A lot of NFL players are not happy about the new kickoff rule. And you can add Jason and Travis Kelce to that list.
In 2023, the league will implement a one-year trial where kick returners can call for a fair catch anywhere inside their team’s 25-yard-line and it will result in a touchback. The ball will be placed at the 25-yard-line as opposed to the 20-yard-line.
And on their “New Heights” podcast Thursday, the Kelce brothers made clear what they think about the amendment.
“I think this is absolutely stupid,” Travis said. “I don’t think this is making the game safe, I think it’s making it more boring and taking a lot of excitement out of the game’s opening play. This is whack.”
Jason agreed and claimed the new rule will take away from the role of special teams.
“What are we doing it for, then? Are we just gonna have guys, ‘Hey, I’m gonna run 80 yards for no reason and then we’re gonna start the drive!” Jason said. “We’re just gonna do everything for show. ‘Here’s the ceremonial kickoff that’s not gonna get returned ever.’”
But the NFL doesn’t care what they think.
In fact, the league passed the rule despite “aggressive pushback from special teams coaches and players,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
But Commissioner Roger Goodell made the rule change in the name of player safety.
“We’ve been talking about it for several years,” Goodell said. “We have a lot more work to be done about how we continue to evolve going forward. Can we continue to keep this play in an exciting way but more importantly a safe way?”
The Kelce brothers aren’t the only ones speaking out.
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was not shy about his feelings toward the new kickoff rule, either.
“My thing is, where does it stop right?” Reid said. “We start taking pieces and we’ll see how this goes. But you don’t want to take too many pieces away or you’ll be playing flag football.”
The rule will eliminate a huge percentage of return attempts. But it will also significantly shorten the field.
That said, 2023 is just a trial year. There’s no guarantee the new rule stays in effect in 2024.
“We did this rule for one year only because we really do want to get to a long-term solution, and maybe the long-term solution includes having more returns in the game and just trying to make the play safer,” Rich McKay, the head of the NFL’s competition committee, said Tuesday.
For what it’s worth, this just means the NFL now has the same kickoff procedure as college football, which implemented the rule in 2018.