JJ Watt likens NFL ban on hip-drop tackles to tag football as players sound controversial rule change
JJ Watt likens NFL ban on hip-drop tackles to tag football as players sound controversial rule change

The NFL banned the hip-drop tackle by a unanimous vote of team owners Monday in a controversial decision the league said would improve player safety.

The rule change immediately sparked passionate reactions from former and current players.

Detractors of the decision argue that the rule will fundamentally change the way the game is played for the worse and further skews the rules in favor of offenses as the league protects its most marketable players.

The NFLPA rejected the proposal in a statement last week before the vote, arguing that the change “causes confusion for us as players, for coaches, for officials and especially for fans.”

NFL Competition Committee Executive Vice President Jeff Miller argued in favor of the ban in October, saying hip-drop tackles lead to “about 25 times the injury rate of a typical tackle.” That argument ultimately won out, as owners officially voted to ban the technique at league meetings in Orlando on Monday.

JJ Watt led the response to critical players

Players weighed in after Monday’s vote, with many joining the NFLPA’s critical stance. Retired three-time Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt was among them. He likened the ban on football marking to social media.

Kenya’s Drake — injured in 21 — among supporters of the rule

While player reaction was largely critical of the decision, it wasn’t unanimous. Two offensive players, including running back Kenyan Drake, were among the supporters of the rule. Drake suffered a fractured ankle in a scrimmage in 2021 and called for a change in the handling rules then. He came out in support of the rule change on Monday.

Retired Pro Bowler Kyle Long also supported the change and the league’s efforts to “minimize the potential for serious injury.”

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took a two-pronged approach.

But most of the reaction from players on social media was not in favor of the change, with the most vocal opponents being prominent former and current defenders.

Like it or not, there is no change to the new rule now. At least not for the upcoming season. If implemented as planned, the rule aims to reduce the risk of injury in violent play. He also plans to change the way the game is played and watched on Sundays.

Get ready for more hotly debated penalty flags as the league, its players and officials adjust to the sea changes.

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