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Horse-collar rule will be a point of emphasis in 2012

horse-collar Getty Images

As we get ready for the start of the 2012 regular season, a rule that has been on the books for several years will be getting increased attention.

One of the specific points of emphasis for the coming season will be the horse-collar rule, which prohibits tacklers from grabbing inside the jersey and/or shoulder pads of a ball carrier.

The problem is that, despite a clear rule against the tactic, the league saw an increase in horse-collar tackles last year.  The rule hasn’t changed; the league instead wants players and officials to be aware that the NFL will be emphasizing this important safety rule.

Keep in mind that the rule does not apply to ball carriers who are in the tackle box.  It also doesn’t apply to a quarterback in the pocket.  During the offseason, the NFL consider the possibility of expanding the protection to quarterbacks in the pocket at the suggestion of the Steelers, but the Competition Committee decided against it.

Tackling a ball carrier by the hair continues to be fair game.  Even though the safety concerns are similar, players who choose to grow their hair long — and to allow it to flow from the helmet — assume the risk that they’ll be yanked to the ground that way.

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31 Responses to “Horse-collar rule will be a point of emphasis in 2012”
  1. robert831 says: Sep 4, 2012 8:43 PM

    This has got to be one of the stupidest rules ever added. It provides no value to the game or safety, it simply limits the defense further.

  2. freepretzels says: Sep 4, 2012 8:44 PM

    You can only enforce rules when you have the real refs on the field.

  3. berniemadoffsides says: Sep 4, 2012 8:45 PM

    I’d like to believe this, I really would. I feel like this rule is one of the most overlooked rules in football.

  4. cincinnasti says: Sep 4, 2012 8:45 PM

    I REALLY wish the Steelers would put Polamula in at Running back for a couple plays a year.

  5. goldrush36 says: Sep 4, 2012 8:45 PM

    Translation: If you grab a jersey at all during a tackle expect a flag immediately and a Fedex envelope within 3 days.

  6. goldrush36 says: Sep 4, 2012 8:49 PM

    Suggs and Aldon Smith were responsible for this “suggestion” as they call it lol

  7. lhr4 says: Sep 4, 2012 8:50 PM

    You can’t trust the Ref’s to spot the ball correctly, and call out the violators in a foul. How can you expect them to identify a horsecollar?!

  8. frank433 says: Sep 4, 2012 9:03 PM

    Robert, you must have misremembered the TO play that broke his leg?

    The refs sometimes call horse collar on a hair tackle too.

  9. norwegianwud says: Sep 4, 2012 9:04 PM

    That’s great! Who will focus on this on the field? A replacement, that by no-fault of his own, isn’t capable of making the judgement due to lack of training/experience? I’m sure teams and players will get the memo and should already know the rules. But I’ve seen about every rule possible broken on the line of scrimmage and in the back field in preseason and not called. Can’t wait to see someone get fined for something that happens right in front of a replacement ref and there is a “no call” on the field in a game. I would hope it all goes well but very skeptical.

  10. mgmac says: Sep 4, 2012 9:10 PM

    robert831 wrote: This has got to be one of the stupidest rules ever added. It provides no value to the game or safety, it simply limits the defense further.

    Robert, did you know this rule was added for player safety? The rule does add to player safety. Have you ever officiated a pee wee, junior hyigh, high school or college football game? If not you have proven to be an idiot bvecause your head is so far up your ass that you have no idea what you are saying. You sound like an “expert”. The only thing you probably have played is with yourself.. What a frickin’ moron you are

  11. toddwardou says: Sep 4, 2012 9:16 PM

    I actually really like this rule because this tackle is an easy way for a guy to screw up his knees/legs. BUT, let’s see how strictly it is enforced. Memo to all players: Dont grab the back of the jersey at all or you might be flagged, just let him go if you cant get your arms around him.

    Or grab his dreadlocks.

  12. randallflagg52 says: Sep 4, 2012 9:21 PM

    robert831 says:
    Sep 4, 2012 8:43 PM
    This has got to be one of the stupidest rules ever added. It provides no value to the game or safety, it simply limits the defense further.

    =================================

    While I normally hate these rules that limit the defense this is one I agree with. Go look at Roy Williams, the former dallas safety who the rule is nicknamed after. Then you can tell me (and Musa Smith) that the horse collar rule provides no safety to the game.

  13. mike5011ad says: Sep 4, 2012 9:42 PM

    As a former college player that played RB before switching to LB, I was both tackled by the collar and tackled people by the collar. I have seen very few people injured by this type of tackle. The only reason this got any publicity is because Donovan McNabb and TO got hurt when Roy Williams rolled up underneath their legs after they got tackled from behind. Actually grabbing them from the collar does not endanger the player anymore than any other type of grab. It’s a pointless rule.

  14. geniusfan says: Sep 4, 2012 9:43 PM

    “During the offseason, the NFL consider the possibility of expanding the protection to quarterbacks in the pocket at the suggestion of the Steelers, but the Competition Committee decided against it.”

    And just like that the legitimacy of every gripe the Steelers defense has with the protection of quarterbacks means absolutely nothing.

