The woeful New England Patriots lost to the slightly-less-woeful Los Angeles Chargers in a rainy slog of a game that didn’t see a single touchdown scored.
The 6-0 final score highlighted how event-less the game was — save for one curiously polarizing tackle early in the game.
In the first quarter, Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson was putting together the early makings of a good game when he racked up a quick 40 yards rushing on nine carries.
But on that ninth tote, Chargers linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu wrapped up Stevenson with a completely legal tackle that saw the Patriots running back land awkwardly and hurt his ankle. He would not return to the game.
You can watch what happened below:
Rhamondre Stevenson puts the ball on the ground and looks to have seriously injured that right leg. Oof. pic.twitter.com/VajMfMpv9D
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) December 3, 2023
So, if Stevenson was hurt on a legal play… why all the fuss about it on social media?
Well, the controversy of this injury stems from the tackling form of Tuipulotu, which is often described as a “hip-drop tackle.”
In short, it’s the kind of tackling where the tackler wraps an opposing player around the hips, and brings them down by dropping all of their own weight.
By the letter of the law, there’s nothing illegal with that tackle, but fans, players, and pundits alike have noticed that that tackling form seems to be producing more injuries than standard shoulder-first tackling.
A quick glance at social media shows that people are quite divided about the topic.
The hip drop tackle needs to be banned ASAP.
— Wildes (@kevinwildes) December 3, 2023
“The hip drop tackle needs to be banned ASAP,” noted Patriots fan and FS1 pundit Kevin Wildes posted to X.
“Hip Drop tackle has to go,” former NFL player Rich Ohrnberger posted to X.
“That Hip drop tackle sure is injuring a lot of players this year!!” former Patriot running back James White said on X.
According to The Athletic’s NFL reporter Ted Nguyen, the numbers back up the eye test, as he took to X to note that an “injury is 25x more likely to occur on a ‘hip-drop’ tackle” compared to a normal tackle.
That being said, not everyone wants to see the move banned.
One of the most vocal supporters of keeping the hip-drop tackle in the game is former NFL superstar Richard Sherman, who argued that banning that tackling form would turn the game into flag football.
One of the few times we do not agree. This is a result of the rules governing defenders and their attempts to take the crown of the helmet leading out of it. Wrapping a powerful runner up and attempting to bring him down without dropping your weight would result in defenders… https://t.co/dgq5OqrUXA pic.twitter.com/Y7XhCX4Ulp
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) November 17, 2023
“Wrapping a powerful runner up and attempting to bring him down without dropping your weight would result in defenders being dragged like sleds down the field,” Sherman said on X. “There is no way to police this out of the game without putting flags on them.”
Sherman and other supporters of the hip-drop tackle also argue that the move is a direct result of the NFL banning shots to the head, and players personally wanting to avoid going after other players’ knees and legs (torn knee ligaments and lower-leg tendons are a frequent season-ending injury in football.)
Other notable players injured in football this year include Baltimore Ravens star tight end Mark Andrews. In college, this tackling form actually injured Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis — an injury that seems to have created quite the controversy in the College Football Playoff selection.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.