Horse-Collar Tackle Rule is Full of Dun


The pending suspension of Roy Williams for the alleged horse-collar tackle of Donovan McNabb on Sunday has a few of the NFL’s best defensive players on edge.

And rightly so.

The rule, created because of Williams’ season-ending tackle of Terrell Owens in 2004, is a bit over the top.

First, I don’t think that was an illegal tackle Sunday. Clearly, Williams grabs the top-middle of McNabb’s jersey and pulls him down. It appears to me that McNabb did a bit of persuasive theater when he fell to the ground, knowing Williams was making the tackle. But the revamped NFL rule, in 2005, makes any tackle reasonably close to this illegal. The rule states that “grabbing the back of the jersey is a horse collar tackle.” The vote was 25-7 in favor.

That rule is so ridiculous. But, that isn’t coming out of my mouth. This article  has some comments from Pittsburgh safety Chris Hope:

“It’s another sign of the NFL wanting to see the offense make all the big plays and score all the touchdowns,” said Hope, who’s built a reputation as a big hitter. “It’s kind of hard to be thinking about how you’re going to tackle a guy, being that most safeties are aggressive. Roy Williams, myself, Troy Polamalu, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins – most of us are aggressive guys by nature and you already have to watch for the head-on-head collisions. If a receiver gets ahead of you, how are you supposed to tackle him? Do you have to smack him down or hold him and tackle him from the front of his waist? Most strong receivers, like Terrell Owens, you can’t take down like that, so you have to put your weight on him and find ways to get him down.”

I am not overly upset that Williams is suspended for a game. I am just concerned that the rule is unevenly applied in the NFL. It’s based on judgment, not science. I tend to agree with Chris Hope. The NFL is a dangerous game. Tackling at the legs or chop tackling are far more dangerous than these types of tackles. This rule gives an unfair advantage to a receiver who is ahead of the defender. All one needs to do is a bit of Donovan theater when falling down and a yellow flag comes a-flyin’!

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Tags: Chris Hope Donovan McNabb Horse-collar Tackle Roy Williams

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