Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs doesn’t like the new fair-catch rule on kickoffs. In a presser, he warns against robbing football of more elements.
“How far do we want to go? We start removing parts of the sport and see how it goes. But if you take away too many parts, we’ll soon be playing flag football,” Reid said, criticising the new rule agreed to by NFL team owners and the league on Tuesday.
Thanks to the new rule, starting next season the receiving team can start its drive from its own 25-yard line on a fair catch after the kickoff – regardless of where the ball was caught. The NFL is thus adopting the rule, which has already been used in college football since 2018, on a test basis in the coming season.
NFL hopes for fewer kickoff returns
It is intended to make returns, which have increasingly led to head injuries in recent years, less attractive. The NFL hopes the rule change will reduce kickoff returns from 38 per cent to 31 per cent.
In flag football, which Reid uses for his comparison, tackles are usually prohibited. Instead, the defence stops an opponent’s attack by pulling a flag from the ball-carrying offensive player’s belt.