NFL owners approve ban of swivel hip-drop tackle

NFL owners have approved a rule proposal to ban the swivel hip-drop tackle, the league announced Monday.

The violation will result in a 15-yard penalty if flagged in games, but Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, strongly implied last week that it is likely to be enforced similarly to the “use of helmet” rule, which typically leads to warning letters and fines in the week after a game rather than flags during play.

The proposal was written to address only a subset of the rugby tackling style that has spread around the NFL in recent years, competition committee chairman Rich McKay said last week.

The tackling technique often results in lower-body injuries. The rule requires officials to note two actions: If a defender “grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms” and also “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 NFL Players Association joined many current and former players in objecting to the proposal last week. In a statement posted to social media, the NFLPA said the rule would cause confusion among players, coaches, officials and fans.

On Monday, former player J.J. Watt was among those expressing displeasure with the owners’ vote on the tackling technique, posting to X, “Just fast forward to the belts with flags on them…”

Current players also weighed in on X, including the Detroit Lions’ DJ Reader, Philadelphia Eagles’ Darius Slay and the Miami Dolphins’ Jevon Holland:

NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller said there were 230 instances of the tackling technique occurring during a game last season with 15 players missing time as a result.

In addition, two other proposals were approved:

  • Teams will receive a third challenge following one successful challenge. Previously, teams had to be successful on two challenges to receive a third. The proposal was submitted by the Detroit Lions.

  • A major foul by the offense will be enforced before a change of possession in situations where there are fouls by both teams.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.

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