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NFL bans hip-drop tackle 14 months after Tony Pollard injury

NFL bans hip-drop tackle 14 months after Tony Pollard injury

The NFL’s owners have taken a step toward what they believe will be a safer game, but the decision is sure to cause uncertainty during play this season and has already caused an uproar among players and fans.

The so-called “hip-drop” tackle will be illegal starting in 2024, according to reports coming out of the league meetings in Orlando. The controversial technique was a talking point of major emphasis all of last season after several players suffered severe injuries as a result of its use on the field.

Cowboys running back Tony Pollard was the victim of a hip-drop tackle in the January 2023 playoff loss to San Francisco, carted off with a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain.

Owners unanimously voted Monday to ban the tackle beginning in 2024. For the purposes of officiating, a hip-drop tackle is defined as one in which a player “grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms” and then “unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s leg(s) at or below the knee.”

The competiton committee reportedly showed owners a video montage of hip-drop tackles in which the Pollard play was featured prominently. The committee’s Rich McKay said that after reviewing film of 20,000 tackles, the hip-drop technique was shown to have resulted in an injury rate “20 times the others.”

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The NFLPA had already come out in opposition of the ban, calling it too difficult to enforce with any consistency. While the on-the-field penalty for the technique will be a loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down, it is believed that the league will largely attempt to enforce the new rule through monetary fines for guilty players after the fact.

Many players, coaches, analysts, and longtime football traditionalists have called the move to ban the hip-drop tackle a softening of the game, something many said about the horse-collar tackle technique that was similarly outlawed in 2005 after a rash of injuries during the 2004 season, when Cowboys safety Roy Williams used the move frequently.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire