Penalty enforcement provisions in the proposed kickoff rule could be amended

The proposed changes to kick-off, which are wide-ranging and comprehensive, include rules for implementing penalties It occurs during landing and during the attempt.

As it currently stands, only penalties that occur during a down play will be imposed on a attempt, and penalties that occur during a attempt will result in the kicker's movement but not the other 21 members of the new kickoff formation.

According to a league source, the potential ramifications of this approach could lead to adjustments to be made to the approach. One concern comes from the potential temptation for defensive players to take a chance, for example, by hitting a passer if the downside is not a kick-off from midfield but a penalty from half-distance on the attempt. Also, as we mentioned on Wednesday, a penalty on the attempt may routinely be denied by the defense, since kick takers will be more comfortable hitting the 20-yard touchdown zone than the usual 35-yard kickoff point. Thus, defensive players may be more willing to take a shot at someone during a one- or two-point conversion attempt.

The whole situation is full of potential unintended and/or unexpected consequences. For example, if a touchdown or attempt penalty is imposed on the start of the next drive, what happens if a punt return results in a touchdown? Would it be known even before the kick that the touchdown would be cleared from the board?

These are all problems that need to be resolved by the Competition Commission and the owners. There still needs to be a real disincentive to commit a penalty on a down or attempt. The current rule as proposed may not create enough consequences to deter rough stuff in either game.

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Frankly, the proposal includes a lot of these potential questions, making it difficult to envision a final rule being adopted in March. Like many other rule changes from years past, this change may not be finalized until the next round of ownership meetings, in May.

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