xfl kickoff

NFL Will Consider Adopting XFL’s Kickoff Format

The NFL has said that player safety is their top priority for many years now. There have been drastic changes made to the game, some to the point that fans have had their gripes about how they affect the on-field product and viewing experience. And there may be yet another on the horizon, thanks to the XFL.

NFL Will Look Into Adopting An XFL Rule

The most apparent change has come in regard to the quarterbacks. Roughing the passer calls are at an all-time high, and there are infamous incidents of defenders being flagged for mundane hits or touches on the QBs. Unnecessary roughness has a whole new spin with the ban of helmet-to-helmet hits and blows to defenseless receivers.

So while we may hear more groans about undeserving flags for QB hits, it has been the kickoffs that have been the most affected by the NFL looking out for player safety.

There was actually a time, back in 1994, when the league wanted more kickoff returns. They moved the kickoff spot from the 35 to the 30-yard line, and the percentage of returns skyrocketed. But as the league looked into limiting concussions and focusing on safety, things changed in 2011. They moved the ball back to the original spot, the 35-yard line, and limited running starts for the kicking team.

It worked, drastically dropping both the number of returns and the number of concussions suffered. There have been even further changes made to decrease the collisions caused on kickoffs, with a new rule in 2023 that gives the receiving team the right to fair catch the ball and advance it to the 25-yard line.

Kickoffs Have Seen Dramatic Changes Over The Years

But the NFL might be taking it a step further. ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reported on Wednesday that the league is considering adopting the kickoff style that we recently saw in the XFL.

In this format, the players from the kicking team actually line up on the receiving team’s side of the field, at the 35-yard line, and are unable to move until the returner fields the ball. Positioned 5 yards in front of them are the 10 blockers for the receiving team, who don’t move until they see the kicking team attacking. The returner is the only one able to move while the ball is in the air.

While the idea seems like a good one in theory, there are people around the NFL who believe that the new format wouldn’t work in their game, citing the difference in athletic ability between the two leagues. “There will be literally no where to run,” said the source.

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