January 27, 2023
Tony Pollard’s injury during the divisional round of the playoffs may inspire a rule change this offseason. The NFL’s Competition Committee is expected to discuss the mechanics of 49ers safety Jimmy Ward’s “hip drop” tackle of Pollard when it meets this offseason, according to The Washington Post.
The play resulted in Pollard suffering a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain. He underwent surgery shortly following the Cowboys‘ season-ending loss.
Pollard’s injury occurred a day after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain after being tackled in a similar manner. Fortunately for Mahomes and the Chiefs, the former league MVP did not suffer a season-ending injury and has been a full practice participant ahead of Sunday’s AFC title game rematch with Cincinnati.
In recent years, the NFL and its governing bodies have been trying to find ways to better protect players. The league has outlawed horse collar tackles and has focused on eliminating hits that could cause head injuries. The rules have made things harder for defenses, however, who have had to re-learn how to tackle while playing within the league’s new boundaries.
While player safety is a priority, the league also wants to ensure that its high-profile playoff games include the participation of the league’s top players. No one wants to watch games between backup players, which is already far too often the case given the physical nature of football coupled with the gauntlet of a 17-game regular season and extended postseason.
For any new rules to be made or adjusted, it would have to be passed by the league’s 32 owners. If presented by the Competition Committee, 24 owners would need to vote in favor of any rule adjustments regarding tackles like the one that ended Pollard’s 2022 season.