‘Hip-Drop’ Tackles Are Nothing Malicious According To T.J. Watt: ‘We’re Never Trying To Hurt Somebody’

hip-drop tackle Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt jumped on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday, continuing his media tour in Phoenix, Arizona in lead up for Super Bowl 57 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.

Watt spoke to McAfee and former LB A.J. Hawk about this past season as well as his brothers and their relationship growing up and now as adults. Watt was later asked about the controversial ‘hip-drop’ tackle that the NFL is considering banning from the game. Injuries to Kanas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard during the playoffs have sparked discussions from medical professionals about the possibility of making this type of tackle illegal and subject to penalty.

“It’s tough, because as an edge defender, you’re often chasing plays down from the backside and you have to lay out and you can’t possibly run through the tackle,” Watt responded on the Pat McAfee Show. “So, you have to kind of just grab on and fall down as best as you can. So, I don’t know. Nothing is malicious. I mean, at the end of the day, we all respect each other in this league and we’re never trying to hurt somebody. Injuries are the absolute worst thing for the game. Obviously, they happen, but never want to be a part of a guy that’s causing someone else to be injured.”

Fellow Steelers teammate Cam Heyward recently spoke on the ‘hip-drop’ tackle as well on Twitter, calling the potential of banning the tackle technique “stupid” as defenders need to get offensive players down to the ground somehow.

Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game of contact football. I thought Alex Kozora put it best in a recent edition of The Terrible Podcast where he said that every precaution needs to be taken to prevent head and neck injuries in the form of concussions, but other physical injuries are going to be a part of the game if tackle football is still played. While I am all for player safety and protecting the health and livelihood of players in the NFL, the risk of injury should come with the territory for anyone signing up to play a contact sport at the highest level.

Watt made it known that he and other defenders aren’t intentionally trying to hurt offensive players on tackle attempts (sans the Bountygate Saints scandal over a decade ago). However, they must get ballcarriers down to the ground somehow, and with the game so heavily skewed to the offense already, playing defense is becoming more difficult with every passed change to the rules. We shall see if the NFL’s competition committee elects to make the hip-drop tackle illegal later this spring. HC Mike Tomlin can represent the Steelers as a member of the committee, but unfortunately for Watt and Heyward, they must sit and wait to see if their respective jobs get even harder to do in 2023 and beyond.

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