IRVING, Tex. — The NFL intends to ban the hip-drop tackle this offseason, Commissioner Roger Goodell and another top league official said at Wednesday’s one-day owners meetings.
NFL health and safety officials and the league’s competition committee considered such a prohibition last offseason on the technique whereby the tackler grabs the ballcarrier, spins around the ball carrier’s body and falls on the back of the ball carrier’s legs. The NFL took no action then.
But Goodell and Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, said at a one-day meeting of NFL team owners at a Dallas-area resort Wednesday that they plan for action to be taken on the issue during the upcoming offseason.
“We all should work to get that out of the game,” Goodell said at a news conference following the meeting. “You see it escalated the number of times it occurred this season. The injury can be very devastating. We saw that also. It’s not just happening at the NFL level. It’s happening at other levels. It’s something that I feel we’ve got to work very hard to get that removed this spring.”
League officials have cited an injury rate for the technique that is 25 times higher than that for other tackles. Hip-drop tackles have resulted in some high-profile injuries in recent weeks to Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
“We have to now,” Vincent said of a potential ban. “A year ago when we actually brought the hip drop or the version of the tackle that we were seeing on the video, there were some clubs who had no clue what we were thinking, what we were talking about …. It’s a gruesome play.”
League leaders previously said they were likely to ban hip-drop tackles once they could properly define the technique. On that issue, Vincent said Wednesday: “It is the grip. It’s the rotate and the drop. Those three mechanics show up on that play.”
Health and safety leaders addressed owners Wednesday, telling them that the NFL’s priorities during offseason rule-change deliberations will include addressing hip-drop tackles, kickoffs and the push-the-quarterback play popularized by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of a prospective ban on the Eagles’ quarterback push, Goodell said: “I haven’t taken a position on that one.”
NFL officials have said they are studying prospective solutions to the kickoff as they attempt to keep that play in the sport while addressing its high injury rate. Last offseason, the owners ratified a rule proposed by the competition committee allowing for what amounts to a touchback on a kickoff for any fair catch made by the receiving team inside the 25-yard line.
That measure was called temporary, and was approved on only a one-year basis. It has reduced the number of concussions suffered by players on kickoffs, NFL officials have said. But it also has resulted in less than 20 percent of kickoffs being returned.
“It’s a dead, ceremonial play today,” Vincent said. “But this is where we’ll work with the special teams coaches, head coaches …. It was a one-year-only rule that we need to address.”
Said Goodell: “We’ll continue to focus on special teams and trying to address the kickoff. We believe that the foot is an important part of the game and kickoff returns are an exciting play. We see it at 20 percent this year. We’d like to see that higher. But we also want to make sure that the injury rate is addressed. And so we’re going to have to innovate. We’re going to have to be smart.”
Vincent said the league and the competition committee also will study the rule that awards possession of the ball via a touchback when the ball goes out the end zone on a fumble by the offense.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Vincent said. “But the handful of plays, many believe that we’ve made it too punitive.”
Goodell defended the NFL’s officiating and did so in particularly forceful terms when it came to the offensive offside call made against the Kansas City Chiefs in their loss Sunday to the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.
“I find it a little ironic when you say attention on officiating when I think almost everybody to my knowledge is acknowledging that the officials got it absolutely correct,” Goodell said. “That’s their job, to call it where there’s a foul. There was no question about that foul. It was absolutely the right call. If you don’t call that, obviously we would have been subject or our officials would have been subject to criticism also.”
The Chiefs were penalized when wide receiver Kadarius Toney lined up offside, nullifying what would have been a memorable go-ahead touchdown late in the game when quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s pass found tight end Travis Kelce, who then threw an overhand lateral across the field to Toney. Mahomes and Chiefs Coach Andy Reid were critical of the call following the game. Mahomes said in a radio interview Tuesday he regretted his conduct on the sideline and after the game in an exchange with Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
“We all understand our officials are second-guessed,” Goodell said. “I’ve said it many times to you before: They are not perfect. No human being is. But the reality is they do an extraordinary job. As I said, I find it ironic that I’m standing here answering a question about, ‘The officials got it right,’ and they’re being criticized. I think it shows you how difficult it is to do their job.”
Super Bowl awarded to L.A.
The owners awarded the 2027 Super Bowl to Los Angeles.
That was the next available Super Bowl, with the game set to be played in Las Vegas next year, in New Orleans in 2025 and in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2026.
It will be the second Super Bowl played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
The Rams won the Super Bowl on their home field in February 2022, capping a championship run in which General Manager Les Snead and Coach Sean McVay famously took a seize-the-moment approach by trading future draft choices for prominent veteran players.
“We can’t wait to deliver another wonderful Super Bowl,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said Wednesday. “And I’ll go home and tell Sean and Les it’s time to start trading away picks so we can win another Super Bowl in 2027 in our building again.”
Goodell said he’s hopeful that the minority hiring gains that the NFL has made with team presidents and general managers will translate into similar success with head coaches.
Only one Black head coach was hired last offseason among five. That was DeMeco Ryans by the Houston Texans.
“If I knew the answer to that, we’d fix it,” Goodell said. “The reality is what we have to do is do the kinds of things we’re doing that I think are producing results in other areas. I’m confident clubs are focused on this and the processes that we’re all putting in place both at the club level and the league level will bear fruit and the opportunities will come to people who deserve them.”