NFL star George Kittle shares 'biggest concern' with controversial hip-drop tackle rule

The NFL will be enforcing a new rule next season to improve player safety, banning the “hip-drop tackle.” 

It’s a rule that’s received tons of backlash from players, both current and former, who believe it will significantly hamper the way defenders tackle opponents. 

The controversial tackle occurs where a defender wraps the ball carrier with his hands or arms and then drops their hips, causing the ball carrier’s legs and feet to become trapped. 

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, a hard man to take down on the field, shared his own thoughts regarding the rule, which will result in a 15-yard penalty when enforced. As an offensive player, it will benefit him when it’s called, but he does have a big concern. 


George Kittle tackled

George Kittle (85) of the San Francisco 49ers runs after making a catch during the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

“When you watch football, that tackle injures people, I just don’t think, very often,” he told Fox News Digital. “My biggest concern from it is that tackle probably happens a lot, and people bounce up. And no one thinks twice about it. What I just don’t want to have happen is multiple penalties are getting called in situations where a penalty doesn’t need to be called.”

Others agree with Kittle, especially considering referees will need to call the tackle in real time. And when it’s crunch time, could a discretionary call affect wins or losses? 

It could also slow games down with a third replay challenge also being approved at the NFL owners meetings.


NFL executive Jeff Miller said hip-drop tackles occurred 230 times last season, up 65% from the previous year. Fifteen players missed time following the tackle due to injury. 

“I get it. Those injuries are tough, and I don’t really know how to stop it,” Kittle said. “I don’t know how to tell defenders how to tackle, especially when a guy is running away from you, and you have to dive from the side. I’m not entirely sure what you want defenders to do, but I know the league is trying to do things to keep players safe. So, I think it’s going to have to be a healthy conversation of when to make the call and when not to make the call so it’s not a penalty-filled game.”

Detroit Lions star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown admits defenders will have it harder next season. 

“I feel for the players that do play defense because I feel like they’re not trying to hip-drop tackle,” he told Fox News Digital. “It just kind of happens naturally. As an offensive player, I’ve seen dudes get hurt in games. I’ve seen it on TV. It’s definitely a dangerous tackle as an offender when you have the ball in your hand and someone does tackle like that. 

“As a football player, when I’m watching the plays, I can tell it’s going to be a dangerous tackle before he even falls. So, I understand what the league is doing.”

Amon-Ra St. Brown tackled

Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) of the Detroit Lions catches a pass during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game at Levi’s Stadium Jan. 28, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Being an offensive player, Kittle isn’t going to complain if his team gets an extra 15 yards on top of what was already gained. But there’s also a chance he’s on the sideline and his teammate is flagged for the illegal tackle. 

“I’m pretty sure I’ve been tackled like that a handful of times, and I didn’t even notice it. Next time I get tackled like that and I hop right back up and there’s a penalty flag for 15 yards, I’ll be like, ‘Well, that’s convenient for me, but I don’t really know what the guy did wrong,'” he explained. 

“So, they’re going to have to continuely look at it, see when to throw the flag, when not to throw the flag because, at the end of the day, we’re playing football. The point of the game is to score touchdowns and get tackles. We’ll just have to see where the balance is.”

The NFL has heard complaints about rule changes in the past, but the league gets used to them. Players, coaches and fans adapt for player safety, whether it’s no longer leading with the helmet or a defender not dropping full body weight on quarterbacks during hits. 

Kittle hopes this rule doesn’t drastically change the game. 

“I think there’s been adjustments made before where people are up in arms about [something], and it ended up being not that big of a deal. I’m hoping it’s one of those things where [the flag] is where it needs to be called, and when it doesn’t need to be called, they let it go.”

George Kittle looks on field

George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers during pregame warmups before the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)


“I’m glad they’re trying to protect the players,” St. Brown said. “It’s kinda tough as a defender to not try to bring someone down, and in the back of your mind say, ‘Oh, I can’t hip drop tackle.’ At the same time, it does protect the player safety, and I play offense. They’re protecting us, I’m happy.”

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