WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The so-called "horse-collar" tackle, which came under heavy scrutiny from the NFL's powerful competition committee after Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams injured four players with the maneuver in 2004, was banned by the league on Tuesday.
Owners voted 27-5 to enact sanctions against the tackle. The dissenting votes were cast by Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit, New England and New Orleans. Players who use the horse-collar tackle will now be penalized 15 yards, and could be fined, as well.
"I really hate the fact that the rule is kind of being named for one player," said Atlanta Falcons team president Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee. "Roy Williams is a good player and, according to the rules that existed (in 2004), he didn't do anything that was illegal. We try not to punish one player, but rather to address the future of that kind of tackle. And, as a committee, we were nervous about it."
Essentially, the horse-collar tackle was one in which a defender grabbed the inside back of a player's shoulder pads and then yanked him down from behind. The competition committee, in reviewing videotapes from last season, concluded the horse-collar tackle resulted in six serious injuries. Williams was the perpetrator in four major incidents, the most notable of which sidelined Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens for the final two games of the regular season and the first two playoff contests.
Williams could not be reached on Tuesday, but last week, in discussing the possible sanctions, termed the rule "crazy."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones voted against the change,
saying he was concerned about ambiguities in the new rule. A
15-yard penalty will be called only if the tackle immediately
brings the ball carrier down, and only if he's in open field.
"I'd rather it had been a fine and it not gotten to the penalty
phase," Jones told The Associated Press.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.