Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro punter Tommy Townsend was the first Chiefs player to publicly express his disapproval of the NFL changing the fair catch on kickoffs rule, doing so via Twitter on May 23.
Now, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce has also made his thoughts known on the rule change via his “New Heights” podcast alongside his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce.
“I think this is absolutely stupid,” Travis said on the May 25 episode. “I don’t think this is making the game safer. I think it’s making it more boring and taking a lot of excitement out of the game’s opening play. This is whack.”
It was clear from the episode that neither Travis nor Jason was a fan of the rule change.
“It just deflates the excitement of the first kickoff. Everybody used to like (imitates crowd noise) and it’s exciting and then you see that first like contact. You hear it,” Travis continued.
“Everybody is just running full speed at each other. Heads are banging. Guys are running full speed at each other and then a guy gets close-lined and does a backflip. And you’d like, ‘FOOTBALL! THIS IS ELECTRIC.’ and you’re just going to ****ing turn it into, ‘Bloop, place the ball at the 25-yard line. Let’s get the quarterback out here.’”
NFL Trying New Rule Change for One Season
What Travis and Jason Kelce, among many others in the NFL landscape, are reacting to is the NFL owners approving of a one-year rule change that puts the ball on the 25-yard line following a fair catch or touchback on a kickoff. The rule change was first reported on by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero on May 23.
The previous rule was that the ball is spotted on the 20-yard line following a fair catch on a kickoff. So, the new rule change moves the ball five more yards farther away from the receiving team’s end zone in that scenario, which deters a returner from taking the ball out of the end zone.
The rule change will make kickoff returns less likely to happen for at least the 2023 season, which will overall make the game less fun to watch, as a well-executed kickoff return is one of the most electric plays in football to watch. Yet, the NFL is standing by the fact that the rule change is an attempt to help reduce concussions.
The rule change stirred many emotions on social media.
“Well this is stupid, touchbacks makes sense obviously cuz thats always been a thing, but fair catches? The just kills any possible strategy that’s not ‘just kick it in the end zone kid’,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The @NFL is just too determined to kill the special teams aspect of the game smh,” another user wrote.
Andy Reid Reacts to Fair Catch Rule Change
Speaking to the media after Day 3 of organized team activities (OTAs), Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked about the fair catch on kickoffs rules change and how it affects the defending Super Bowl champions.
“I don’t know, we’ll have to go through all that,” Reid said on May 24. “My thing is, where does it stop? I mean, you start taking pieces and you know, we’ll see how this goes but you don’t want to take too many pieces away or you’re going to be playing flag football.”