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Steelers In Favor of Hip-Drop Tackle Ban: ‘Dangerous Play’

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the teams that were in favor of the hip-drop tackle ban.



Pittsburgh Steelers Art RooneY II
Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II before the team's game against the New England Patriots, Dec. 7, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

ORLANDO, Fla.– On Monday, the NFL officially passed the proposal to band hip-drop tackles, which was met with outrage from players and fans. But the competition committee unanimously supported it, and on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II stated that the Steelers were one of those teams that supported the rule changes, citing the fact they lost Le’Veon Bell to a hip-drop tackle back in 2015 at the hands of Vontaze Burfict.

“As you may recall, we lost Le’Veon Bell for a whole season because of a tackle like that way back. We’ve had concerns about it for a while now. The biggest question is — our officials have a hard enough job and it is a hard foul to call. So it will be interesting to see how it gets called. But there’s no question it can be a dangerous play,” Rooney said.

Steelers head coach Mike 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?”

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.

Alan Saunders contributed reporting from Orlando