NFL owners approved a proposed rule on Wednesday to ban ball carriers from initiating contact with the crown of their helmets in the open field. The decision came on the final day of the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. The owners also overwhelmingly abolished the infamous tuck rule, which has been talked about around the league for more than a decade. The controversy over the helmet-hit rule, which passed by a wide margin, had been growing since it was proposed by the NFL Competition Committee on Thursday. While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly backed the rule, it was criticized by players ranging from current Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. The new rule will draw a 15-yard penalty if a runner or a tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players clearly are outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle-to-tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or a tackler against an opponent would not be deemed a foul. The rule was proposed as part of the league’s health and safety crusade. The competition committee wanted to take away a play that could cause a concussion, by making it illegal for players to use their helmets as weapons. “We really think the time has come that we need to address the situation in space when a runner or a tackler has a choice as to how they are going to approach the opponent,” Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL Competition Committee, said before the meeting. “We are going to say that you can’t make that choice ducking your head and delivering a blow, a forcible blow, with the top crown of your helmet. We are trying to protect the runner or the tackler from himself in that instance.”