NFL to vote on new kickoff rules, limiting full-speed collisions

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The NFL is planning further changes to the kickoff, hoping to reduce the number of high-speed collisions that happen on the play.

A proposed new rule that owners will vote on next week will make several changes to the kickoff. The key takeaways are:

1. The kicking team must line up within one yard of the line where the ball is kicked (typically the 35-yard line), and must have five players on each side of the kicker. That changes the rule that allowed players to line up five yards behind the spot where the ball is kicked to get a running start. Now the kicker will be able to get a running start, but everyone else will get one step at best.

2. At least eight of the 11 players on the receiving team must line up within 15 yards of their restraining line, which would typically mean between the kicking team’s 45-yard line and the receiving team’s 40-yard line.

3. At least two players on the kickoff team must be lined up outside the numbers, and two players between the numbers and the hashmark.

4. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.

5. Wedge blocks will be eliminated. Past rule changes have limited wedge blocks to two players, but now even the two-man wedge will be banned.

6. The ball will be dead if it touches the ground in the end zone. In the past the returner could pick up the ball off the ground in the end zone and run it out, but now it would be a touchback immediately if it touches the ground in the end zone.

These rules are likely to result in fewer high-speed collisions on kickoffs and, the NFL hopes, fewer concussions.

76 responses to “NFL to vote on new kickoff rules, limiting full-speed collisions

  1. How about just having the players sign a waiver that says “You’re basically going to get into a car accident every Sunday, but you’ll get millions of dollars for it.”

    If they sign – they play. If they don’t, they don’t.

    Problem solved?

  2. Are onside kicks banned as well? At this point I’d rather a player from each team met at the 50 and the Ref tosses the ball up like in basketball. Whoever comes down with it gets it at their 30 yard line.

  3. Well this sucks! Who wants to pool some cash and go get some dudes in wheelchairs from the rest home to crash into each other full speed sunday morning??
    Seriously, this safety crap is getting too much.
    Next season they will say its receivers hands, and the QB’s have to throw the ball softer.

  4. Hate the changes… but since they are hell-bent, I suggested long ago
    to narrow the distance between kicking and receiving teams lines.

    It really is the only choice if they must make change.

  5. What are they gong to call this new game? I don’t think the Arena League or the Lingerie League will have such ridiculous no-contact rules. I’m beginning to think this game will soon be taken over by millennials and relegated to “touch” football and everyone will get a participation trophy!

  6. I’d rather they just eliminated the kick-off altogether rather than be forced to watch a replay review on one of these flag-football rules.

  7. Let’s stop wasting time on these deliberations and just eliminate kickoffs already. We all know what the No Fun League wants. Why delay the inevitable?

  8. Dumb. Love these rules that have unintended consequences that make the play more dangerous than before. The new rule spreads everyone out which will only result in more speed and bodies flying around. Great job pencil pushing lawyers who’ve never played a down. Really knocked this one our of the park.

    Here’s what they should do that would actually make the play exciting and safe. 7 players on each side begin the kickoff locked up with one another spread out on the return side of the field. 3 get to run so they are the only ones who collide. Less big collisions. More long returns. You’re welcome Goodell.

  9. Sure, more rules that most players will forget to follow. So more flags and more stoppage of play, resulting in longer games and more fans tuning out. That’s what they’re hoping to accomplish, right?

  10. Before the game each team picks a “champion” game of thrones style and they fight for our entertainment MMA style at the 50 yard line until a knockout or submission. Winner gets possession of the football. It will be like the old Hockey Enforcer role on steroids and would be great entertainment.

  11. @ waynefontes: Pretty much so it looks like. Also, I hate the fact the ball is considered “dead” if it touches the ground in the end zone. No sense even fielding it, just let it bounce to the end zone.

  12. gotta agree most with lions fan 123 they get millions make em sign a “me and all my family or friends will not sue due to injury” clause kinda like when you go bungee jumping or parasailing very simple and leave the game alone

  13. Great. Another set of vague rules for a game that is already littered with too many vague rules and stoppages because of already vague rules. Remember, “KISS”, keep it simple, stupid. How do you expect the next generation, which has virtually no attention span, to stay interested in a game you keep putting more rules in?

  14. Man, you really hate to see this because it is such an exciting play. But I’ll play devil’s advocate here—safety comes first, and if eliminating one play eliminates the number of injuries that statistics say occur during this play then so be it. I’ll HATE to see it go, but such is life. Rule shifts have happened like this throughout the history of the league, and they’ll continue to happen as science better helps us understand the ramifications of the game.

