League shrugs at NFLPA’s resistance to hip-drop ban

The NFL is determined to ban the hip-drop tackle. The NFL Players Association is opposed to it. The NFL is basically ignoring the union’s position as, put simply, predictable and consistent.

“I’ve been in that position before as a leader of the Player’s Association involved in many of the meetings,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent said during a Thursday conference call with reporters regarding the proposal rule changes. “There’s always going to be resistance from the player when you talk about removing things. There’s going to be resistance, and I respect that. There was resistance in removing the blindside block. There was resistance removing the crackback block. There was resistance removing the attack block. There was resistance removing the horse collar. Again, I mentioned it earlier in the opening, durability and availability is the number one and two aspect for any professional athlete and particularly with football players. I have a technique that causes 20 to 25-percent injury rate when it occurs. I respect their position, but as gatekeepers of the game . . . this is something that we have to remove.

“The intent is not to throw more flags, but the intent is to examine during the week and remove that style of play. The latter part of that is I would love and we always include player feedback, player involvement. It’s a complete player-driven, we believe, a player-driven and coach-driven league. The more player involvement, the more informed we are in
decisions. Lastly, I would just say, it’s so important for we as former players and many are involved leading that charge with the co-chairs of our player safety committee, led by Ronnie Lott and Curtis Martin, Orlando Page and that group, it is a phenomenal group that we all agree with this, and we want to protect these young men from unnecessary risk. . . . We respect their position, but I have a 20 to 25X injury rate. It’s hard for us at the National Football League to walk out of a room and not address it.”

During the call, it became unclear whether the risk of injury to 20- to 25-percent higher or 20 to 25 times greater. The league clarified that it’s the latter. Even if there are questions about the methodology and accuracy of the formula that led to that number, it’s so high that it can’t be ignored.

And the numbers don’t really matter. We’ve seen what happens when a defender grabs the ballcarrier, twists, drops, and lands on the ballcarrier’s leg. The league first noticed the dynamic when exploring the source of high-ankle sprains. The hip-drop tackle causes that injury, and worse. The foot gets caught in an awkward position and the defender falls on the foot and lower leg.

Really, why would the union be against protecting players from this type of avoidable injury? Why would fans react so negatively to it?

To those fans who are now screaming that they should just play flag football, think of it this way. What can unfettered hip-drop tackles do to your fantasy team?

Although fantasy football and player-prop betting tends to dehumanize players, this is a way to get fans to steer their own self-interest toward keeping the games running backs, receivers, tight ends, and running quarterbacks healthy.

Really, what do those players think about their union refusing to protect them? This rule protects them from a dangerous technique that has emerged in recent years.

We know it when we see it. Grab, twist, fall. Grab, twist, fall. Football already has enough risks without the risks of an offensive player having his foot get stuck under the weight of a defensive player who basically gets his arms around the ballcarrier and falls down.

The NFL is determined to take that technique out of the game. Regardless of what the union or a loud minority of fans say. By early next week, it will most likely be gone from the game.

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