Chiefs All-Pro Takes Aim at NFL for Rule Change: ‘Not Good for Football’

Getty Kansas City Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend.

NFL owners approved a key rule change that Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro punter Tommy Townsend, among many others, is not happy about.

“Not good for football for many reasons… but let’s pass something that players and coaches are so clearly against,’ Townsend wrote on May 23.

What Townsend is reacting to is a one-year rule change in the NFL that puts the ball on the 25-yard line following a fair catch on a kickoff. The rule change was first reported on by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero on May 23.

Pelissero also noted the rule change was approved despite the rule being “unanimously” opposed by NFL special teams coordinators.

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 endzone in that scenario, which gives the receiving team a bigger advantage on kickoffs. That’s at least one of the reasons why Townsend publicly addressed his frustrations with the rule change.

NFL Execs Sound Off on Rule Change

Tom Pelissero also shared NFL executive Jeff Miller’s comments on the new rule change.

“The kickoff play has the highest rate of concussion year after year. You can’t stand by and do nothing,” Miller said.

Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay was asked if he felt the new rule change would cause teams to kick the ball in ways in which the receiving team is forced to return the ball (ie squib kicks, shorter kicks)

“No, I don’t. It doesn’t mean they won’t do it, but we went back and looked at college and what the reaction was in college when they made this change and actually the number of squib kicks went down, it didn’t go up; the percentage went down from 2.8 to 1.9 or whatever it did. So we’ve looked at all the data,” McKay said, via Pelissero.

McKay also had a message for special teams coordinators that are opposed to the rule change.

“The only thing I would say, too, to special teams coaches is in the kicks that they were hanging to the 5-yard line or inside and getting this advantage, the average start line for those kicks being returned is 24.3,” McKay continued. “That is 0.7 different from the 25, so it’s not like there’s a huge advantage there.”

Twitter Reacts to Fair Catch Rule Change

Other Twitter users also reacted to the NFL changing the spot of the ball on a fair catch of a kickoff.

“I wonder at what point does the game actually go too far in the name of player safety? Now, this is only for 2023, right? And I truly hope the Competition Committee researches what the XFL and USFL do on kickoffs and consider those possibilities, too,” one Twitter user wrote.

“Don’t even do the kickoff at this point. It’s always going to be a fair catch. There is no reason to take it out of the back of the endzone. Zero reason,” another user wrote. 

“Just do the kickoff from the 50 and create incentive for onside kicks. Opponent getting the ball at the 40 vs 25 is plenty of incentive to try fun things on the kickoff more often,” another user wrote.

“Why don’t they just adapt the XFL Rules? It’s a lot safer and still allows for impact plays to happen on kick returns,” another user wrote.


Read More