The NFL has passed the controversial new rule that has faced strong opposition from coaches and players. Per Ian Rapoport, all fair catches and touchbacks will come out to the 25-yard line on kickoff returns.
The NFL has passed a new rule instituting all fair catches and touchbacks come out to the 25-yard line on kickoffs, source said. Now the same as the college rule, the thought is that this should make it safer, though special teams coaches around the league oppose the change.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 23, 2023
When a fair catch is called, the ball will be advanced to the 25-yard line, thus discouraging players to return kicks. The league is following the NCAA's footsteps with this new rule, and the reasoning behind it is for player safety. Concussion rates on kickoff returns have increased, which is what spurred the league to take action. NFL executive Jeff Miller said “We can’t stand by and do nothing.”
However, the rule change has faced strong opposition from coaches and players, who think that this rule further devalues the role of special teams play. Pat McAfee is none too pleased with the rule change either, saying quote: "This is a joke." McAfee went on to go on an expletive-laden rant after Roger Goodell reportedly lobbied for the rule change to be instituted.
Unfortunately, rule changes like these are inevitable, and players and coaches are gonna have to live with it whether they like it or not.