NFL Tweaks Onside Kick Rule Proposal; Can Only Be Used in Regulation, Is Untimed

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) prepares to make the opening kickoff against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The NFL provided teams with an updated list of guidelines about the proposed kickoff alternative rule, which could be voted on Thursday for potential implementation during the 2020 season.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network passed along the complete summary, which features an untimed 4th-and-15 opportunity that can be used twice a game, but only in regulation, not in overtime:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Clubs received updated language on the proposed onside kick alternative that (as @AlbertBreer noted) clarifies it can only be used in regulation, not overtime, and is an untimed down. Also note the language on post-score penalties. Virtual meeting tomorrow. https://t.co/NWrbrazEuz

The tweaks will prevent a team with the lead from potentially using the rule to burn off the game's final few seconds before throwing the ball out of bounds. Standard timing rules will take effect after the kickoff alternative.

Teams must inform the referee of their decision to attempt a conversion, and the ball will be placed on their 25-yard line rather than the 35.

Support for the idea was "growing" ahead of the owners' virtual meetings, per Pelissero.

New York Giants president John Mara spoke out about the plan when it was raised last year to the league's competition committee.

"What are we, the Arena Football League?" Mara, the committee's only "no" vote, told reporters in March 2019.

The idea continued to pick up steam throughout the 2019 season, however, as the success of onside kicks dropped to a paltry 12.7 percent (8-of-63) in large part because of rule changes in recent years aimed at limiting head-on collisions and concussions.

At least 24 of the NFL's 32 owners (75 percent) need to vote in favor of the proposal to get it added to the rule book.

The 2020 regular season is scheduled to kick off Sept. 10 as the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans.