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NASCAR passes rule requiring drivers to stay in car

Kevin-Ward-JrNASCAR announced a new rule on Friday in an attempt to prevent future accidents like the one we saw last week resulting in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. The rule requires drivers who have been involved in an accident to remain in their vehicle when it is safe to do so.

According to USA Today Sports, drivers who are unable to make forward progress after being involved in an incident are required to shut the engine off and lower their window net if uninjured. At that point, the driver must wait for instructions from safety personnel or NASCAR officials before loosening safety equipment. Finally, when directed, the driver must walk directly toward an ambulance or other safety vehicle without approaching the racing surface or another driver’s car.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said many versions of these rules are already in place but have now been formalized. Drivers have always been told to remain in their vehicles after a crash when it is safe to do so.

[Graphic VideoKevin Ward Jr. hit and killed by Tony Stewart]

While no specific punishment has been outlined for drivers who violate the rules, Pemberton said each case will be handled individually and penalties could be assessed.

Of course, if a driver really wanted to exit the vehicle he or she could always claim to have smelled gas and felt unsafe. But you’d like to think more drivers would be inclined to remain in their vehicles after seeing what happened to Ward.

It’s a shame it takes such a tragedy to reinforce rules and guidelines that should really be common sense.

NFL bans dunking on goal posts

Jimmy Graham goal posts

Jimmy Graham is going to have to spend some time this offseason coming up with a new touchdown celebration. The NFL has passed a rule that will ban dunking on goal posts for the 2014 season and beyond. Dean Blandino, the NFL’s head of officials, told the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday that dunking on the goal post will be a penalty next season.

This is not going to please Graham, as the New Orleans Saints tight end slammed the ball through the uprights all 16 times he scored a touchdown last season. However, it should be noted that Graham is probably the player who inspired the rule. He literally bent the goalposts during a game against the Atlanta Falcons last season and stadium workers had to re-level them.

Graham is not the only person who disagrees with the rule. Tony Gonzalez feels even better about his retirement now that it has passed.

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Matt Forte says he’s setting up ‘lowering the boom fund’ for new RB helmet rule

Matt-Forte-BearsNFL owners voted on Wednesday to approve several rule changes, the most controversial of which is the league’s decision to prohibit offensive players from initiating contact with defensive players outside the tackle box by using the crown of their helmets. Running backs around the league are understandably upset with the change, as it will force many of them to completely alter their running style.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has been one of the most outspoken players about the new rule. He has been tweeting about it all week long, and now that the helmet rule has passed Forte is basically saying he’s not going to follow it.

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Robert Kraft has signed picture from Jon Gruden of tuck rule saying it was a fumble

Tom-Brady-tuck-ruleOne of the rules that is being examined at the annual NFL owners meetings this week is the infamous tuck rule. The rule is one of the most beloved by New England Patriots fans and equally despised by Oakland Raiders fans. If not for the tuck rule, who knows where Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would be today.

In case you’re too young to remember, the tuck rule overturned a Brady fumble in the 2001 playoffs that would have allowed the Raiders to ice the game and advance to the AFC Championship Game. Instead, New England kept the ball and went on to win. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who said he never knew what the rule was prior to that game, has a predictable opinion on the matter. He also has a unique piece of memorabilia pertaining to the tuck rule, courtesy of former Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

“I love the tuck rule and forever will. I know (late Raiders owner) Al Davis, may he rest in peace, is probably smiling,” Kraft said Monday according to ESPNBoston.com. “But whatever the rule is, it is, I will forever … I have a picture, a big photograph in my office that Jon Gruden gave me with the snow coming down, and Tommy in that position. He signed it, ‘It was a fumble.’ I’ll probably give that to the [charitable] foundation to auction off at some point.”

Most people agree that the infamous tuck rule play from more than a decade ago was the right call on a bad rule. Outside of Foxboro, there are very few people who want to keep it in effect. I’m sure Gruden is one of the many who would be thrilled to see it go.

