Skip to main content
New York Giants homepage

Giants News | New York Giants –

John Mara talks NFL rule changes: Hip-drop ban gets 'very strong' support


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The NFL has dropped the hip-drop, with John Mara's strong support.

The Giants' president and CEO is a 24-year member of the NFL Competition Committee, which considers player health and safety as its most important priority. This year, the committee's discussions on the subject were dominated by the hip-drop tackle, which occurs when a defender wraps up a ballcarrier, swivels his hips, and drops onto the ballcarrier's legs.

The play has been responsible for a disproportionate number of injuries, many of them serious and long-term.

At the league's annual meeting in March, NFL executive vice president Jeff Miller said the league reviewed 230 instances of the hip-drop tackle last season and the maneuver resulted in an injury rate 20 to 25 times greater than other tackles. Of those tackles, 15 players missed time due to injury because of the tackle. Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Seattle quarterback Geno Smith and Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews were among the players who were hurt on hip-drop tackles.

At the meetings, the committee recommended the hip-drop be eliminated and the 32 team owners voted unanimously to adopt the measure.

"I felt very strong that we had to change that just based on the seriousness of the injuries that were occurring," Mara said. "It appeared to me that players were getting better at that particular tactic. It was becoming more and more part of the game, and that was not a trend that we were comfortable with."

The primary objectors to the rule change were the defensive players who used the controversial tackle.

"We had the usual outcry from certain players that you're making it too difficult for us to do our jobs, and it's going to be more and more difficult to tackle players," Mara said. "That happens every time we make a rule based on health and safety. What ends up happening is that players always adjust. They're tremendous athletes, they'll get used to it, they'll adjust to it. Hopefully, we'll get that tactic out of the game.

"We talked for a while about, can we just coach it out of the game? That was never going to work unless you make it illegal. The tactic was just going to be used more and more. Players were getting better at it, and we did not like the results. This is all based on health and safety. Our only goal here was to protect players."

Mara said the committee watched tape of "a lot" of hip-drop tackles, many of them multiple times.

"It's not a pretty sight," Mara said. "It was causing serious injuries, and in many cases, there was no reason for it, but the defender had learned to use that tactic effectively to get the runner down. It just was not something we were comfortable continuing with. I think in the first year, you're not going to see a lot of flags on it, because the officials hopefully will take the view that they're not going to call it unless they're absolutely certain that they see it. However, if it's picked up by the league office during the week, there will be discipline imposed. I think that's the best way to start with this particular rule change."

Penalties will be called when a defender lifts himself in the air before falling on the ballcarrier's leg.

"That's where you get the high-ankle sprains and the knee sprains, some of which were pretty serious last year," Mara said.

To commemorate their 100th season, the New York Giants today unveiled a "Century Red" uniform, which the team will wear for up to two games in 2024.

*The owners also gave coaches a third challenge if at least one of his first two are successful. Coaches were previously limited to two replay requests a game.

"That was something Detroit kept pushing," Mara said. "I was initially opposed to that. I'm sitting in the front of the room and (Lions head coach) Dan Campbell, who I have a lot of respect for, is making a plea for that. I'm looking at the back of the room when I see (Giants coach) Brian Daboll nodding his head. He was really in favor of it, also. So, I weakened and voted for it, and I was the deciding vote. So, we'll see how it works."

Former New England coach Bill Belichick consistently lobbied to make all plays challengeable.

"I've never agreed with that, and I think the committee has never agreed with that," Mara said. "Replay was never intended to fix every single call. I think it just delays the game too much."

*The Competition Committee also discussed a play that seems to be increasingly unpopular, when an offensive player fumbles a ball into the end zone that goes out of bounds, resulting in a touchback.

"We discussed it at the committee level, and I think I was one of the few people who was in favor of changing that rule," Mara said. "I just never liked the idea that if the ball gets fumbled inside the one-yard line out of bounds the offense keeps it, but if it hits the pylon, or goes just inside the pylon, it ends up being a touchback. To me, that never made any sense, but there wasn't a lot of support for it. So, I wasn't going to die on the sword on that one."

*Fans who attend games and enjoy watching the chains being brought onto the field to measure if a gain was enough yardage for a first down might want to take a video of that traditional ritual.

"(The committee had) a lot of discussion about the future of football where at some point we're going to have these optical tracking cameras that are going to be able to tell you whether you got a first down or not, as opposed to the chain gang," Mara said. "At some point the chain gang is going to be eliminated, which I think will be a sad day for me, a traditionalist. But let's face it, in this day and age, there's no reason why we can't use technology.

"It will also help the officials spot the ball. You'll be able to tell more precisely where the ballcarrier ended up and where the ball was when he was tackled."

View photos of the New York Giants' 2024 active roster as it currently stands.


Single Game Tickets

Limited 2024 single game tickets are available now