Rooney still hopes to expand the horse-collar rule

AP

Pittsburgh’s proposal to expand the prohibition against horse-collar tackles to protect quarterbacks in the pocket was voted down by the NFL owners on Wednesday. But the Steelers aren’t giving up on it.

Steelers President Art Rooney II told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he still believes it should be illegal to yank down a quarterback in the pocket from behind by the inside of his jersey or shoulder pads, and he’s going to continue pressing his owners to eliminate that exemption from the rules.

I still think there’s hope we’ll get it passed at some point,” Rooney said. “I think this one kind of snuck up on them. If we can get the competition committee — at least some members of the competition committee — to take it seriously, then there’s a chance.”

Rooney said the Competition Committee wants to allow horse-collar tackles on quarterbacks in the pocket because its members think there’s less risk of injury when a quarterback is standing still than there is when a runner who’s moving forward is yanked backward.

“The committee doesn’t think [quarterbacks] have the same risk as the runner because of this torque issue,” Rooney said. “When they’re running and you pull them down from behind it’s a more violent kind of tackle than if the guy’s just standing there.”

Rooney (who was also the only owner to vote against the rule to make every turnover automatically reviewed by the replay assistant) seems to be out of step with his fellow owners. And that’s something of a surprise: At a time when the NFL seems to be doing everything in its power to protect quarterbacks, this year the league voted won a new protection for passers.