Since the NFL announced it was adopting a new kickoff rule that would enable kick returners to call a fair catch and have the ball placed at the 25-yard line, the response from many throughout the wider football world has been largely negative.
Adding to those who can now be counted among the detractors? The Kelce brothers.
Travis and Jason Kelce addressed the issue on their podcast, New Heights, on Thursday, when each teed off on the new rule and decried the league for mitigating what they view as one of the most exciting plays in the game.
“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 echoed his brother’s sentiments, lamenting that the new rule will further minimize the role of special teams in football, and wondered why the league doesn’t just remove kickoffs from the game entirely.
“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.’”
The NFL pointed to player safety as justification for the new rule, with commissioner Roger Goodell citing data that supports the kickoff as having a higher risk of injury than any other play. The rule was adopted despite “aggressive pushback from special teams coaches and players,” per Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer.
“The data is very clear about the higher rate of injury on that play,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “We’ve been talking about it for several years. We have not made a lot of progress on this play. This was a step that we think was appropriate to address that. But 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?”