early 13c., "a clasping, an embracing," verbal noun from clip (v.2). As a U.S. football penalty (not in OED), from 1920.
Clipping or Cutting Down from Behind. -- This is to be ruled under unnecessary roughness, and penalized when it is practiced upon "a man obviously out of the play." This "clipping" is a tendency in the game that the committee is watching anxiously and with some fear. ["Colliers," April 10, 1920]