Connect with us


NFL Bans Hip-Drop Tackle, Will Become 15-Yard Penalty

The NFL has unanimously banned the hip-drop tackle, which they have vowed to get out of the game after injury data on those hits.



NFL Hip-Drop Tackle Free Agent
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: A detail view of a NFL Crest logo is seen on goal post pad in action during a game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints on November 1st, 2020 at Soldier Stadium, in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The NFL has officially banned hip-drop tackles, the league announced in their list of newly approved rules on Monday. In a meeting, the league’s competition committee, which includes Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, unanimously approved banning the hit.

Tomlin offered support for the ban on Sunday evening.

“I think any of us that look at some of the examples of the injuries associated with the tactic want that out of the game,” Tomlin said. “The question and the debate and the discussion is around how do you go about doing it? And beyond that, how it’s officiated? And those are the two key components that we are discussing here. That’s to be determined. What is some language that empowers us to address the issue and how do we carry that out from an officiating or New York perspective in terms of dealing with violators?”

The NFL Players Association opposes the proposed ban.

“While the NFLPA remains committed to improvements to our game with health and safety in mind, we cannot support a rule change that causes confusion for us as players, for coaches, for officials and especially, for fans,” the union wrote in a statement last week.

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in response to the NFLPA: “I have a technique that causes 20 to 25-percent injury rate when it occurs. I respect their position, but as gatekeepers of the game . . . this is something that we have to remove.”

NFL Vice President Jeff Miller says they have watched over 20,000 plays and believe the hip-drop tackle has come up at least once per game. The way it is described in the new rulebook is the following:

A hip-drop tackle will be called if a player:

(a) grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms; and (b) unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s leg(s) at or below the knee.

It was reiterated that there had to be three phases of the tackle for the penalty to be called, which includes grabbing the player, lifting oneself off the ground, and then swiveling and dead-weighting on the opponent’s legs at or below the knee.

Currently, the NFL has listed the penalty as a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. In addition, the NFL expects fines to be levied against players who employ the technique, similar to how roughing the passer and contacting the head or neck area are dished out.

According to competition committee chairman Rich McKay, the now-approved rule was written to address only a subset of the rugby tackling style that has spread around the NFL in recent years. The NFL determined the injury rate on hip-drop tackles to be 20 to 25 times higher than on standard tackles.

Former Steelers inside linebacker Kwon Alexander ridiculed the possibility of the hip-drop tackle being banned in an interview with Alan Saunders of Steelers Now last October.

“They’re making it hard for us,” Alexander said. “I don’t really know what the game is coming to, for real. I don’t know how to stop from tackling someone around the waist. … I give it about three or four years, and I think they’re going to go to flag. How else are you going to tackle?”

The hip-drop is banned in Australian Rules Football, but the Aussie game is significantly different from American Football—most significantly, there are no helmets or shoulder pads. That hip-drop tackle is also banned in Rugby.

Alan Saunders contributed reporting from Orlando.