In a recent press conference, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent announced that the league is gearing up for two significant rule changes during the upcoming offseason. The first change involves a potential ban on hip-drop tackles, a move prompted by the increasing number of serious injuries incurred by major stars in recent seasons.
Addressing reporters, Goodell expressed the urgency of eliminating hip-drop tackles from the game, emphasizing the potential devastation caused by such plays. He noted the escalating frequency of these tackles during the current season, extending the concern to various levels of play beyond the NFL. Vincent echoed these sentiments, labeling hip-drop tackles as “gruesome” and emphasizing the collective effort required to eradicate them from the sport.
Several high-profile injuries, including Baltimore Ravens’ Mark Andrews and Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Pollard, were highlighted as instances where hip-drop tackles led to significant harm. This type of tackle occurs when a defender pulls down a ball carrier by their upper body while simultaneously dropping all their weight onto the offensive player’s legs, often resulting in serious injuries due to awkward angles.
Vincent also disclosed that the league is exploring the possibility of eliminating the controversial rule regarding fumbles out of the end zone. Currently, such fumbles are considered touchbacks, awarding possession to the defense. The rule has faced scrutiny due to inconsistencies with fumbles out of bounds anywhere else, where possession remains with the offense.
The announcement comes as a response to the increased prominence of hip-drop tackles, exacerbated by changes in tackling rules aimed at reducing head injuries. Officials reported a 25 times higher injury rate associated with hip-drop tackles compared to other tackling methods.
The proposed rule changes signify the NFL’s commitment to player safety and fairness in the game. As discussions continue, the league aims to strike a balance between preserving the integrity of the sport and safeguarding the well-being of its athletes. Stay tuned for further updates on these potential groundbreaking rule changes as the NFL heads into the offseason.