  15. giantsfanlewis says: Sep 4, 2012 9:44 PM

    It will go unnoticed when the part time refs come back and miss it. Espically on this biased site

  16. htown3 says: Sep 4, 2012 9:57 PM

    AT :robert831 says:
    Sep 4, 2012 8:43 PM
    This has got to be one of the stupidest rules ever added. It provides no value to the game or safety, it simply limits the defense further.
    ______________________________________
    Bo Jackson “WOULD BEG TO DIFFER”

  17. tdurdenlives says: Sep 4, 2012 10:00 PM

    “Tackling a ball carrier by the hair continues to be fair game. Even though the safety concerns are similar, players who choose to grow their hair long — and to allow it to flow from the helmet — assume the risk that they’ll be yanked to the ground that way.”

    I’ll never understand guys that let their hair flow around back there. I imagine getting yanked down to the ground by a handful or hair would be quite painful.

    Unless, of course, it’s a cheerleader doing the pulling…

  18. adlent says: Sep 4, 2012 10:01 PM

    This has got to be one of the stupidest rules ever added. It provides no value to the game or safety, it simply limits the defense further.

    —————————-

    You’ve obviously never been tackled this way. I had a high degree sprain in my ankle getting my leg bent under me by a horse collar and I was “lucky.” There are a lot of fractures this way.

  19. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Sep 4, 2012 10:04 PM

    Who changed the name to horse collar? Sincerely, Roy Williams

  20. FinFan68 says: Sep 4, 2012 10:11 PM

    The rule is fine. What’s stupid is emphasizing a rule. If it happens then call it. No need to single anything out. That implies other rules may not be flagged and therefore are not really rules…just randomly enforced suggestions. Call the games the same way regardless of who is playing, time left on the clock, or reg vs. post season.

  21. hyzers says: Sep 4, 2012 10:11 PM

    They should have focused on offensive holding instead!

    Also, if tackling by the hair is still legal, why did Suh get called for a horse collar penalty when he cleanly took Marion Barber down by the dreads?

  22. steelersfan88007 says: Sep 4, 2012 10:25 PM

    I know everyone’s trashing Robert right now, but I partly agree with him. I disagree with his contention that eliminating these tackles will not result in fewer injuries, I think we’ve all seen a few examples. I do however, agree it is a bad rule. If you are a defender behind a ball carrier, what the hell are you supposed to do (tripping the guy’s illegal too)?! The other rule I can’t stand is that even if a defensive player is BLOCKED into the QB’s knee, he will be penalized. I agree with the helmet to helmet, late hits on QB’s, the defenseless receiver rule-but we’ve gone too far!

  23. moth25 says: Sep 4, 2012 10:27 PM

    I don’t understand all the commenters saying the replacement refs will miss horsecollar tackles. The reason it is being emphasized is because the regular refs missed so many of them last year!

  24. realfann says: Sep 4, 2012 11:03 PM

    So when a player wears his hair long he “assumes the risk” ??

    That’s like saying a girl wearing a mini-skirt assumes the risk of rape.

    Or a player is assuming the risk of a horsecollar by wearing a jersey.

  25. mjkelly77 says: Sep 4, 2012 11:26 PM

    Tackling a ball carrier by the hair continues to be fair game.
    _______________

    Tell that to Suh who grabbed some dreadlocks only and tackled the runner. But since it was Suh he got called for a horsecollar. Thank you, greedy part-time referee. Yeah, they really know the rules.

  26. mjkelly77 says: Sep 4, 2012 11:27 PM

    freepretzels says:Sep 4, 2012 8:44 PM

    You can only enforce rules when you have the real refs on the field.
    ___________________

    Again, tell that to Suh who grabbed some dreadlocks only and tackled the runner. But since it was Suh he got called for a horsecollar. Thank you, greedy part-time referee. Yeah, they really know the rules.

  27. boonevol says: Sep 5, 2012 9:59 AM

    Should be any harder for the replacement refs to call than the regular ones. Its s foul from HS on up.

  28. jolink653 says: Sep 5, 2012 10:23 AM

    My only issue with the rule is exactly what someone already mentioned: what are you supposed to do when the guy is already by you? Tackling at the legs is risky because if you mistime it and miss he’s gone for the touchdown and you might be out of a job and if you go up and grab him around the shoulders, you’ll usually wind up horse collaring him unintentionally…I get why it’s a rule and of course player safety is extremely important but this seems like one of those things that puts defenders in a really tough spot

  29. deiong says: Sep 5, 2012 11:21 AM

    i keep rooting to see someone pulled down by there hair. its awful that the league lets them have it that long anyways. there used to be rules against it. not sure why they allow it now. i wont even mind if its a person on the team i like. they shouldnt have it like that to begin with. glad its fair game. if they want to take that risk, its there fault. whats next? the league goign to allow players pants to sag around the players ankles?

  30. fin72 says: Sep 5, 2012 2:33 PM

    Bo Jackson “WOULD BEG TO DIFFER”
    _______________________________

    Bo Jackson wasn’t horse-collared when he got injured. Go watch the clip on youtube and get your facts straight.

  31. wyobroncoboy says: Sep 5, 2012 3:43 PM

    “Bo Jackson wasn’t horse-collared when he got injured. Go watch the clip on youtube and get your facts straight.”

    Lil before that time Gerald Wilhite was tho. Broke his dam leg right in half. Course the tackler was a true defensive beast at the time.

    Look it up and see whom made that nasty tackle.

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