NFL considers kickoffs at 35-yard line, touchbacks to 25-yard line

Significant changes on kickoffs are coming to the NFL in 2011 if the NFL’s Competition Committee gets its way.

Falcons President and Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay revealed on a conference call with the media today that the Competition Committee is proposing a major modification of kickoffs, moving the kickoff back to the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and giving the receiving team the ball at the 25-yard line, instead of the 20, if there’s a touchback.

In other words, it will be easier for the kicker to boot the ball into the end zone, and there will be greater incentive for the return man to stay in the end zone instead of running it out.

The Competition Committee is also proposing the elimination of all forms of the wedge block, including the two-man wedge, and requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. All of these changes, the Competition Committee believes, will cut down on injuries on kickoffs.

“The injury rate on kickoffs remains a concern for us,” McKay said.

One thing that will not change is what happens after a kickoff goes out of bounds: The Competition Committee’s proposal is still for the receiving team to get the ball on the 40-yard line.

All Competition Committee proposals will be voted on by the owners at next week’s NFL Annual Meeting.

76 responses to “NFL considers kickoffs at 35-yard line, touchbacks to 25-yard line

  1. Yes, because this is important.

    The rules don’t matter if you’re not playing football!

    Stupid rule change too.

  2. Come on. Too much contact for these guys? If you move the kickoff 5 yards closer there will be pretty much nothing BUT touchbacks.

  3. Sorry Rich McKay. None of that will change the fact that Matty Ice turns into Matty Melt in the playoffs.

  4. Seriously!? Why don’t they just turn it into a flag football league?


    Stop trying to turn the game into a tiddlywinks match.

  5. For god’s sakes, then just get rid of the kickoff entirely you idiots. In fact, let’s just play flag football.

  6. Whey don’t they move it back to the 40 yard line where it used to be 50 years ago? Then they would never have to worry about kickoffs being run back. Or better yet, why don’t they just put the ball at the 20 or 25 yard line and forget about kickoffs altogether?

  7. stupid. why not just eliminate the kickoff and give the other team the ball at the 25? that would eliminate injuries.

  8. Now if you kick the ball through the endzone should that be considered kicking it out of bounds since it doesn’t allow the receiver to make the decision to return it or not?

  9. Sounds unnecessary to me…. Just cause there is a committee don’t mean you got to think of changes just for the sake of changes each year.

  10. Terrible idea.

    Special teams as of late has become a huge aspect of the game with return guys like Hester and Harvin changing entire games on a single electrifying return.

    If its not broken, don’t try to fix it.

  11. “requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. ”

    This is the receiving team?

    Should be fun on on-side kicks….

  12. Wait, didn’t they just change the wedge rule last year? How do they have sufficient evidence after one season the new wedge rule hasn’t prevented injuries? There is one year of statistics against many decades under the last set of rules. For all they know, this year may have been a fluke for injuries on special teams one way or the other. The sample size is way too small for them to use one year of injuries to legitimize another set of wedge restrictions. Paralysis by analysis.

  13. “requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. ”

    Is that meaning the kicking team? Isn’t that the norm now? What is that meant to change?

  14. I do not like it. Injuries is part of the game. It is sad when it happens but you cant do anything about it. You will still have injuries on kickoffs. How about keep the 30 yd line kickoff spot but make touchback spot 25 yd line. Keeping the same system for good kick returns but more of a decision for the KR to stay in the endzone for a touchback for that spot at the 25.

  15. They want to change this stuff but think an obvious catch controversy is fine the way it is. These people are changing the rules in the most ignorant way possible. 20 years ago, there was no controversy on what a catch was or what a fumble was. Instant replay is a great tool but if the lawyers are the ones writing the rules there will always be technicalities and interpretations that change the game from its intended outcome. How about putting a couple fans with some common sense on this committee

  16. better yet how about if the receiving team is flagged on the kick-off really make it a penalty by not giving them a 1st and 10 situation, if it’s a 10 or 15 yd penalty make it 1st and 20 or 25 this then is a real penalty not getting it still 1st and 10.

  17. I’d on-side kick EVERY time if the opposing players are lined up 30 yards away. The ball will only need to get to your 45 yard line to retrieve it.

  18. Just eliminate the kickoff entirely and put the ball on the 20 every time. As a former special teams demon, it’d break my heart, but it would be much safer.

  19. Doesn’t this give the kicking team some added incentive to try and kick it inside the five? It seems significantly easier to stop a return man before the 25, especially if they are lining up five yards closer at the start of the kickoff.

  20. Plus, the Chargers “special teams” just got 100% better… INSTANTLY!

    Stupid rule change.

