Shakin’ Up the NFL Rules

The NFL had its annual owners meeting this week, and the 32 team owners voted on several new changes to the league’s rules. Among these moves includes the changing of the kickoff rules to promote more kick returns, as well as to limit the amount of injuries sustained during these plays.

It’s a bit complicated, so let’s break it all down.

The new rules essentially copy the XFL spring football league rules. Kickers will continue to kick from their own 35-yard line, however, the other 10 players on the kickoff team will line up on the receiving team’s 40-yard line. The kicking team’s players (other than the kicker) may not move until the ball either hits the ground or is touched by the returner on the receiving team.

But what about the receiving team? Well, at least nine of that team’s players must be in the “setup zone,” between their own 35-yard line and their own 30-yard line. And similar to the kicking team’s rules, the players in this zone may not move until the ball is on the ground or is touched by the returner. As for the returners themselves, there can be a maximum of two returners between the goal line and the 20-yard line. This area has been dubbed the “landing zone.”

Any kick that lands in this zone MUST be returned. If the kick doesn’t land in the zone, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 40-yard line. If the kick lands in the zone and bounces in the end zone, the ball will be placed at the 20-yard line. Finally, the onside kick rules have also been changed. In the 4th quarter, teams must declare to the officials that they will be attempting an onside kick. The officials will then relay that to the opposing team, meaning no more surprise onside kicks late in games.

For the complete set of rule changes for the 2024 season, including the ban of the “hip-drop tackle,” visit the website. They’ll take some getting used to, but hopefully it will make for more exciting games for next season and beyond.

By Jermale Dabney, Junior, Lindblom Math and Science Academy

Instagram: @jermale_d


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Written by Jermale Dabney

Hi, I’m Jermale! I love roller coasters, theater, and Chicago sports (unless it’s the White Sox).

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