a five-day span and found a way to win them both. That was huge.’’
It’s going to take more than an 8-8 season to diminish Mike Tomlin’s swagger. Pittsburgh’s fiery coach, nurtured as a Bucs assistant by Monte Kiffin, readily admits a .500 mark isn’t acceptable for an organization that has won six Super Bowls.
“We have high standards in Pittsburgh and we embrace those challenges,’’ said Tomlin, who was asked about the popularity of the read-option attack spreading around the league.
“We look forward to having the opportunity to defend it,’’ he said. “We always believe we’re on the cutting edge defensively. I understand that’s the flavor of the month – we look forward to eliminating it.’’
Salary cap woes led to the recent departures of wide receiver Mike Wallace, linebacker James Harrison and running back Rashard Mendenhall. Such is life, according to the indomitable Tomlin.
“As gory as it is, we acknowledge that it’s part of the game,’’ he said.