NAPA -- Time heals all wounds?

Tell it to Charles Woodson.

The NFL officiating crew made its annual trip to Raiders training camp Friday to go over rule changes and points of emphasis. The one of most interest to Raiders fans was the modification of the "tuck rule."

In short, quarterbacks who abort a passing motion and bring the ball back to their body and lose possession are charged with a fumble. Previously, the rule held that it was still part of the passing motion and considered an incomplete pass, even if it wasn't always enforced that way.

It was under that rule on Jan. 19, 2002 that official Walt Coleman ruled that what appeared to be a fumble by Tom Brady after a sack on a Woodson blitz was an incomplete pass rather than a fumble recovery by linebacker Greg Biekert.

New England Patriots  quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of the game in their AFC playoff 19 January 2002 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 16-13 in overtime. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (MATT CAMPBELL)

It came after a lengthy replay delay and extended a Patriots drive that ended in a game-tying 45-yard field goal in a driving snow by Adam Vinatieri. The Raiders eventually lost 16-13 in overtime.

When told the NFL video presentation would include that change, Woodson, with a bittersweet laugh, said, "I don't need no lesson in that."

Woodson was spared the indignity of having to watch his sack-fumble of Brady once more. The NFL video instead made no reference to the play that made the tuck rule famous, instead showing examples of the play in games last season involving the Rams and Bengals.


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Following the presentation, NFL official Pete Morelli said, "The philosophy prior to this year was that you could never define when the arm stops. Now, with all the technology, you know, 'Hey, he's not passing.' So we'll probably officiate them as fumbles and then go back and confirm it ... that's a change in philosophy and it took a long time."

Asked if under the new rule if the Brady play would be a fumble, Morelli said, 'Yes, I think so.'"

Not that it's any consolation to those who played on the losing team in New England.

"None of us on that team I don't think will ever get over it," Woodson said. "We feel like it was stolen. If you lose a game, you lose a game. You've got to deal with it. But when you feel like a game was stolen, that hurts because it's a missed opportunity and a chance to move on in those playoffs. It probably burns for everybody on that team."

The NFL voted to change the tuck rule last March, and former Raiders tackle Lincoln Kennedy, who was at practice Friday, wondered what took so long.

"Why now?," Kennedy said. "It's 12 years too late."

Kennedy said he remembers standing on the field near the Raiders bench with Biekert and Woodson while Coleman was reviewing the play.

"Charles and I were talking, and when we first saw the video, it was like, 'What are they reviewing? It was a fumble,'" Kennedy said. "Then Biekert said, 'They're going to overturn it. I told Greg he was out of his mind.

"And then he said, 'They're going to overturn it because they're taking too long and we're the Raiders.'"

Zack Crockett, a Raiders fullback and now a team scout, "You kind of knew what they were going to do. Now they're changing a rule that wasn't ever really a rule to start with. Anything can be made up to shaft us at times."

Even having gone on to win a Super Bowl and fulfill a probable Hall of Fame legacy with the Green Bay Packers won't separate Woodson from his part in history.

"If they show the play, they've got to show me, and they've got to show Tom Brady," Woodson said. "We'll always be connected by that play. I don't think it's going to go anywhere."

Kennedy believes the play had far-reaching implications beyond the Raiders losing a playoff game, with New England moving on to upset the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl and establish themselves as a dominant franchise.

"We didn't realize it at the time we'd be part of history for what is considered one of the greatest blown calls in all of football," Kennedy said. "More importantly, it kicked off a dynasty. Who would have known if we had taken that ball away if Tom Brady would have been a household name? Or Bill Belichick? Or the New England Patriots?"

Raiders players made a silent protest in the training camp leading into the 2002 season, with the endorsement of Bill Callahan, who replaced Jon Gruden as head coach.

When the officials came in for their annual visit, the players got up and walked out.

For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.