Another tweak to the kickoff rule promotes more touchbacks

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With so many changes to the kickoff, it’s possible that some were never noticed or, as the case may be, never disclosed. Which makes the task of picking through the new official 2018 rulebook for any/all specific changes to the 2017 edition even more important.

Here’s one that I’d previously missed — or that the league previously hadn’t mentioned: Kickoffs that hit the end zone without being touched by a member of the receiving team automatically become touchbacks.

For years, the automatic touchback rule has applied to punts that enter the end zone, with or without being touched. For kickoffs, the touchback becomes automatic only if it strikes the ground in the end zone without being touched by a member of the receiving team; the player can still catch the kickoff and choose to return it.

It’s not a change that will come into play very often, but it’s another example of the league’s broader effort to encourage touchbacks on kickoffs. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the NFL eventually adopts the rest of the rule that applies to punts, making it a touchback whenever the kickoff enters the end zone, regardless of whether it’s caught by a member of the receiving team.

20 responses to “Another tweak to the kickoff rule promotes more touchbacks

  1. This is what happens when players get advice from lawyers like De Smith. “Hey guys, let’s sue the NFL for every injury that you ever had during your career, we’ll make tens of millions!”.
    So in response, the NFL has NO choice but to minimize the potential for player injury. If that means wimpifying the game in the name of minimizing their legal and perceived liability, then so be it.
    The blame lies squarely on the PLAYERS themselves.

  2. I remember reading about this. You missed it. NFL wasn’t hiding it. In fact, NFL football operations tweeted it as part of the new proposed changes on 5-16.

  3. “Greedy liars and cheats slowly ruining the game we once loved”

    That’s the headline you should continue to run.

  4. But are we not seeing story after story about how these new rules will actually cause more returns and make the game more exciting?

    Yeah we never were buying it. It was a nice touch rolling out special teams coaches to lie and support your agenda though NFL.

    Worried about money and lawsuits. Not the quality of the product on the field. In the long run the latter will hurt your bottom line more. Trust me on this.

  5. By 2020 rulebook the entire game will be ruined and no fun to watch

  6. So now players will sprint downfield into each other only to realize the ball hit the endzone and they risked injury for a non-play.

  7. I don’t think this would have helped Barry Foster avoid everlasting embarrassment as the ball that he chose to ignore landed on about the 4 yd line.

  8. dryzzt23 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 7:32 am
    This is what happens when players get advice from lawyers like De Smith. “Hey guys, let’s sue the NFL for every injury that you ever had during your career, we’ll make tens of millions!”.
    So in response, the NFL has NO choice but to minimize the potential for player injury. If that means wimpifying the game in the name of minimizing their legal and perceived liability, then so be it.
    The blame lies squarely on the PLAYERS themselves.
    ———————

    Yeah how dare players want to have a life after football? They should be selfless and be willing to kill themselves for your entertainment!

  9. So this indicates the ball is no longer “live” on a kickoff when it crosses the goal line. That is a major, not minor, change, IMO.
    eliminates the need for the receiving team to control the ball after kickoff. Muff it on the two, no worry if it goes into the end zone.

  10. willycents says:
    July 6, 2018 at 9:28 am
    So this indicates the ball is no longer “live” on a kickoff when it crosses the goal line. That is a major, not minor, change, IMO.
    eliminates the need for the receiving team to control the ball after kickoff. Muff it on the two, no worry if it goes into the end zone.
    ________________

    It is only a touchback if the ball hits the end zone before being touched.

  11. “What will the new name be when they eliminate all kicking of the ball ?”

    Just another commercial break before spotting the ball on the 25-yard line. No new name needed.

  12. bkinacti0n says:
    July 6, 2018 at 9:38 am

    It is only a touchback if the ball hits the end zone before being touched.
    ………………………………………

    A kickoff has/had to be downed by the returner for the kickoff to be over , if not the kicking team could / could have recovered the ball and gained possession and /or scored a TD if recovered in the end zone .

  13. I get the vitriol for the rules change. I grew up in the 70s and beyond and they are changing the game that I knew. That said, “listening to lawyers” etc is BS. These are actual people we are talking about, and if the kickoff is causing health issues then I say change it. My enjoyment isn’t worth someone’s life. That’s like ancient Roman gladiator crap.

  14. Touch backs are just another boring play sandwiched between multiple commercial breaks. Players catching the ball in the end zone rarely make the 20 yard line trying to return. If the ball is kicked untouched into the end zone why even field a receiving team.

  15. Can’t wait for the XFL and real kickoffs. Oh wait, aren’t they the bozos that put a ball on the fifty and had players run to get it?

  16. thefiesty1 says:
    July 6, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Touch backs are just another boring play sandwiched between multiple commercial breaks. Players catching the ball in the end zone rarely make the 20 yard line trying to return. If the ball is kicked untouched into the end zone why even field a receiving team.
    ————————-

    Then it will just get kicked 50 yards and the kicking team will get the ball back.

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