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NFL’s ban on controverisal ‘hip-drop tackle’ receives backlash: ‘There is no such thing’

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The NFL owners’ decision to unanimously vote to ban “hip-drop tackles” starting next season has the football world in an uproar. 

There were objections to the league creating a new 15-yard penalty, and a subsequent fine, for this controversial tackle. Yet, NFL Network reported it was a unanimous vote by all 32 owners to rid it from the league. 

A hip-drop tackle is when 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. It’s been a hot topic across the league, as the rate of injury when this tackle is performed is increased compared to traditional tackles. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has led the vote to ban the tackle, and the owners obliged. 

Since news broke of the rule, prominent names in football have voiced their displeasure, including former defensive end J.J. Watt.

“Just fast-forward to the belts with flags on them…,” Watt posted after news broke of the vote. Watt is implying the league is moving toward flag football instead of tackle here.

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There’s also former secondary man Emmanuel Acho, now an NFL analyst, who believes there is “no such thing” as a hip-drop tackle to begin with. 

“Imagine you’re trying to tackle Rob Gronkowski,” Acho said in a video posted to his X account. “How you going to do it? Unless you are directly in front of him, and he’s in front of you, you’ve got to find a way to bring him down. 

“We created this thing, the hip-drop tackle, to vilify something that’s just a tackle. The game of football has existed for roughly 100 years and all of a sudden there’s a ‘hip-drop tackle?’ There’s no such thing.”

Former player and head coach Tony Dungy said his piece as well.

“I’m all for player safety,” he said. “We need to make the game as safe as possible. And I must admit I don’t know what a ‘hip drop’ tackle is. Having played & coached defense I can tell you there is only one way to make a tackle from behind without dropping your weight-which could be worse.”

Derrick Brown rushes the passer

ESPN’s Pat McAfee brought up the tackle on his show Monday as well, saying, “We’re putting more subjective calls on the refs,” meaning it’s at the referee’s discretion in real time if the tackle is legal or not.

His counterpart on the show, former linebacker A.J. Hawk, said, “Nobody has ever been taught what a hip drop tackle is.” But teams will have to be wary about how their players are tackling on game day. 

There are some former players, though, who like the decision.

“I’m happy the hip drop tackle is outta the game,” former offensive tackle Kyle Long tweeted. “I’m all for the league trying to minimize the potential for serious injury. This league has a 100 percent rate of injury but the hip drop tends to be the cause of injuries that are harder to come back from. Good job NFL”

Long also said he spoke to former tight end Delanie Walker, who told him his career was cut short due to a hip-drop tackle causing injury. 

JJ Watt

Whether current or former players and coaches like the rule or not, it was voted in to be enforced next season. We’ll see exactly how referees go about enforcing the rule come September. 

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