The hip-drop tackle needs to go

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A year ago, not many people knew about the hip-drop tackle. Even now, not many do.

Far too many fans, current players, and former players don’t want to know. They just want to complain about rules changes that make it harder to play defense, without even trying to understand what it is and the risks it entails.

It’s not complicated. The defender grips the ball carrier with one or both hands, usually around the hips. The defender uses that grip to swing or rotate his body to a position behind or to the side of the ball carrier. The defender then drops the bulk of his body weight directly onto the ball carrier’s legs.

The technique entails an enhanced risk of injury. And multiple injuries have happened. Most recently, Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill suffered an ankle injury with a horse-collar/hip-drop hybrid.

Yes, the horse-collar tackle. It’s been banned for nearly 20 years, due to the risk of lower-body injuries. The NFL moved to outlaw it roughly five years before the league was forced by Congress to take head-trauma seriously.

The NFL has tried over the past two decades to make the game safer. The unique risks presented by the hip-drop tackle were detected last year. They are similar if not identical to the risks of the horse-collar tackle.

Earlier this year, offseason discussion did not result in the prohibition of the hip-drop tackle. Now, the league has made clear that it wants the hip-drop tackle banned.

Ultimately, it’s up to the owners. They’ll vote on it in March. Between now and then, the league office hopes that anyone and everyone with a vested interest in the best interests of the sport will realize that the injury risk compels the hip-drop to dropped like a hot potato.

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