NFL officials meet to discuss altering kickoff rule: report


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The NFL competition committee reportedly talked about a rule change involving kickoffs on Sunday as the group of officials met in Indianapolis ahead of the new league year.

The committee could make a proposal to alter the kickoffs to make it look more like how the XFL did in 2023, the Washington Post reported, citing a source. The rule would need to receive 24 votes to be enacted. The NFL changed the rule last season, allowing fair catches on kickoffs. But the Washington Post reported that rule was only made for one season.

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Dameon Pierce celebrates

Houston Texas’ Dameon Pierce (31) celebrates a first-half kickoff return for a touchdown during the game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium in Houston on Dec. 24, 2023. (Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“My perspective has been that we have to keep the kickoff in the game,” Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay told the newspaper. “And to do that, we have to find a way to modernize it and get that play going again because that 20% return rate is not what was intended for that [fair catch] rule.”

In the XFL, kickoffs were taken from the kicking team’s 30-yard line. The members of the kicking team lined up at the receiving team’s 35-yard line and blockers on the receiving team line up on their own 30-yard line. Only the kicker and the returner can move until the ball is caught or 3 seconds after the ball hits the ground. Kickoffs that sail out of bounds or fall short of the receiving team’s 20-yard line move to the kicking team’s 45-yard line.

Roger Goodell at Chiefs-Lions

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

A touchback occurs when the ball travels into the end zone or bounces into the end zone. If it sails into the end zone without touching the ground, the receiving team gets the ball at the 35. If it bounces into the end zone, the receiving team gets the ball at the 15.

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A team can request an onside kick. It has to travel at least 10 yards but not more than 20 yards. A team could also decide to go for the 4th-and-15 option instead of the kickoff. If they convert, they keep the ball.

“We just have to be open-minded enough to say: Can we bring plays back in the game that have gone out of the game? And if we can in a creative way, we should consider it,” McKay added.

Tre Flowers kicks off

Atlanta Falcons’ Tre Flowers holds the ball for a kickoff after a Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety, Dec. 10, 2023, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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It’s unclear which part of the XFL’s rules the NFL competition committee was considering. The XFL merged with the USFL this year to become the United Football League.

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