NFL Players Association Issues Statement in Opposition of Prohibiting Hip-Drop Tackle

The NFL's competition committee proposed a rule that would prohibit the hip-drop tackling technique, and the NFLPA and several players expressed disapproval.

The NFL will hold its annual league meeting next week, where the league will vote on potential rule changes for the upcoming season, including a revamped kickoff and a rule that would prohibit the hip-drop tackling technique.

NFLPA Opposed With Hip-Drop Tackle Ban

The rule proposal up for debate would make the hip-drop tackle a 15-yard penalty in an effort to control lower-body injuries.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) showed its opposition to the potential rule change.

“The players oppose any attempt by the NFL to implement a rule prohibiting a ‘swivel hip-drop’ tackle,” the statement said. “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.

“We call on the NFL, again, to reconsider implementing this rule.”

Hip-drop tackles have led to a variety of lower-body injuries in recent years, and the league has publicly stated it is ready to ban them from games. On the other hand, players believe that making these tackles a penalty would be bad for the game.

Several players posted their displeasure with this proposal on social media.

“Stop!!! How can you officiate something like this. Every game is too precious to gift teams 15 yards for routine tackling. Smh,” Browns safety Rodney McLeod posted on X (formerly Twitter).

“So 15 yard penalty for making a tackle… Got it,” Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin said.

“I mean how’s it possible to play defense at this point. We got rules for everything lol,” Commanders safety Jeremy Reaves chimed in.

“I pray to God they don’t approve this. For football’s sake..” Vikings defensive end Jonathan Green posted.

In a hip-drop tackle, the defensive player approaches from behind or the side and wraps his arms around the offensive player, becoming dead weight while dropping to the ground. Often, the defensive player’s body lands on the offensive player’s legs.

The tackle first became a concern when then-49ers safety Jimmie Ward seriously injured then-Cowboys running back Tony Pollard in a 2022 postseason game. Since then, the NFL’s injury data has shown that hip-drop tackles increase the risk of injury by 25 times the injury rate of a standard tackle.

The NFL identified 105 hip-drop tackles in the 20,000 tackles reviewed in the past two seasons. Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith, Mark Andrews, Tyreek Hill, and Deshaun Watson were among the players who were taken down by a hip-drop tackle last season.

KEEP READING: Proposed NFL Rule Changes — Breaking Down Notable Modifications Suggested From Onside Kicks to Hip Drop Tackles

Prohibiting the hip-drop tackle will take the approval of at least 24 NFL owners at next week’s annual spring meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Additionally, the NFL’s competition committee proposed a revamped kickoff on Wednesday that resembles the alignment used in the XFL during its 2020 and 2023 seasons.

The kickoff proposal would be the most significant on-field rule change for the NFL in years and is designed to reverse more than a decade of declining return rates while also lowering concussion rates.

The new proposal would prohibit the kicking team from moving until the ball contacts or is fielded within a designated “landing zone” between the receiving team’s 20-yard line and the goal line.

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