Clark Hunt thinks Competition Committee will look at end zone fumble rule

USA TODAY Sports

The worst rule in football reared its ugly head in the divisional round of the playoffs, robbing the Browns of possession near the goal line and giving the ball to the Chiefs on their own 20. Will the rule, hiding in plain sight for decades, now change?

“I do think the Competition Committee will look at that rule this year,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio. “A lot of times it takes a catalyst play in an important game for the Competition Committee to dig in and think about changing a rule that’s been around for a long time. And certainly that play hurt the Browns, helped the Chiefs, had an impact on the course of the game so I do think there’s a good chance it’ll be looked at. I don’t know where the Committee will come down but I can see arguments on both sides.”

I don’t see an argument on both sides. Some do. Those who do will be disinclined to get rid of the rule.

Also disinclined to get rid of the rule likely will be, surprisingly, the Browns. When it comes to screwy rules like this, there’s a weird mindset among most teams that, after getting burned by it, it makes sense to keep it in place because the next time that team will benefit from it. (Maybe that’s why the Chiefs would be willing to consider dumping it now.)

Hunt is right that a “catalyst play in an important game” compels change. However, the latest example likely wasn’t enough of a catalyst in a game that wasn’t sufficiently important. Critical mass won’t be achieved until this rule gets applied in a Super Bowl, when millions of casual fans start asking questions about why the team that nearly scored a touchdown lost possession to the other team, when the other team didn’t actually recover a fumble.

The solution remains simple and clear: If a player fumbles the ball into and out of the end zone before anyone recovers it, the offense gets the ball at the spot of the fumble. That’s exactly where the offense would have gotten the ball if it has bounced out of bounds one inch short of the goal line.

55 responses to “Clark Hunt thinks Competition Committee will look at end zone fumble rule

  1. I think it’s a good rule. Forces teams to take care of the football when they’re close to goal line. There should be some sort of penalty for fumbling into the end zone. I guess it could be changed to placing the ball at the 1 yard line for the other team, but nothing seems to be broken about the rule.

  2. Agree completely. Doesn’t make sense that if you fumble it out of bounds you get to keep it, but if it goes into the end zone it’s a touchback.

  3. I disagree. They fumbled the ball. I coach youth football. I taught my 6,7,8,9 and now 10-year old kids, the most important part of any offensive play is, “us having possession of the ball at the end of the play”. I do not love the rule. That being said, the player fumbled the ball. There has to be a more significant punishment than simply getting the ball at the spot. I think, if there is any change at all, the opposing team should kickoff to the fumbling team and let them start over at best.

  4. It’s a good rule. Don’t fumble the ball out of the endzone. God forbid there’s a rule that favors the defense.

  5. It does need to change. The defense shouldn’t get the ball if they don’t take it away and possess it – e.g. fumble recovery or INT.

  6. Keep the rule. Its fine. Why give the offense another advantage in a rulebook full of favors for the offense. Here is an idea – dont fumble the ball out of the end zone.

  7. Finally. It is absurd that the punishment is so harsh. I say the team who fumbles simply gets the ball at the 20.

  8. There is no logical argument anyone can make for this rule. It’s illogical. If they didn’t already have this rule & were trying to institute it as a new rule NO ONE would be for it.

  9. It’s not a rule as much as it’s a fundamental aspect of the game.
    A live ball that becomes dead in the end zone is a touch back.

    The fumble through the end zone is just another way the ball got there, like a kickoff or a punt.

  10. The rule should stay as it is a the definition of a touchback. It will also prevent teams from just kicking a live ball in the end zone to keep possession.

    This only comes about because a player dives and/or reaches the ball out which is a risk that shouldn’t benefit the offensive team.

  11. There’s nothing wrong with this rule. You better secure the ball if you’re going to dive for the goal line

  12. Give it back to the offense but make them start at the 20. You still get penalized for fumbling but if the defense doesn’t recover it why should possession change?

  13. How about the ability to use replay to throw a flag on a defender who leads with his helmet? I’m not a Browns or Chiefs fan, and that non-call was far more egregious on that play than the fumble out of the end zone.

  14. Changing the rule as suggested means there is little to no risk if you reach out for the pylon.

  15. I think it’s a good rule however on that play if the proper call was called the head to head contact I believe the receiver wouldn’t fumbled the football!

  16. The rule was s fine. If you want to fix rules, start with the muff rule. A defensive player cannot advance a muffed punt after recovering it. THAT is a rule worth changing.

