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NFLPA fires back at league wanting to ban controversial ‘hip-drop’ tackle

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The NFLPA is once again opposing the Competition Committee after an official proposal to vote on prohibiting “swivel hip-drop” tackles was sent to all 32 NFL teams to vote on next week at the annual spring meetings in Orlando, Florida.

The controversial tackle, where a defender wraps the ball carrier with their hands or arms, and then drops their hips, causing the other player’s legs and feet to get trapped, has been a hot topic around the league. 

The tackle has caused injuries to numerous players, and commissioner Roger Goodell has led the way for the rule to be voted on. 

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NFL logo on field

The NFL logo on the field before the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium on December 3, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“The players oppose any attempt by the NFL to implement a rule prohibiting a ‘swivel hip-drop’ tackle,” the statement read. “While the NFLPA remains committed to improvements to our game with health and safety in mind, we cannot support a rule change that cause confusion for us as players, for coaches, for officials and especially, for fans. We call on the NFL, again, to reconsider implementing this rule.”

One of the main examples being used for the hip-drop is former San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward’s tackle during the 2022 postseason against then-Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard. Ward’s tackle forced Pollard to suffer an ankle injury that eventually needed surgery to repair. 

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Since then, the NFL has found 105 hip-drop tackles in 20,000 tackles reviewed since 2022, per Pro Football Talk. They have also found the tackle increases the risk of injury 25 times the standard tackle injury rate. 

How exactly an official can tell if a hip-drop happened in real time is the biggest question, though, one NFL executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, admitted it would be a challenge. 

Roger Goodell speaks to the media

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 5, 2024 in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

While some instances are easy to see at the moment, there are other hip-drop tackles that could come in scrums or be disguised as a regular tackle. For players, safety and proper technique is always the thought process. 

However, players would argue they cannot be thinking about the perfect way to tackle someone when they are trying to help their team win games. 

The controversial topic will be up to the NFL teams now, as at least 24 need to vote in favor of the rule being enforced next season. 

Referee Bill Vinovich, #52, looks on prior to Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024 in Las Vegas. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

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If so, a 15-yard penalty will be called on the field.

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