Get ready for Rams Wild and Whacky NFL rules changes to kickoffs.

It's Anything Goes with the NFL new kickoff rules. So what should you expect from the new Wild and Whacky rules from the LA Rams?
NFL Combine, Joshua Karty
NFL Combine, Joshua Karty / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
2 of 5

What does the new kickoff rule mean?

Okay, let's break down what the new kickoff rule means. If you recall, the kickoff is the play that is designed to start the game, start the second half, or after the offense of one team scores points. The play is designed to be a competitive means of one team sending the football to the other team. So what are the major changes?

  • Kicks that land between the 20 and end zone must be returned
  • Kicks that bounce from the landing zone into the end zone will be a touchback at the 20-yard line
  • Kicks that fail to reach the 20 will result in a touchback at the 40-yard line
  • Kicks that land in the end zone will result in a touchback at the 30-yard line
  • The opposing team will get the ball at the 40 if the kickoff goes out of bounds
  • Onside kicks are reserved for the 4th quarter and must be declared
  • There are no fair catches

The most glaring new rule change is the elimination of the fair catch. In essence, players will no longer be permitted to be stationary, wave their hand in the air, and be immune to contact as they make the catch. Fair catches, designed to promote safety for the return specialist, have become the norm and turned kickoffs into a ho-hum form of predictable exchange that eliminates the excitement for fans.

Perhaps a better way of conveying what this new rule means can be found in the visual supplied by NFL Football Operations. In the embedded 90-second video, there NFL highlights the major changes that all teams face with the new kickoff rule.

While the changes themselves may take some time to digest, there are clearly changes in store for NFL fans this year. Of course, that is the intention after all, right? But as is often the case, there are the intended changes, and there are the unintended changes. Let's first explore the intended changes: