The NFL's health and safety officials are meeting with the league's competition committee this week, and one of their chief goals is eliminating the "hip-drop tackle" from the game, according to NFL Media. Executive Jeff Miller, who's addressed the tackle before, went so far as admitting it's his "hope" that rules will soon be changed to enact a ban starting in 2024.
What, exactly, is the hip-drop tackle? Which players have been affected by it? And will it actually be banned?
Here's everything you need to know:
What is the 'hip-drop tackle'?
There isn't an official definition, because until recently, no such designation existed. But NFL executives have loosely defined it as a tackle in which a defender "encircles the runner and then swings their weight" to fall on the offensive player, usually atop the player's legs. Basically, it's when someone uses their "dead weight" to drag or pin a player's lower body to the ground.
Which players have been injured by the tackle?
Dozens of players have seemingly sustained injuries on perceived "hip-drop tackles" in recent years, but two notable names intensified discussion of the technique in 2023: Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who didn't take a snap for the final five weeks of the season after suffering an ankle sprain in Week 13; and Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, who missed seven straight games after suffering an ankle injury and fibula fracture in Week 11.
Will the NFL actually ban the 'hip-drop'?
All indications are the league wants to -- and will -- eliminate it in the near future:
- Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL's competition committee, has called the tackle the "cousin" of the horse-collar tackle, which was eliminated ahead of the 2005 season, and fellow NFL exec Jeff Miller has suggested injuries are 25 times more likely on "hip-drop tackles" as opposed to other tackles.
- The NFL is currently working on how to properly define the tackle, admitting this offseason they are in the "rough, rough, rough drafting stages" of doing so.
- The NFL Players Association argued against a potential ban in March 2023, suggesting a rule change would put "defensive players in an impossible position by creating indecision" and causing confusion among both officials and fans. But the NFL has vetted rugby leagues with similar rules, per The Athletic, and figures to proceed with attempts to penalize the play.