‘Flag Football’: NFL Coaches, Players Slam New Kickoff Fair-Catch Rule
Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs talks to press after defeating San Francisco 49ers by 31 - 20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

NFL coaches like Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid and Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh have joined with players to slam the new kickoff fair-catch rule the owners voted to pass, with Reid arguing it’s going turn the game into “flag football.”

On Thursday, league owners voted against opposition by coaches to approve a one-year trial for a rule that puts the ball on the receiving team’s 25-yard line “if there is a fair catch on a free kick (kickoff and safety kick)” anywhere between the 25-yard line and the goal line. This is an attempt to reportedly cut down on injuries, a move some in the NFL said will do the exact opposite, CBS reported.

“My thing is, where does it stop, right?” Chiefs coach Reid said. “We’ll see how this goes. You don’t want to take too many pieces away and you’ll be playing flag football.”

Ravens head coach and former special teams coach Harbaugh said, “The fair catch rule, we had a chance to weigh in on that with all the special teams coaches.”

“We had a long talk and discussion about that,” he added. “We weren’t for it. We voted against it. We think it’s going to create more high-speed head trauma than not having it in there. That’s our position on it. But we’ll see. They want to give it a shot and take a look at it.”

Lions coach Dan Campbell said the rule was “highly frustrating” and said that he hates “that we continue to take away from the game. That’s what really worries me. We continue to bleed this. If we’re not careful, it won’t replenish at one point.”


Meanwhile Super Bowl- winning champion Chiefs player Travis Kelce didn’t hold back, calling the rule “absolutely stupid.”

“I don’t think this is making the game safer,” Kelce said on his “New Heights” podcast. “I think it’s making it more boring. And taking a lot of excitement out of the game’s opening play. This is wack.”

Kelce’s brother, Philadelphia Eagles star Jason Kelce, said, “We’re just getting closer and closer to getting rid of special teams. … We’re just going to have guys, ‘Hey, I’m going to run 80 yards for no reason and then we’re going to start the drive!’”

Green Bay Packers First Team All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon wrote on his Instagram, “Lol what is a fair catch?”

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