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The NFL has taken steps to eliminate the hip-drop tackle, with team owners unanimously approving a rule banning players from using a swivel technique to tackle opponents. Violation of this rule will result in a 15-yard penalty and potential fines for players. NFL executive Jeff Miller noted that the hip-drop tackle was used 230 times last season and resulted in 15 players missing time due to injuries. The NFL Players Association has opposed the rule, but the league is focused on protecting runners who are defenseless against this type of tackle.

During a news conference, the NFL showcased specific plays featuring the now-illegal hip-drop tackle, involving players such as Drew Sample, Tony Pollard, Tyler Boyd, Geno Smith, and Ryan Tannehill. The league aims to educate teams on the illegal hits and provide guidance on making tackles within the rules. The competition committee emphasized that this type of tackle is not practiced in training and only occurs in games. Teams will receive videos demonstrating what constitutes an illegal hit and how to avoid it in the future.

While a significant change to kickoffs was not presented for a vote, it remains a possibility for consideration by team owners at a future meeting. The new kickoff rule proposal incorporates elements from leagues like the XFL, aiming to make kickoffs safer for players. Under the proposed rule, kickoffs would be conducted from the 35-yard line, with specific formations and restrictions for both kicking and return teams. The hope is that the new kickoff rules will impact the way teams approach player selections in the upcoming NFL draft.

Additional rule changes approved by owners include allowing teams a third challenge following one successful challenge, and addressing double fouls during a down with a change of possession. The latter rule ensures that the team last gaining possession will retain the ball after enforcement for its foul, as long as they did not commit a foul prior to gaining possession. The urgency to vote on the new kickoff rule this week stems from its potential impact on team strategies and player selections during the NFL draft.

NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay stressed the importance of protecting defenseless runners and ensuring that players adhere to the rules regarding tackling techniques. The league’s focus is on promoting player safety and reducing the risk of injuries resulting from dangerous tackles. By implementing these new rules and guidelines, the NFL aims to create a safer playing environment for all athletes and ensure fair competition on the field.

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