    And whoever said that we should force athletes to sign a paper that says they give up their right to future health if they want to play the game is a complete idiot. A) That won’t stand up in court because the league would have to prove that the player had full understanding of the health risks concerned (which they can’t and don’t) B) It’s amazing how cavalier people are about someone else’s health all because they don’t want to give up watching one play.

  15. Funny, I already know ways to create high speed collisions with these alignments – it’s called cross blocks. Return team players on visiting sideline block kickoff team players on home sideline & vis-versa. I used this in super low level college (JUCO) & since we sucked we got kicked to often, so it became our highlight reel during film study. It’s a little safer because most hits are in shoulder/ non-head to head, but still pretty violent.
    Even better, teach a kicker to kick a 12 yard “pooch” kick to a sideline in the air (Akers & Eagles v. Cowboys in pickle juice game) & the return team can’t touch your guys until ball hits ground or is fielded.

  16. If you have to take or not take all, no way they get taken, but I could see the no wedge and the 1 yard running start rules working ok.

  17. The league should just deliver a few pounds of pot to the dressing rooms before the games.

    “This is on us, boys, go out have a good game and remember, we’re all brothers….”.

  18. willycents says:
    @waynefontes: Pretty much so it looks like. Also, I hate the fact the ball is considered “dead” if it touches the ground in the end zone. No sense even fielding it, just let it bounce to the end zone.
    – – – – – – –
    Yeah the dead ball is lame. I remember a Saints game, mid-90s where the punter punted the ball and it bounced into the end zone and the Saints players started walking off the field slowly. Well the play wasn’t dead, some guy for the Rams picked it up and started running it back. The Saints finally see it by the time the guy was at about the 40 yard line. Easy touchdown. It was hilarious and a perfect example why there should be no dead ball in the end zone.

  19. The wussification of the NFL continues. Can’t wait until all the teams receive a Lombardi Participation Trophy at the end of the season.

  20. I can’t wait for officials to determine which players are running full speed on kickoffs. Maybe they can make them skip down the field on kickoffs, like school children on the way to the cafeteria. What a joke!

  21. They want to eliminate kickoffs, but the fact that the kicking team can’t get any sort of moving start practically ensures that there will be an increase in returns this year. There’s too much incentive to get more yardage because of the greater distance between where the coverage team used to be when the ball was caught and where it will be now when it’s caught.

  22. A lot of us are lifers and obsessed with football. Now even we will have to stop and think of the rules during a game.

    The average fan though: “Ok wait what is the new rule now? Oh screw it. I am turning to The Voice”

    The game is slowly dying and no one seems to care.

    The suits in the NFL are so worried about money loss in concussion lawsuits that they are willing to ruin the game. Banking on us all still buying whatever crap product they roll out.

  23. Single file, walk toward the receiving team. Receiving team must do airplane spins till dizzy so they can’t run at the single line defense too hard. When the ball is caught only the kicker can try to touch the receiver but with one hand only. Crowd must not boo.

  24. “Quit blaming the NFL for going soft. Blame the ex players and their lawsuits.”

    Nope bkame the nfl for lying about and concealing concussion data

  25. How can any football player nowadays not know the risks he is signing up for? If you don’t want to accept the risks then don’t play football. It’s really not that difficult.

  26. Does this give a huge advantage to the on side kicking team?

    4. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.

  27. Maybe instead of running, the players on both teams should be required to skip during the run back.

  28. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I can’t wait for the instant replay reviews to determine if the ball touched the ground in the end zone before the returner caught it.
    ——————————————————————————–
    I can’t wait for the instant replay reviews to determine if a member of the kickoff team illegally lined up 1.01 yards from the 35 yd line or whether the receiving team crossed the 45 yd line by 1 inch.

  29. Maybe players should stop slapping their teammates in the head after a good play. Probably giving each other concussions there too.

  30. I’ve been watching the NFL since 1956. I love pro football with a passion. However, I hate this kickoff thing. Kickoffs have always been part of the game–an exciting, even thrilling part, too–and it sucks that the NFL is messing around with them. Come on, owners: stop this jerking around and let the players play. You’re taking a great game and watering it down so much that it’s almost becoming unrecognizable. Knock it off. Your league is going to take a big dip in viewership, attendance, and revenue if you don’t stop this foolishness. You can’t keep whittling away at the game and expect people to remain loyal to it. Change just for the sake of change is silly. It’s pro football, and it’s a dangerous game. Stop trying to turn it into two-hand touch.

  31. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    May 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm
    I can’t wait for the instant replay reviews to determine if the ball touched the ground in the end zone before the returner caught it.
    …………………………………………………………………

    That’s the entire point of this! More reviews=more ad’s!

