The NFL has said that it is planning to have conversations about banning the “hip-drop tackle” this offseason, but the NFL Players Association would prefer if they left the play alone.
Injuries to Cowboys running back Tony Pollard and others created the impetus to ban the play, which sees a defender grab the ball carrier from behind and pull him down while dropping the tackler’s own body to the ground. The play has been banned by the National Rugby League in Australia because of the injury risk, but the union said it is against imposing a similar ban in the NFL.
In a statement, the NFLPA pointed to the difficulty in defining the play and the likely inconsistency of applying the rule as reasons why they are against it.
“League members of the NFL Competition Committee have indicated it is considering instituting a new playing rule prohibiting a tackling technique it described as the “hip-drop tackle.” Despite this intent, the NFL also acknowledged that they were having a difficult time defining a “hip-drop tackle.” While the players have consistently advocated for health and safety advancements, any prohibition on the “hip-drop tackle” technique is unfair to players and unrealistic to implement,” the statement said. “It places defensive players in an impossible position by creating indecision in the mind of any tackling player, puts officials in an unreasonable situation that will result in inconsistent calls on the field, and confuses our fans. We call on the NFL to reconsider implementing a rule prohibiting the ‘hip-drop tackle.'”
The Competition Committee meets to discuss rule changes at the annual league meetings and we’ll see what impact the players’ view has on how things play out.