  17. Sure, take away one of the last rules that benefits the defense. While you’re at it, why not just adopt Pro Bowl type rules for the defense as well?

  18. Keep the rule, it has been part of the game since the beginning. Quit thinking you need to make rule changes for the sake of making them.

  19. Offense gets the ball at the point of the fumble? Are you kidding? That’s like it never happened.

  20. I think it’s a good rule. You must protect the ball when crossing the goal line, and do we really need another rule that favors the offense?

  21. No rule change is necessary. Situational awareness is a key component of the game. If players insist on reaching for the pylon, let there be risk involved.

  22. Most punitive rule in football.

    If fumbling out of the end zone is a penalty, then penalize it like every other rule. Mark off yardage. Call in a 10 yard penalty, loss of down. Offense retains possession.

  23. And while at it get rid of the stupid multi yard pass interference penalty. Make it 15 yard and move on.

  24. While they’re at it, how about they look at allowing reviews for targeting

  25. jkk60 says:
    February 3, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    And while at it get rid of the stupid multi yard pass interference penalty. Make it 15 yard and move on.

    =================

    If they do that, you’ll never see another long pass completion again.

  26. There are 100 yards of green football real estate. If you fumble the ball to the length of 101, you have triggered a wacky rule THAT SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED

  27. if an offense or punt returner is backed up and fumbles the ball out of bounds one inch from their own goal line, they keep possession. if they fumble it into their own end zone, they lose possession and give up two points on a safety. this is not that fundamentally different, with the main difference being their proximity to scoring points. but like others have said, it’s intended to emphasize protecting the ball when you’re in scoring range. changing the rule would make offensive players more reckless in attacking the goal line with less fear of losing possession. it’s a weird rule but since it has been in place for a long time, i say keep it.

  28. I don’t have a problem with it, saying it’s just like fumbling out of bounds ignores the very fabric of the game. The endzone is holy ground, it’s not the same as those other 100yds. Those 10yds are sacred, that’s why all you have to do is break the plane of the goal line to gain complete possession of it. If you fail to protect the ball while entering that’s your fault. I’d rather we go more rugby. In Rugby if you run or lose the ball out of bounds it’s a turnover. I say we go halfway and any lost fumble out of bounds is a turnover. Games would be a lot more exciting that way than your way.

  29. Chiefs fan in LA says:
    February 3, 2021 at 7:21 pm
    its a touch back… don’t like it, don’t do it.
    ——————
    Question is…if the Chiefs lose the Super Bowl on one of these plays, do you feel the same way? Every team/player reaches for the end zone.

  30. The worst rule in football reared its ugly head in the divisional round of the playoffs
    __________________________________________

    Is it really the worst rule in football when there is no better option?

    Let that sink in a minute!

  31. Florio is right; it is a dumb rule that should be eliminated. If you fumble the ball forward and it goes out of bounds prior to recovery, the offense retains possession at the spot of the fumble. Simple. Years ago, forward fumbles out of bounds were spotted where the ball went out of bounds and for that type rule, and exception for the ball crossing out of bounds in the end zone was required and the touchback made logical sense. But when they changed the rule on forward fumbles, they should have gotten rid of the touchback rule at the same time for a logically consistent rule regarding forward fumbles.

  32. savethebs says:
    February 3, 2021 at 5:20 pm
    There is no logical argument anyone can make for this rule. It’s illogical. If they didn’t already have this rule & were trying to institute it as a new rule NO ONE would be for it.
    ————————————————————————————————————
    The logical argument for the rule was based on the old rule that balls fumbled forward out of bounds were spotted where they rolled out of bounds with the offense retaining possession. With that type of rule. you need an exception for when it rolls out of the end zone and flipping possession and making it a touchback made sense. When they changed the rule on forward fumbles out of bounds be spotted at the point of the fumble, the touchback rule became unnecessary and inconsistent, and should have dropped.

  33. There are lots of “dumb rules”…how about this: a receiver can receive a kickoff while standing out of bounds at the one yard line, and that causes a penalty on the kicking team for the ball at the 40 yard line. However, if a receiver gets pushed out of bounds, they can’t be the first to touch a pass thrown, eliminating a clean catch.
    Fumbling through the end zone rewards the defense for an offensive mistake. While the NFL has rigged the game in favor of the offense, this is the only rule that is DISTINCTLY in favor of the defense. Put the ball at the 20. New set of downs. Make both teams earn it.

