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NFL owners approve key change to kickoffs for 2023 season

The alteration won’t make “Uncle Dave” — or any of the other special teams coordinators around the league — too happy.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

During this week’s spring meeting in Minneapolis, NFL owners have approved a series of changes that are set to come into effect beginning in the 2023 season. Monday saw the league endorse an emergency third quarterback and flex “Thursday Night Football” scheduling.

Tuesday saw a key modification to special teams, according to several reports.

On a one-year trial basis beginning in 2023, any fair catch made behind the receiving team’s 25-yard line on a kickoff will result in the ball being placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line. According to Pro Football Focus, 2022 saw no regular-season fair catches on kickoffs; that will undoubtedly change in 2023.

Here is the official language:

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero mentioned that many special teams coordinators unanimously opposed the change. That means it includes Chiefs coordinator Dave Toub, who has coached the third phase in some capacity since 2001.

Over the years, Toub has shown a tendency to allow his kickoff returners to remain aggressive if they feel they have a window to put the offense in a better position, a mentality that has made sense considering the talent of Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and most recently, Isiah Pacheco. This shift will factor into that mentality, given that now the risk of losing precious yardage could be even greater.

A day after approving the start of flex “Thursday Night Football,” the owners cite “player safety” for this rule change — which makes the entire announcement somewhat laughable. It’s growing more difficult to miss that player safety seems to be a selective priority for the league’s top decision-makers.

Update: Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend weighs in

The 2022 first-team All-Pro does not appear to be a fan of the change.

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