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NFLPA makes clear its opposition to prohibiting the hip-drop tackle

The Competition Committee made official its proposal to prohibit hip-drop tackles, following the edict of Commissioner Roger Goodell. A defender would face a 15-yard penalty for grabbing the ball carrier with both hands or wrapping the ball carrier with both arms, and then swiveling or dropping his hopes or lower body and landing on and trapping the runner’s leg below the knees.

On Wednesday, the NFLPA again stated its opposition to any rule prohibiting the tackle.

“The players oppose any attempt by the NFL to implement a rule prohibiting a ‘swivel hip-drop’ tackle,” the NFLPA wrote on social media. “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 the implementing this rule.”

The hip-drop 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 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.

NFL executive vice president of football ops Troy Vincent conceded last month that the hip-drop tackle could prove hard to officiate, with fines more likely than flags.

“Most uses of the helmet are captured the week after,” Vincent said.

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