  34. fairhooker says:
    February 3, 2021 at 6:09 pm
    I think it’s a good rule however on that play if the proper call was called the head to head contact I believe the receiver wouldn’t fumbled the football!
    _________________________________

    I agree that helmet to helmet rule should be changed but it should be called as “incidental contact” and here’s why, because BOTH players lowered their heads, how do you call who initiated first between the two players lowering their heads to trying to attain an advantage?

    NO HARM NO FOUL PLAY ON!

    It just bothers the hell out of me that 80-90% of the time this call goes against the defense when it’s both players that actually are committing a foul almost simultaneously!
    And all too often when it’s a RB that lowers their head first but the D will still get called for the foul, that’s BULL.

  35. The rule as it reads right now is inconsistent. Make it consistent by placing the ball where it was initially fumbled.

  36. Then change a fumble out of bounds to a change of possession too. It’s silly, any other turnover outside of downs, has to be physically recovered by the defense. Out of the endzone and the D gets it without recovering. There’s no turnover if a receiver only gets one foot in in the endzone, it’s incomplete. Either spot the ball at the point of fumble or even make it a no gain and play the next down at the original line of scrimmage.

  37. Ironically the picture is the uncalled, head to head with the crown of the helmet launched at a defenseless player that caused the fumble ……

  38. I was thinking they should change it, but after reading some comments I was convince to keep it. Everything favors offense, so let it be.

  39. I like the rule, everyone knows it and it’s costly if the ball carrier makes a mistake. Take care of the ball and it’s a non issue.

  40. HeavyD says:
    February 3, 2021 at 7:19 pm
    Most punitive rule in football.

    “If fumbling out of the end zone is a penalty, then penalize it like every other rule. Mark off yardage. Call in a 10 yard penalty, loss of down. Offense retains possession.”

    It’s not a penalty. IT’S A FUMBLE!

    It’s like life— risk vs. reward. Want to take the risk of trying to extend a football over the goal line? Fine. You must take the risk you will be short, possibly fumble, and loss possession.

  41. Give it to the offense at the 20. In fact, do the same for every out-of-bounds fumble inside the 20. No more giving lost fumbles back to the offense at the 1. This way, we won’t waste time parsing over exactly where a fumble goes out of bounds.

  42. I’d say a more absurd rule to change is the half the distance to the goal rule when the offense is backed up. Rather than turning a 10-15 yard penalty into a half yard penalty because they offense is backed up, move the line to gain out the remainder of the penalty. In other words if they’re at their own 1 yard line and need the 11 for a first down and commit a 10 yard penalty, back them up half a yard and move the line to gain out to the 20.5 yard mark.

    I remember thinking during the Bill/Chiefs game when the Bills were on their own 1 and took a timeout, they should have just committed a penalty and lost a foot rather than burn a precious timeout.

  43. “Critical mass won’t be achieved until this rule gets applied in a Super Bowl, when millions of casual fans start asking questions about why the team that nearly scored a touchdown lost possession to the other team, when the other team didn’t actually recover a fumble.”

    It happened in a superbowl in a really famous play… Leon Lett getting stripped. Play wouldn’t be remembered if the cowboys get the ball back at the 3 and score one play later.

  44. bjwbrown2011 says:
    February 4, 2021 at 9:44 am
    “Critical mass won’t be achieved until this rule gets applied in a Super Bowl, when millions of casual fans start asking questions about why the team that nearly scored a touchdown lost possession to the other team, when the other team didn’t actually recover a fumble.”

    It happened in a superbowl in a really famous play… Leon Lett getting stripped. Play wouldn’t be remembered if the cowboys get the ball back at the 3 and score one play later.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————
    That is an apples to oranges comparison because the Leon Lett play did not change to outcome of the game. AT the time of the fumble, the Cowboys were coasting to a huge victory, and the Lett fumble/touchback did nothing more than reduce the Cowboys margin of victory by seven. Possibly of interest to a person betting on total points scored or margin of victory but otherwise irrelevant. Had the play cost the Cowboys a Super Bowl, quite likely Jerry Jones gets the rule removed for the reasons discussed above.

  45. I hear people arguing ”don’t fumble the ball” the same should hold true for the defense. If you want possession of the ball, then recover it. A fumble out of bounds at any other point in the field doesn’t change possession so it’s just proof that the rule wasn’t even well thought out in the first place. I propose they treat it like kicking the ball out of bounds, penalize the offensive 15 yards first a goal from the 15 yard line. That’s a stiff penalty but is fair for the defense as well.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.