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Because the NFL is all concerned about "player safety," a little thing like "running helmet-less with the ball toward the end zone while 250-pound linebackers chase you down and try to tackle you by force" is now "illegal."

Oh, come on. That doesn't sound dangerous at all!

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Phillip Tanner(notes) would agree. The Dallas native, who used to work at a Texas Stadium concession stand as a youngster, had his helmet ripped off his head during a play in Sunday night's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. He somehow broke free from the tacklers and scampered, sans helmet, 23 yards into the end zone for what would have been a touchdown in any game up until this year.

The new rule brought the play back to the point where Tanner lost his helmet. For good measure, the Cowboys were called for an illegal shift penalty that would have wiped out the touchdown anyway. Still, it's one heck of a play:

We're unabashed fans of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" coverage and that clip shows you why. Al Michaels immediately knew the play was dead and still managed to capture the excitement of the play anyway, Cris Collinsworth offered an interesting take on Tanner's run, and the truck was immediately ready with a clip of the Jason Witten(notes) play they referenced.

The season opener on Sept. 8 can't come soon enough.

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i guess just crappy reporting at yahoo.

Pretty crappy reporting by the ref that announced the play, too I guess. As he explained the penalty, he said " as of this year" the play stops dead.

But seriously, if it stops the play, there has to be a penalty for ripping the helmet off in order to balance the rule book.That play on Tanner would have wiped out even a first down had Dallas not committed a penalty anyway, as he was stripped of his helmet at the LOS on 3rd and 1.

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As much as the rules we don't like. Rules are rules. Not to be broken.

Tanner did not "break " any rule by running. It was simply nullified. Had he broke a rule, there would have been a yardage penalty or loss of down. To me, it's safer to keep running untouched than to go down in a pile without your helmet.

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