New NFL rule: The NFL is eliminating the hip-drop tackle

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Rich McKay, left, Atlanta Falcons CEO, looks on as Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, addresses reporters about rules changes at the NFL owners meetings, in Orlando, Fla., on Monday.Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

NFL team owners on Monday unanimously approved a rule that bans players from using a swivel technique to tackle an opponent.

A violation will result in a 15-yard penalty and could ultimately result in fines for players.

NFL executive Jeff Miller said the hip-drop tackle was used 230 times last season and resulted in 15 players missing time with injuries.

The NFL Players Association has adamantly opposed the rule.

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“It doesn’t get used very often, but when it is used, it’s incredibly injurious to the runner,” NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said. “The runner is purely defenseless. And I have heard defenders say it before, and I hear them, ‘Hey, you’re putting me in a really tough spot. You’re saying I can’t hit here. What do I do?’ And my response has always been, ‘Well, you can’t do that, and that’s just because the guy you’re hitting is defenseless and has no way to protect himself.’ So we’ve got to protect him and you’ve got to come up with other ways, and you know what, they do.”

The league played a video during a news conference to show six specific plays in which the hip-drop tackle was used in games, with Bengals tight end Drew Sample, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith and Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill all being on the receiving end of the now-illegal hit.

NFL teams will continue to receive videos showing illegal hits and ways to make tackles within the rules.

“This is never practiced; nobody does this in practice,” McKay said. “They’re only going to see it in the game. We will tell them, ’Listen, this a penalty on the books. You can call it. You got to see all three elements of what’s going on here. You got to see him grab him. You got to see him control them. You got to see him swivel himself up in the air and you got to see him go unweighted. You don’t see it, don’t call it.

“We’re going to take all these tapes that you’ve seen. … we’re going to take them all to the clubs and show them: this is what we don’t want. This is what a foul looks like.”

A significant change to kickoffs wasn’t presented for a vote but McKay said it’s possible owners will consider it on Tuesday instead of waiting for the league meetings in May.

All rules proposals require 24 out of 32 votes for approval.

Only two other proposals were approved by owners.

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