Cowboys endorse the 'Roy Williams Rule'
By Charean Williams
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
KAPALU, Hawaii -
The Cowboys will vote to ban the horse-collar tackling technique, owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday.
NFL owners today will decide whether to deem the tactic unsportsmanlike conduct and subject to a 15-yard penalty and a fine. The technique, made infamous by Cowboys safety Roy Williams last season, involves grabbing a runner behind his neck and immediately pulling back on the shoulder pads.
"It's strictly a safety issue," Jones said. "It was shown that the combination of being able to stop the player's progress and follow through with the tackle was more risky than we wanted it to be. That's the way I look at it. I think players like Roy Williams expose some of the things, safety-wise, in a very positive way that we need to be looking at, because it takes a lot of skill to do some of those things."
The competition committee made its recommendation to outlaw the tackling technique in a presentation to owners Tuesday. Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, showed videos of three horse-collars, all involving Williams, that would be made illegal by the votes of 24 owners. The media is referring to it as the "Roy Williams Rule."
"I know people are talking about it being about Roy Williams, but it's really not," Pereira said. "It just happened that he was involved in some of these plays, and considering the extent of the injuries, this has become a concern."
Williams seriously injured three players with the technique in 2004. Tennessee Titans receiver Tyrone Calico injured both knees in a preseason game at Dallas on Aug. 30, requiring surgery on his left knee. Calico tried to play in one game before going on injured reserve.
Ravens running back Musa Smith went on injured reserve after a Nov. 21 tackle by Williams left him with a compound fracture in his right leg that required surgery.
Eagles receiver Terrell Owens' surgically repaired right ankle and fractured fibula after a Dec. 19 tackle by Williams kept Owens out four games, including two in the postseason, over seven weeks.
In addition, a horse-collar tackle by Williams on running back Jamal Lewis forced Lewis to miss two games with a sprained right ankle, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said Tuesday.
"There were four different occasions that it ended up being an injury on that type of tackle," Newsome said, "so from a safety standpoint, we have to try to find a way to eliminate that."
The horse-collar is among 19 proposals owners are expected to vote on today.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said he is getting the cold shoulder from the Cowboys concerning trade talks for New Orleans defensive end Darren Howard. But Jerry Jones said the team remains interested.
"We just haven't been able to come to any agreement on compensation, which isn't unusual," Jones said.
The Cowboys have no interest in trading either of their first-round draft picks -- No. 11 and No. 20 -- or linebacker Dat Nguyen.
The Saints used the franchise tag on Howard, guaranteeing him $7.8 million this season, but New Orleans has been working to trade the five-year veteran who had 11 sacks last season and has 41 in his career.
The Cowboys have not decided whether to switch to the 3-4 defense, and Jerry Jones said there is no timetable to decide.
"[The draft] will impact the decision somewhat," Jones said.
The 3-4 defense is making a comeback in the NFL and is the scheme preferred by coach Bill Parcells. But the Cowboys want to make sure their personnel fits the 3-4 before making a decision. Toward that end, they signed Jets nose tackle Jason Ferguson (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) in free agency.