PHOENIX The bid to ban ball carriers from using their helmet in the open field might be a bridge too far - at least for now - for the NFL.
A plan to vote on that controversial rules change yesterday at the annual league meetings was tabled by the owners after blowback from several coaches, and it might not be brought up again this year.
Giants co-owner John Mara, a member of the NFL competition committee that proposed the rule, said coaches think it will be too difficult in the heat of the moment to decipher intent and whether the actual infraction happened.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was the most outspoken opponent during yesterday morning's discussion period, joining Emmitt Smith and several other current running backs in decrying the proposed rule.
"The concern from a lot of coaches is how it would be officiated," Mara said during a break in the meetings at the posh Arizona Biltmore. "Some think it would be too tough of a burden to place on the officials."
The rule's chances of passing are still thought to be good because it has the support of commissioner Roger Goodell as part of the league's ongoing bid to increase safety in the face of a massive concussion
The rule still could be voted on today, though the league might try to create a cooling-off period by tabling it until the spring meetings in May or waiting until next year, though the latter is considered unlikely because Goodell is so publicly supportive.
Jets coach Rex Ryan sounded as if he is in favor of the rule, at least when not behind closed doors with his fellow coaches.
"The game is aggressive, obviously, but you want to protect the players," Ryan said yesterday morning. "I'm always in favor of teaching techniques that protect the players."
The owners also held off voting on a proposal to eliminate the tuck rule, though several of them said that is expected to pass easily and could be ratified as early as today.
The owners didn't table all the rules proposals, though, approving a ban on all "peelback" blocks and a ban on overloading the line of scrimmage by the defense on all field-goal and point-after attempts.
The peelback ban - which is in reference to a low block from the side by a player who doubles back against an unsuspecting defender - was prompted by last season's hit by Jets guard Matt Slauson on Texans linebacker Brian Cushing that tore Cushing's knee ligament and ended his season.
The NFL reported no progress in its efforts to convince baseball commissioner Bud Selig to have the Orioles reschedule their Sept. 5 home game with the White Sox, so the Ravens can play host to the Thursday night opener now reserved for the defending Super Bowl champion.
As a result, the Ravens might be forced to play that game on the road - a major source of irritation to both the team and the NFL. But league sources remain optimistic Selig will come around eventually, with the result being the Orioles game moved to 4 p.m. ET and the Ravens kicking off at 9 p.m. Eastern.