Andy Reid sounds ‘flag football’ alarm about NFL kickoff rule

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Andy Reid is not a fan of the NFL’s new kickoff rule.
The change, which fits with a trend of the league potentially eliminating kickoffs entirely — as they are one of the most dangerous plays in the sport — says a fair catch behind the 25-yard line will put the ball at the receiving team’s 25-yard line.
“My thing is, where does it stop, right?” the Chiefs head coach said Wednesday, according to NFL Network.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speaks in March 2023 during the NFL Combine. Getty Images
“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.”
In essence, the rule will eliminate a hefty percentage of return attempts, since the incentive will now be to simply fair catch the ball from anywhere on the field.
It also makes it much harder for a kicking team to pin the opposition back with a coffin corner or deep kick.
The rule change was approved by the competition committee on Tuesday and will be enforced for a year only.
Chiefs place kicker Harrison Butker (7) steps into the kickoff during a December 2022 game against the Texans. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
It’s no guarantee that it will remain for 2024, and there is recent precedent for overturning a one-year rule change.
For instance, the pass interference replay system was enacted in 2019 but did not return the following year.
“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,” competition committee head Rich McKay said at a press conference Tuesday.
“… Special teams is a critically critical part of our game. And yet because of health and safety, we had to modify many times over the years. We now need to find a way to try to revolutionize the rule, if we can, in a way to get the kick return back in the game.”
The change puts the NFL in line with college football, which has the same rule.
The diminished importance of kickoffs as a result means there is likely to be backlash to the shift, with Reid being at the front of the line.

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