  21. Darvon,

    I think they’re referring to the kickoff team. In theory, it gives them less of a head start, so they’re not running as fast when they get to the point of impact with another player.

  22. They ought to reinstate 3 points for a kickoff between the uprights, move the kickoff point to the receiving team’s 45, and let the kickoff team head downfield 5 seconds before the kicker’s allowed to touch the ball but not be allowed to touch any receiving team’s player except the runner. But they have to wear clown shoes.

  23. darvon86 says:
    Mar 16, 2011 11:14 AM
    “requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. ”

    This is the receiving team?

    Should be fun on on-side kicks….

    I believe by “kickoff team” they mean the team kicking off.

  24. Why don’t they just hand the ball to the receiving team at their own 25 & cut to the commercial.

  25. These moronic rule changes to take contact and physicality out of the game are all part of Goodell’s grand scheme to eventually merge with the Lingerie League.

  26. Here come some more retarded rule changes in the name of player safety,wait I got one let’s just do away with real football and HAVE ALL THE PLAYERS PLAY MADDEN AGAINST EACH OTHER that way no one gets hurt….what jackasses

  27. This is stupid…..there is no good reason to make kickoffs less fun to watch. I was at the game when Everett broke his neck making a block, so I understand where they are coming from….but this is an obvious incentive for players to avoid returning a kick… essence, this is a way for the players to avoid playing part of the game. This is much different from helmet to helmet hits; those rules were in place the whole time. (I have to say this because I still think Harrison is a scumbag)

    Anyways, the NFLPA said FU to the NFL. Why is the NFL still talking about player safety this week?

  28. Another stupid rule change from the dumbest pro sports franchise in the world (Except for the making money part of it)

    Thank God it is almost Baseball season.

  29. To make the kick return game better, you should get rid of the fair catch rule and, instead, require kicking team players to stay a certain distance away from the kick receiver. This “bubble” will prevent returners from getting blind-sided a fraction of a second, reducing injuries, after catching the ball and increase the number of returns. Breaching the “bubble” before the ball is caught will result in a stiff penalty, giving the receiving team excellent field position.

    If kick returns are so dangerous, then the NFL should give the receiving team the option of taking the ball at a certain yard line rather than risking injury via kick return, rather than tinker with yard lines to make the NFL an even more boring touchback-palooza.

  30. why bother kicking off at all?

    and why don’t we just get rid of the o and d lines…just let the skill guys go to work…and no tackling allowed!

  31. As a Colts fan, I would love it if this happens, 5 yds less to Peyton Manning when he’s got one of the worst special teams in the league to play with woohoo!

  32. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

    It ain’t “broke”.

    This rule virtually eliminates kick returns; kickers routinely hit the endzone from the 30, moving them up to the 35 just makes that a certainty. Playmaker’s Dealer is right, why even bother kicking at all, just give the other team the ball at the 25 for Pete’s sakes.

    Me, I love watching a guy back into the endzone and make that split-second decision “should I, or shouldn’t I?” and he either breaks off a nice run to get past the 20, or gets stuffed at the six yard line.

    Why, in God’s name, would these morons want to take that excitement away for an automatic down at the 25?

    These idiots actually believe that they’re making this game BETTER with this????

  33. So let me get this straight, they basically want to take 1/3rd of the game away in returns and such, but they can’t define what a catch is? I really hate to say it, but I’m slowly losing my love for the NFL.

  34. Im dropping my season tickets. Soon ping pong will be more dangerous. I hear the players Union wants the NFL to consider going to Flag Football. Whats next?

  35. Why not make the field smaller like the arena football league too whild you guys are at it

  36. Just remove kickoffs altogether, and give the team the ball at the 20 or 25 yard line. Would save time. They basically eliminated the jump ball in basketball and no one noticed.

  37. their logic is flawed though. There is less incentive for the kicker to kick it through the endzone because their coverage team is now closer and the “reward” is worse. Since the coverage team is 5 yards closer, they are more likely to stop a return before the 20. Before, it was really hard for a coverage team to stop a player before the 20, but now it is easier and the reward for a touchback is worse. So kickers will now kick the ball higher which will give the coverage team more time to get down the field…which there is less to cover now. Result, less touchbacks, more hits, more injuries.

