NFL Rules on Kerby Joseph Controversial Tackle

Player Safety Concerns Take Center Stage in NFL Drama

by Nouman Rasool
NFL Rules on Kerby Joseph Controversial Tackle
© Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

In a decisive move that has stirred conversations across the league, the NFL has concluded its investigation into the contentious tackle by Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph. The incident, which occurred during the NFC wild-card game, resulted in a significant injury to Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee.

Despite the severity of Higbee's torn ACL, the league determined that Joseph's hit was within the bounds of legal play, opting not to fine him for this specific action.

However, Joseph wasn't entirely cleared of scrutiny. The NFL imposed a fine for a separate instance of unnecessary roughness, underscoring its commitment to player safety amidst rising concerns over tackling techniques.

Rising Tackling Controversy

The aftermath of the incident saw a wave of criticism from the Rams' camp, especially from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Joseph's approach to tackling, often targeting lower body parts, has been a point of contention.

This method, although effective in preventing head-to-head collisions, has raised eyebrows for its potential to cause serious injuries, as highlighted by a similar occurrence involving Vikings tight end TJ Hockenson earlier in the season.

Despite the backlash, Joseph has consistently defended his technique, denying any intent to harm. His strategy, aimed at mitigating the risks of concussions and head injuries, reflects the ongoing dilemma faced by defensive players: balancing the need for effective tackling against the risks of causing injury.

This ruling from the NFL, while not penalizing Joseph for the hit on Higbee, does not entirely absolve the safety from criticism. It opens up a broader discussion on the nature of defensive play in the league, particularly how players can navigate the fine line between aggressive defense and player safety.

As the NFL continues to evolve its rules and regulations to enhance player protection, cases like Joseph's tackle provide valuable insights into the complexities of enforcing these standards. The decision not to fine Joseph for the Higbee incident, while justifiable under current guidelines, nonetheless underscores the ongoing debate over the ethics and safety of tackling techniques in professional football.