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NFL Rule Proposal: NFLPA Disapproves of Hip-Drop Tackle Ban



New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is attended to by medical staff during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The NFL Competition Committee is submitting a ban on hip-drop tackles among the rule proposals for the 2024 season. The proposal is not being well received by the NFL Players Association. Many members have taken to social media to voice their displeasure.

What is a Hip-Drop Tackle?

A hip-drop tackle is when a defensive play tackles the ball carrier from either the side or from behind. Once the defender grabs the player, they let their body become dead weight and fall to the ground. This is considered so dangerous because the “dead weight” of the defensive player often lands on the legs or ankles of the ball carrier.

Hip-Drop Tackle Rule Proposal

This is the proposal from the NFL as posted on X today by Jonathan Jones of CBS. It states in part the definition of the hip-drop tackle, the reason for the rule (player safety), and the penalty (15 yards and an automatic first down). Jones reports:

“Officials believe they can correctly call it. Some, including the union (NFLPA), have worried about the potential subjectivity of the call.”

NFLPA Response to the Proposal

The NFLPA responded to the rule proposal penalizing hip-drop tackles. They released a statement saying that they “oppose any attempt by the NFL to implement a rule prohibiting a ‘swivel hip-drop’ tackle.”

They state that they committed to improving player health and safety, but the implementation of such a rule would cause parties for all involved, including fans.

Patriots Players Comments

New England Patriots players even voiced displeasure about monitoring hip-drop tackles when their starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson severely injured his ankle while on the receiving one last season. On Dec. 3, 2023, Stevenson exited the Patriots game against the Los Angeles Chargers after a hip-drop tackle.

New England players were asked about it after the game. Safety Jabrill Peppers simply stated after the game, “It’s football, man.”

Patriots captain David Andrews went into more detail on the issue. He wondered where people would eventually draw the line about what would be outlawed in the NFL.

“You’re going to eventually take away everything in the game,” Andrews said afterward. “It’s the defense’s job to tackle guys. I don’t think people are doing that with malicious intent. Eventually, you keep taking away certain plays, taking away this, taking away that, and what’s going to be left of the game? It’s an unfortunate reality of this game and no one wants to see that. Guys on other teams don’t want to see guys get hurt. We don’t want to see guys get hurt. But it’s an unfortunate reality of playing in the NFL.”

Responses Around the NFL

Once news broke that the proposal was being pushed forth it received a lot of pushback from players around the NFL. New Orleans Saints star Cam Jordan summarized the feelings of many with a trash can emoji.

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay was also not pleased by the proposal.

Like David Andrews, Case Keenum plays offense, but he was still in favor of figuring out better alternatives.

It appears the NFL players are nearly unanimous in the rule change, despite the stated cause being for player safety.

When Does the Vote Happen?

The hip-drop rule, along with other rule proposals, will be discussed and voted on at the NFL Annual League Meeting, which takes place from March 24 through March 27.

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