  38. And the (GREAT) watering down of the game continues —- Hell, at this rate they will be able to play a 60 game season —- You know, I don’t even know if I really even care anymore, they keep watering it down and watering it down so really the game in so many ways is already lost —- Maybe I’ll just have to watch ski jumping or something else with a little danger to it —- Maybe I’ll watch the web-cam of convenience store clerks working at night, that’s pretty freaking dangerous and a million times more dangerous then Pro Football

  39. In other news, the owners have proposed the four-down format be replaced with eight downs

  40. Couldn’t this backfire and potentially increase the chance of injuries?

    Kickers would have less incentive to kick to the end zone. Why give up 25 yards when you can try and kick it a little short of the end zone? With your coverage team 5 yards closer, by keeping it in play you’ve got a better chance of pinning them deep than with the current rules.

  41. Moving the kickoff forward will allow the kickers to get more height on their kick (hang-time). This will squeeze the coverage gap (like a punt), possibly slowing the pursuit.

  42. The legacy of Roger Goodell will be that of a guy who insisted upon fixing what wasn’t even broken…….and ruining the league and the pro game in the process. Just about time to walk away from the NFL. It no longer even resembles the game I grew up with from the 70’s on.

  43. Maybe they should do something about having 40% of the returns flagged. Its pretty stupid to get injured for returns that likely don’t even count.

  44. Do any of those clowns in the league office even WATCH football?? Their own network just listed the emergence of return specialists as one of the ten best things about the past decade of the sport. And now in one fell swoop they’re basically going to eliminate the excitement of players like Cribbs and Hester from the game? Brilliant. Next they can outlaw bump coverage and blitzing, and play every week under exhibition rules like that joke the Pro Bowl.

    At what point are they going to realize/accept that you can’t legislate all risk of injury out of a contact sport without fundamentally altering the nature of the game? They need to focus on getting all players wearing better helmets and teaching proper form tackling rather than all these fines and rule changes.

  45. Cool. Maybe they can change a TD to 12pts, a FG to 5pts, make each QTR 25min, and equip all players with a fashionable belt to support the flags they’ll be wearing soon. What an awesome idea!

  46. why not move the kicking spot to 25 yd from 30yds instead of going to 35 yd… they routinely go for touchbacks these days anyways

  47. These people need to realize that players are going to get hurt when playing a sport like football along with any other sport.

    And plus kick-offs returned for a touchdown can have a really huge impact on the game and makes it more exciting so I don’t see any reason to change it.

  48. Keep the rule the same, but everyone involved in kickoffs has to where stuffed sumo wrestler suits. That’ll keep everyone safe.

  49. It’s obvious this is being looked at to try and reduce injuries in any way possible. Given the speed of the game today as opposed to even 10 years ago, kickoffs, while exciting if there’s a run-back for a score can be the most dangerous as well.

    One thing I would do is make it where is a kickoff or punt goes into the end zone and is NOT brought out, it’s a rouge worth one point to the kicking team as has been the case forever in the Canadian Football League and in the NFL with the ball brought out to the 30 (such, however, would NOT be allowed to decide a game in overtime as in the regular season, a team would have to win by at least three points EXCEPT where the defense scores a safety (other than where time in an overtime period runs out), while in the playoffs a team would have to win by seven points or more). That would make for some interesting strategy at times with “coffin corner” kicks. I would also make ALL punts live balls for both teams if it goes at least 25 yards, making it where the receiving team has to actually make an attempt to catch the ball instead of letting it go since the kicking team would be able to recover such and run it in. This was the rule with punts that actually was in play in the XFL in 2001.

  50. If this passes into the rule book my team ( dolphins ) can work on not having punts block along with field goals tries, because they sure are having trouble stopping a return from any where on the field, of course with there field goals the coach will be fists pumping because we played not to lose instead of to win, perhaps now the owner will kick him in the butt each time he gets excited over a field goal, then lose by 3 points or so. Bill

  51. I don’t think they’re serious about passing this, even though, I dont think it’s such a bad idea. It’s obvious a strategic move by the NFL to bring to the judge and say, “Hey, look! We’re worried about these players and we want the best for them, on and off the field.” That’s why it’s being presented by the NFL as a way to bring less injuries to the field, and not a way to improve the game.

  52. Well there goes any game changing plays on the kick-off, that is if it’s approved. I can see getting rid of the wedge, but moving the ball closer to the EZ is a bad idea. Billy Cundiff just signed a good deal because of his ability to boom the ball through the EndZone, move it up 5 yards and now over half the NFL can do it. Also, guys like Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs, who are really only diffrence makers on ST, won’t be as sought after and sign those lucrative contracts anymore. This impacts waaaayyyy more than just field postion. What if the last play of the game is a Touchback? No exciting Stanford-Cal finishes? Or like the New Orleans-Jax game. This is stupid, I think I would rather spend my money on Hockey Season Tix, at least they’re allowed to fight. (However, all of this saftey talk is starting to infect the NHL too. I just hope not to the same extent as the NFL.)

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