NFL Rule Changes to Increase Excitement and Player Safety

NFL Rule Changes to Increase Excitement and Player Safety

Analysis

NFL

March 21st, 2024

The NFL competition committee is proposing  significant changes on the rule of kickoff and a ban on a specific tackling technique to improve game excitement while prioritizing player safety. These proposals will be presented to team owners for approval later this month.

A Look at the Proposed NFL Rule Changes

The main focus is on kickoffs, which have become increasingly rare due to safety concerns. The league hopes to increase kickoff returns by implementing a new format inspired by spring leagues like the XFL. Here's how it would work:

Kickoff location moves to the 35-yard line.

Kick coverage players (10) line up at the opposing 40-yard line.

The receiving team has at least nine blockers within a designated zone, with seven required to be on the 35-yard line.

Up to two returners can position themselves inside the 20-yard line.

Only the kicker, two returners, and the ball can move before it hits the ground or is touched in the "no-touch" zone.

This aims to create a safer environment for returns by limiting high-speed collisions.

Here's what happens after the kick:

End zone touches: Any kick reaching the end zone untouched can be returned or result in a touchback at the 35-yard line. Out-of-bound kicks in the end zone also lead to a touchback at 35.

Field of play: All kicks received in the field of play must be returned.

Under these rules, touchbacks (or fair catches) would award possession at the 35-yard line, instead of the current 25.

This new kickoff format aims to strike a balance between increased return opportunities and reduced injury risk.

Banning the Hip-Drop Tackle

Another proposed rule change targets a specific tackling technique: The hip-drop tackle. This involves grabbing the runner, then dropping the hips to land on their leg below the knee. The committee proposes a 15-yard penalty for this tackle, considering it as dangerous as the previously banned horse-collar tackle. The NFLPA, however, opposes this change, citing potential enforcement difficulties.

These proposed rule changes represent the NFL's ongoing effort to make the game more exciting for fans while prioritizing the well-being of its players. The upcoming owner vote will determine whether these proposals become official, potentially altering the landscape of kickoffs and tackling techniques in the NFL.

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Image credit of Footballscoop

tag: NFL

Klei Hoxha Author

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