A football move in which a player on defense strikes an offensive player on the neck or chest by extending an arm away from his body and parallel to the playing field. This type of tackle is considered unnecessary roughness and a personal foul, and generally results in a penalty and sometimes a fine or other action by the league. Clothesline tackles can be made from in front or behind.
Although the NFL does not specifically outlaw “clothesline tackles” in their official rules, the clothesline tackle and similar moves are grouped under a number rules regarding player contact. Because the clothesline tackle is often aimed at a player’s neck or head and also involves a premeditated action on the part of the tackler, it is not only enforced as a personal foul, but also often results in a fine for the offending player. Aside from the vicious nature of the move, clotheslines are also considered dangerous because they can often catch the offensive player unawares and can cause injury if the victim falls awkwardly or is struck in the neck or head. One of the most feared practitioners of the clothesline tackle, before it became illegal, was Dick “Night Train” Lane, whose move was sometimes labeled the “Night Train Necktie.”