NFL owners vote to ban controversial hip-drop tackle

ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners on Monday unanimously voted to ban the hip-drop tackle, a controversial technique that league officials said is hazardous to players.

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Team owners announced the move at their annual league meeting in Orlando, Florida, The Athletic reported. The ban had been proposed by the NFL Competition Committee but was opposed by the NFL Players Association, along with many current and former players, according to ESPN.

A swivel hip-drop tackle will result in a 15-yard penalty during games and possible fines after the contests, The Washington Post reported.

Such tackles now will be subject to 15-yard penalties during games and potential fines afterward.

According to, a hip-drop tackle takes place when a player:

  • Grabs a runner with both hands/arms while attempting to make a tackle;
  • “Unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body”;
  • And then lands on and traps the runner’s leg(s) at or below the knee.

If a player brings his opponent to the ground by performing the first two steps but does not land on the player’s legs or feet, the tackle will be legal, according to The Athletic.

The hip-drop tackle has become more prevalent as players try to avoid using their helmets while making tackles, a technique that leads to penalties and increases the risk of player concussions, the news outlet reported.

NFL executive Jeff Miller said the hip-drop tackle was used 230 times last season, according to The Associated Press. It led to 15 players missing time with injuries.

Last season, Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews suffered a serious injury when Cincinnati Bengals linebacker used a hip-drop tackle during a game on Nov. 16, ESPN reported.

“It doesn’t get used very often, but when it is used, it’s incredibly injurious to the runner,” NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay told reporters. “The runner is purely defenseless. And I have heard defenders say it before, and I hear them, ‘Hey, you’re putting me in a really tough spot. You’re saying I can’t hit here. What do I do?’ And my response has always been, ‘Well, you can’t do that, and that’s just because the guy you’re hitting is defenseless and has no way to protect himself.’

“So we’ve got to protect him and you’ve got to come up with other ways, and you know what, they do.”

Former NFL quarterback and current broadcaster Robert Griffin III tweeted that “it’s only a matter of time before football as we know it, is just physical flag football.”

McKay said that every team will receive educational videos that will show players the differences between league hip-drop tackles and the illegal swivel hip-drop tackle