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Stephen Jones: Everybody wants something different in kickoff rule change

There’s widespread agreement across the NFL that the league needs new rules governing kickoffs. There’s no agreement at all about what those rules should be.

Cowboys executive Stephen Jones, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, says everyone who is proposing a change to the rules wants a different change.

I think everybody wants something different,” Jones said, via ESPN. “They don’t want a ceremonial play. They want it to be a real play and we just got to do it in a way that’s safe for the players so you don’t have the injury rate that we’ve had in the past; that it’s more in line with what a typical football play is. So I think that’s really important . . . I think it can be a positive play that the fans would really enjoy.”

That’s not a great sign that anything is going to change. For any rule change at all, 24 of the NFL’s 32 teams need to vote in favor. If everybody wants something different, it’s going to be tough to get three-fourths support for any individual change.

There’s agreement that the injury rate on kickoffs is too high. And there’s agreement that last year’s temporary rule change that allowed returners to fair catch kickoffs and take the ball at the 25-yard line, led to kickoffs becoming boring. That rule change was passed for only one year, so it would require 24 votes in favor to keep the rule for 2024.

The low-impact kickoff return seen in the XFL would seem to fit the bill for both reducing injuries and creating excitement, but so far there hasn’t been the groundswell of support for it that would suggest it could get 24 votes.

So the competition committee will urge the owners to change the kickoff rule. But no one is sure if there’s one rule change that everyone can get behind.