  32. How about keeps the rules the same except only players (less the kicker)who weigh more than 300 pounds can be on a kickoff. That should slow down the collisions.

    Only half joking.

  33. I don’t fault owners or players for wanting the game to be more safe, and now that we have so much evidence about how harmful football can be I don’t see how fans can be against small changes that will help players. Of course there will always be risks to doing almost anything, but why is everyone so against making positive changes that will help current and future players? NFL athletes are a minuscule percentage of football players. High school and college players are also at risk and when the NFL makes a rule change for safety reasons, it’s a safe bet that the lower-levels will make it as well. They’re doing all they can to keep the kickoff a part of the game.

  34. been watching the NHL Stanley cup playoffs…harder hits there…and they’re blocking pucks (harder than a football)with their bodies. Great to watch…and the players don’t whine…

  35. it’s obvious the NFL doesn’t care what the fans think,they think they can do anything and we will continue to watchwatch!

  36. I am having trouble picturing how this is going to work, so I guess I will just have to wait to see it in play. To me it looks like it might cause less touch backs which could actually make kick offs more exciting. Good shifty kick returns may become a more influential position.

  37. “The NFL is planning further changes to the kickoff, hoping to reduce the number of high-speed collisions that happen on the play:”

    7. Players are not permitted to run full speed down the field. Every two players will have one leg each tied to each other as in a three-leg race. The kicker is not eligible to make tackles. The returner *must* wear over-sized clown shoes.

  38. justintuckrule says: “Great job pencil pushing lawyers who’ve never played a down. Really knocked this one our of the park.”
    ——————————

    Considering the kickoff recommendations all came from a committee of SPECIAL TEAM COACHES, you’re looking like a fool for blaming “lawyers”…

  39. A fan for 62 years !…I Have had enough! the NFL has destroyed this game in worrying about player safety and the resultant rule changes from endzone to endzone . I will not watch or support this flag football ! I have finally taken back my sundays after all these years and I am surprised at how good it feels ! I am not alone my friends, as I know many who feel as I do! Perhaps we are old fogies , but we know how football was supposed to be played ! And what is out there now is a “far cry” from what we enjoyed watching…db

  40. This rule will only last as long as it takes for them to realize how Belichick has found a way to gain some advantage through it, at which point it will be changed even more for the worse.

  41. all the people saying that the league is “going soft” or turning it into a game for wussies probably would have called Teddy Roosevelt soft for calling for a safer game. “Damn that Teddy, real men die playing this rather masculine game. Doesn’t he realize that death is the core of football? the game will be ruined.” please. things change over time, even sports.

  42. Probably best to just fold the NFL at this point. Has any other company ever tried to purposefully destroy itself like this?

  43. May 16, 2018 at 5:25 pm
    Does this give a huge advantage to the on side kicking team?

    4. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.
    ———————
    That’s what I was thinking. But if you read like a lawyer, the ball is touched when the kicker kicks it.
    It all depends on what the meaning of “until the ball is touched” is.

    It’s the new NFL.

  44. Growing up and playing neighborhood football, on occasion we played slow motion football.
    I can’t remember why.

    We would only walk fast, no running.
    My neighbor went down with one hand on the ground as a running back. He broke his thumb, untouched.
    Screaming in pain as his parents loaded him up to take him to the ER.
    True story.

    The point is, you can get hurt regardless of how “safe” you make the game.

  45. This is just stupid. The kick return is part of the game.. This is the wussification of our nation at work. Football is a risky sport. It isn’t for the weak. Jeebus Mary and Joseph, next thing you know they will start taking turns out of Nascar because of the very real risk of impacting the wall. When you play football you know the risk. The fact that they can come back after the fact and sue is insane. If you don’t want the risk go to the fallback position of a real freaking JOB making real people wages. Make the game safer by improving equipment. Penalize and eject players who violate safety rules.

  46. This is only the beginning. Once this passes, they’ll move on to the next most dangerous play and so on and so forth. What’s next, no fullback position? No attempting to block field goals or punts?

    I agree with the others, they need to sign a waiver or something to 1. acknowledge they may get injured 2. so they cannot be in any litigation vs. the league.

  47. I think these rule changes may have a greater impact than people think- making it harder for kickoff coverage units, and good special teams coaches will be hard at it adapting to the new rules.

    Teams that sleep on these rules changes could find themselves given up some big returns.

  48. Why don’t we just have the players on all 4’s??
    They can all crawl around on kickoff’s. No one gets hurt.

    Leave the kickoff alone!!

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