Terrell Thomas: Running backs should stop complaining about new proposed rule

Terrell-Thomas-GiantsThe NFL has spent a tremendous amount of time finding ways to protect players over the past several years, but most of the changes to the game have been made to protect offensive players. A new proposed rule is aiming help protect defensive players.

Members of the NFL’s Competition Committee are considering a rule change that would make it illegal for running backs and ball carriers to lower their heads and use the crown of their helmets to initiate contact with defenders. A number of running backs feel that such a rule would completely alter the way they run, but New York Giants defensive back Terrell Thomas seems to fully support it.

“It’s hilarious seeing all these (running backs) complain about the rule change,” Thomas wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Welcome to the last 5 years of a defender’s life. We’re robots now. We can’t contact a (wide receiver) after five yards but they can contact us as long as it doesn’t create space AFTER five yards.

“A defender can’t blind side an offensive player, but an offensive player can blindside a defensive player as long as its not going back towards the ball.”

There have been a wide range of opinions on the topic, but Thomas makes some very valid points from the defensive player’s standpoint. A lot of people disagree with the defenseless receiver rules and the new proposed running back rules, which is one thing. However, if the rules are going to limit so many things for defenders it seems only fair that they would do the same for offensive players. That being said, you’re never going to stop veterans like this from disagreeing with rules that take violence out of the game.

New marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington will not alter MLB, NFL policies

In addition to Barack Obama being elected to serve another four years as President of the United States on Tuesday, we also saw some significant changes in the laws pertaining to marijuana use across the country. Voters in Washington and Colorado approved a law that will legalize the use of marijuana by adults in their states. That means Peyton Manning, Willis McGahee, Felix Hernandez and others can now smoke pot whenever they please, right? Not quite.

Neither the MLB nor the NFL is reportedly planning to change its policy regarding marijuana use among players, so as of now the law hardly applies to players. According to USA TODAY, NFL players would still be subject to fines or suspensions if they are found to have marijuana in their systems. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports said the same will be true of the MLB, where a positive test will still lead to a 50-game suspension.

What does all this mean? The short answer is nothing. Unless players from Colorado and Washington want to jeopardize their eligibility, they’re best bet is to pretend the law never even passed and go about their business. San Francisco Giants fans will probably be jealous judging by some of their antics in the past, but you can always get a prescription in California. Aside from some jokes about Tim Lincecum wanting to be traded to Seattle or Colorado and recruits now banging down the doors at colleges in those states, it will pretty much be business as usual.

H/T Hardball Talk

NBA has set a 90-second limit on players’ pregame routines and ritutals

Is this the end of the LeBron James and Kevin Garnett chalk toss? We may still see pregame rituals such as those this upcoming season, but they’ll have to be completed in a timely fashion. According to The Oklahoman, the NBA has decided to require teams to return to the court for the opening tip no more than 90 seconds after pregame introductions have concluded. Kevin Durant is disappointed by the new rule.

“I personally don’t like it,” Durant said. “Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don’t make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don’t agree with it, but I don’t make the rules.”

Like many other team leaders, Durant likes to acknowledge each of his teammates personally before tip-off.. Before their preseason game against the Bobcats on Tuesday night, the ball was put into play before the Thunder had finished their greetings.

“Maybe I’ve got to go a little quicker,” Durant continued. “I’ve got to make sure I acknowledge all my teammates before I walk out on the floor. That’s just how I am. That’s how we are as a team, guys do their thing, their handshakes. I do the tying (of) the shoes, the praying. I’ve just got to speed it up.”

Like the new flopping rules, the NBA is probably going to have to levy a few fines before players actually start adhering to the 90-second policy. It’s going to take a lot to stop a guy like Garnett from pointing to each section of the TD Garden crowd and smashing his head off the pad underneath the basket before every game. If K.G. has to rush while rattling his brain he may not be ready to play.

H/T SLAM via Deadspin