Patriots safety says the quiet part out loud about new NFL rule change

Another rule change has defensive players asking more questions.
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

It's becoming an annual NFL event at this point: every offseason, the rules committee comes together after the season ends and decides how to make defensive players' lives even more difficult. Whether it's the type of blocks they're allowing, the definition of a defenseless player, or literally anything involving the quarterback, most of the rule changes – which are aimed at making the game safer – come at the expense of the guys who are paid to tackle.

This years? A ban on the type of tackle that's known as the "hip drop." Basically, that's when any defensive player approaches the ball carrier from behind – or the side – and wraps his arms around him, using dead weight to drop to the ground. The NFL claims it's one of the major causes of injury in today's game, mostly because of how often that defensive players' dead weight ends up causing leg injuries. There have been more than a few high profile example of injuries caused by hip drops in recent seasons, including to Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes.

Still, the rule change is seen by many as just another example of the NFL aimlessly trying to prevent injuries in an extremely physical sport, always at the expense of defensive players. This week, while speaking to local media, Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers didn't exactly hold back on his thoughts about the whole thing:

It's hard to blame Peppers for feeling that way, even if the heart of the rule change has players' safety in mind. It's less about removing the physicality from an inherently physical sport, and more about the (very legitimate) concern that NFL refs – who already don't have the best reputation – will make the call as arbitrarily as they do others. With so much focus spent on tackling a very specific way, and with how fast the game moves, it's easy to imagine a world where 'What's a hit drop?' becomes the new 'What's a catch?'

And if you think players are mad now, just wait until the press conferences after someone loses a game because of it.