Retired Australian rugby player and Fox League expert Matty Johns has come out in support of potential changes to tackling techniques in the NFL. Drawing from his experience in the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, where the controversial “hip-drop tackle” was banned due to the high number of injuries it caused, Johns strongly believes that a similar change needs to be implemented in the NFL.
The hip-drop tackle involves a defensive player using their body weight on the legs of the ball carrier, often used by smaller players to take down bigger opponents. However, this tackle has already resulted in injuries to notable NFL players such as Mark Andrews, Geno Smith, and Tyreek Hill. The NFL’s executive vice president of communications has stated that the injury rate for this particular tackle is 25 times higher than other methods.
Acknowledging that implementing this change will not be easy, Johns recalls the resistance that the NRL faced when they banned the hip-drop tackle and enforced automatic suspensions for its use. However, Johns firmly believes that this change will lead to improved defensive techniques and a significant reduction in injuries and career-threatening incidents.
Some NFL players and coaches have criticized the potential ban, arguing that it takes toughness out of the sport. However, Johns counters these claims by stating that the aim is to reduce injuries and lengthen players’ careers, not to make the game less physical or “go soft.” He suggests that the NFL needs to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for the hip-drop tackle, regardless of intent.
Discussion surrounding this potential change continues to escalate, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed his desire to eliminate this tackle from the game. As the debate unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the NFL will follow in the footsteps of the NRL and ban the controversial hip-drop tackle. In the meantime, experts like Matty Johns continue to emphasize the importance of player safety and the need for proactive measures to reduce injuries in the game.