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Horse collar exception for quarterbacks in pocket remains

horsecollar Getty Images

The NFL announced several rules changes on Wednesday, but one proposal that didn’t make it through the voting process was to make horse collar tackles on quarterbacks in the pocket illegal.

The rule was proposed by the Steelers and would have made it illegal to yank down a quarterback in the pocket by the back of his shoulder pads or inside collar of his jersey. Given the growth in protections for quarterbacks in recent seasons, it’s a bit surprising that the proposal wasn’t met with enough support especially since this is the rare instance where quarterbacks are fair game when the rest of the players on the field are protected.

It wasn’t, though, and that means defenders will still be able to make plays like the one Terrell Suggs made to thwart a late Bengals rally in Week 11 of last season. Suggs grabbed Andy Dalton by the back of the jersey and forced an intentional grounding penalty. The broadcasters on the game made it seem like Suggs should have been called for a horse collar tackle, although Suggs didn’t break any rules and won’t be breaking any if he does it again this season.

NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said after the announcement that they “didn’t see the injury risk” for extending the rule to quarterbacks in the pocket.

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25 Responses to “Horse collar exception for quarterbacks in pocket remains”
  1. albanyhawker says: Mar 28, 2012 12:29 PM

    The horsecollar penalty should be completely abolished. It doesn’t stop guys from doing it, and only one guy has ever been hurt by it, TO.

  2. RavenzGunnerz says: Mar 28, 2012 12:29 PM

    One of these days NFL players will need 1 year of law school before they enter the draft.

  3. TaiwanMike says: Mar 28, 2012 12:31 PM

    I find it interesting that a tackling method that was declared illegal because of repeated injuries is only legal on quarterbacks, the position the NFL is most out to protect.

  4. myspaceyourface says: Mar 28, 2012 12:33 PM

    They “didn’t see the injury risk” until someone is injured they won’t see the injury risks.

    Wasn’t the NFL behind the curve on concussions and the original horse collar style tackles.

  5. h4wksf4n says: Mar 28, 2012 12:34 PM

    Would James harrison be able to follow this rule if implemented?

    Pretty soon there will be a 2-ft bubble rule for qb’s!

  6. rmzthefirst says: Mar 28, 2012 12:36 PM

    Nice, rack up the sacks, I’d be looking for that collar…! Wossie QB’s…

  7. pkpittny says: Mar 28, 2012 12:36 PM

    Horse collar tackles are only dangerous if you are running forward, in which case the opposing force (horse collar tackle) puts a bunch of stress on a player’s joints/bones/ligaments.

    When you’re standing relatively still horse collars are not dangerous at all.

  8. erod22 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:40 PM

    Actually, several players have had their legs broken by horse collars, not just TO.

  9. mynameisusername says: Mar 28, 2012 12:44 PM

    NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said after the announcement that they “didn’t see the injury risk”

    Till Brady or Manning or the new Brady Rodgers get hurt then its a season ban and 4 mill fine

  10. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Mar 28, 2012 12:50 PM

    This was the one rule change I didn’t mind not passing. It’s hard enough to get a sack without worrying about how you’re tackling the guy.

  11. melikefootball says: Mar 28, 2012 12:50 PM

    Where does the league get injury comes into play..outside the pocket you can get injuried but not in the pocket.

  12. LoCoSu@%s says: Mar 28, 2012 12:57 PM

    This is actually one I agree with.
    Defensive linemen are usually fighting off the OL in fron of them before they can get to the QB.
    Case in point – Justin Smith getting a hold of Brees late in the game, that forced an incompletion.

    If the horse collar rule would have been in place – that was a penalty.
    Good job on this one NFL

  13. cooklynn17 says: Mar 28, 2012 12:58 PM

    Stupid…you should be able to slap the quarterback any way you see fit, Lawrence Taylor style.

    Just put a skirt on the qb already and get it over with.

    SFL – Soft Football League.

  14. nflfollower says: Mar 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    Thank goodness they didn’t. Can’t believe the NFL got it right on this one. About time they showed some common sense and restraint when it comes to these “protection” rules.

  15. rockthered1286 says: Mar 28, 2012 1:19 PM

    I totally agree with @pkpittny. The fact of the matter is, the QB is either stationary or barely has his feet going if he’s still in the pocket. There is little or no resistance, unlike a player running downfield at full speed, therefore the risk of injury is minimal. To say ‘what about their legs being at risk for being pulled down from behind’ is no different than any other hit in the pocket putting a QB at risk. They’re walking a fine line as it is, and they are doing their best to keep it safe without taking Football out of the NFL.

  16. theadmiral22 says: Mar 28, 2012 1:21 PM

    I agree that the horse collar shouldn’t be enforced within the pocket. The danger is magnified while sprinting forward and coming to a sudden stop with that much force being pulled down and backwards on your legs.

    @albankyhawker

    It wasn’t just TO who got horse collared….Williams basically ended Musa Smith’s (RB Ravens) career with a horse collar.

  17. rocketcrab says: Mar 28, 2012 1:26 PM

    albanyhawker says:
    Mar 28, 2012 12:29 PM
    The horsecollar penalty should be completely abolished. It doesn’t stop guys from doing it, and only one guy has ever been hurt by it, TO.

    Nope. Several years ago I saw a Ravens RB by the name of Musa Smith suffer a very nasty leg injury due to a horse collar tackle.

  18. jiggy3198 says: Mar 28, 2012 1:37 PM

    It’s not a rule until Tom Brady days its a rule

  19. kevpft says: Mar 28, 2012 1:40 PM

    Looks like I’m in the minority, but I think this type of tackle shouldn’t be allowed at all, under any circumstances.

    And don’t give me the defense of the NFL being made “soft” by such rules. There’s nothing tougher, stronger, and manlier then having to tackle someone by wrapping them up and bringing them down. All these advocates of “manly” football seem to want is protection for the cheapest and easiest forms of tackles, the kinds that take the least work and create the least risk for the defender.

    You want “manly” football? Then take on the challenge of a real tackle, don’t hide behind cheap shots as manliness.

  20. sportmentary says: Mar 28, 2012 1:57 PM

    I don’t understand how this couldn’t pass. the league is supposedly trying to protect players. So you can’t tackle any other player on the field in this manner but you can horsecollar tackle a QB who is in the pocket? That’s stupid!

  21. eaglesnoles05 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:01 PM

    LOL, ravensgunnerz- that will SERIOUSLY reduce the available player pool. I may actually have a chance to get in the league at that point!

  22. holdthemayo123 says: Mar 28, 2012 2:25 PM

    Of course it shouldn’t apply in the pocket – the reason it exists is because you can rip someone’s legs off as they are RUNNING. Just because some moron announcer doesn’t get it doesn’t mean the rule should be changed.

  23. errybodybabydaddy says: Mar 28, 2012 2:34 PM

    I wouldn’t mind roethlisberger getting horse collared every snap.

  24. zillabeast says: Mar 28, 2012 3:09 PM

    Justin Smith’s pure awesomeness saved this rule from the banhammer.

  25. 4512dawg4512 says: Mar 28, 2012 5:26 PM

    Horse collar tackles are very dangerous and they should be illegal all across the board

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