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NFL plans active offseason conversation about eliminating “hip-drop” tackles

Mike Florio and Peter King discuss how a 17-week regular season increases the number of injuries, particularly when it matters most, and at what point action should be considered from a player-safety standpoint.

The tackles that injured Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Cowboys running back Tony Pollard during the playoffs were legal. But they may not be next season.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said today that the techniques used on those tackles, in which the defender grabs the ball carrier from behind and then pulls him down while dropping the tackler’s own body to the ground, could be eliminated. That type of tackle, known in rugby as a “hip-drop tackle,” was banned by the National Rugby League in Australia because of the injuries it caused.

“I think it’ll be a very active offseason conversation, to look at the mechanism. Obviously the ‘hip-drop’ tackle is not the only cause of high ankle sprains. There are certainly other factors,” Sills said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

The NFL’s competition committee is expected to look at new rules, and Sills and the league’s medical staff would be involved in those discussions as well.

“We have noted that type of tackle that you mentioned. And I think it needs to be a very active discussion point, again, with the competition committee and others this season,” Sills said.

If hip-drop tackles are eliminated, many fans will say the NFL is going too far in restricting how defensive players can take down a ball carrier from behind. Then again, many fans said that when the NFL eliminated horse-collar tackles, but defenders adjusted their techniques and player safety was improved. The same may prove true with a new rule this year.