The NFL’s controversial hip-drop tackles have a staunch defender: the NFLPA.
During a press conference on Wednesday, players on the players’ association executive committee spoke on a number of topics about the league, and the hip-drop tackle — when a player uses their body weight on the legs of the ball carrier by leading with his hip — was among those discussed.
Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler went as far as to say that if the NFL banned the type of tackle, that it would be “detrimental” to the sport.
“Yeah, I think it really compromises the quality of the game on multiple levels,” Ekeler said, per The Athletic. “Just the officials and that you’re putting another gray area call for them. ‘Was that, or was it not?’ And then it’s a 15-yard penalty, but maybe it was, and maybe it wasn’t. And are their fines associated with it?. … It’s part of football.
“Like, you’re tackling people, there’s your body’s going to get twisted and turned all over the place and it’s because you kind of just, you lay out and you go out at full speed, both guys going with a lot of energy. So, I think it’s honestly detrimental to the game if they try to go forward with this.”
Ekeler’s comments come after some — including retired Australian rugby great and Fox League expert Matty Johns — called for the NFL to ban the hip-drop tackle after it was put under the microscope following a number of injuries.
Notably, Ravens tight end Mark Andrews suffered an ankle injury in Week 11 when Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson took him down with a hip-drop tackle.
Andrews missed the rest of the regular season but did make a return to the Baltimore lineup for the AFC title game.
Even before the Andrews injury, the NFL in October said it was exploring banning the controversial tackle, the Associated Press reported then.
But Falcons defensive end Calais Campbell, who is also on the executive committee, questioned how the league would even go about actually stopping the tackle or what the means would be to actually enforce it.
“I don’t understand how you can police it the right way and allow us to do our job,” Campbell said, per ESPN. “At the end of the day, it’s like, how do you tackle a guy?”