Tackling another human being is not easy. A good little-league coach teaches a step-by-step approach of facemask up, chest-to-chest contact, wrap, grab cloth, and drive. However, a live ball carrier does not stand still. In order to tackle fully equipped ball carriers who sprint, slide, spin and shake, coaches usually instruct players to do their best to get their pad level low, wrap and head to the outside. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to add one more caveat: No slipping allowed. If a player falls off of an opposing player’s body and still makes the play on a lower part, that is known as the infamous “hip-drop tackle.”

During Goodell’s Wednesday press conference at the league ownership meetings he addressed what is being viewed as dangerous play. Judging from his own words, NFL defenders will need to be ready to let go of ball carriers in a split second come 2024.

“We all should work to get that out of the game,” Goodell said during a press conference. “You see it escalated in 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 also happening at other levels. [It’s] something I feel like we’ve got to work very hard to get that removed this spring.”

For the commissioner to voice that strong of an opinion during league ownership meetings, defensive position coaches had better start putting drills together for minicamp that will get players ready for the change. Also, A.J. Brown is about to lead the NFL yards-after-contact because no poor cornerback is going to be able to bring him down without slipping.

When the NFL banned the horse-collar tackle in 2005, that was done in the midst of great protest. The job of a defender is to get the offensive player down to the ground. If it requires snatching a player from behind the shoulder pads, then so be it.

It has been 18 years since that rule was put into place, and these days a fight will start over a blatant horse-collar tackle. The NFL claims it has data that shows injuries are 25 times more likely when a player is taken down by a hip-drop tackle.

Society may be less meat-headed about football in 2023 than it was in 2005, but this potential rule change feels extreme. It will leave defenders with zero room for error when attempting one of the most essential acts of the sport — tackling. Without that aspect of the game, football would not be entertaining enough to dominate the television ratings that way that it does currently.

That being said, the more healthy stars are on the field come playoff time, the better for viewers, investors and participants. Plus, these athletes are professionals. They are regularly asked to perform astounding feats with their bodies and get paid handsomely for their work.

For all of the different opinions on the hip-drop tackle, only one matters — Goodell’s. He has made it very clear that he wants to get rid of the play. Next season, defensive players will very likely have to learn how to slide off of tackles if they lose their grip, or slide right into a 15-yard penalty.

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