Patriots’ WR throws dig at NFL for prioritizing public image over player well-being with new rule

Athletes throwing jabs at the authority is nothing new! The NFL is introducing back-to-back new rules and the “kick rule” is a new addition to the controversial list.

From the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to the Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh, multiple NFL coaches, and athletes voiced their displeasure against the introduction of the new rule.

Reid said the game might turn into “playing flag football” while throwing a question to the league, “Where does it stop?”, and the Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell cited disappointment stating the decision as “highly frustrating.”

Amid all the negative remarks, the latest outrage came from the New England Patriots’ star wide receiver Matthew Slater.

What is NFL’s new kickoff rule?

According to the new kickoff rule introduced by the NFL, the ball will be placed at the 25-yard line on kickoffs if a fair catch is called behind the 25-yard line, much like college football games. It will allow a player to call for and take a fair catch at the 1-yard line and take the ball all the way out to the 25-yard line.

New kickoff rule

The NFL competition committee member Rich McKay and NFL Exec Jeff Miller said the new change was aimed at reducing the risk of concussions on kickoffs as it is regarded as one of the most dangerous plays on the field.

“the kickoff play has the highest rate of concussion year after year” and that the NFL….kicks that they were hanging to the 5-yard line or inside and getting this advantage, the average start line for those kicks being returned was the 24.3. That is 0.7 different from the 25, so it’s not like there’s a huge advantage here”, Jeff told the media following the change.

Matthew Slater weighs in on new NFL rule

The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater cited his comment at Wednesday’s organized team activity saying he wouldn’t buy the league’s comment of introducing the Kickoff rule for the sake of player’s safety and said he believes the change was initiated to keep the authority in the good book of the media.

“In this case, I just don’t believe that this is truly in the name of player health and safety. What I do believe is [the NFL] want to portray ourselves a certain way to the public, to [the media], that says we care about the players,” said Matthew.

The NFL said the concussion rate on kickoffs will drop by 15% and the number of kickoffs returned will drop from 38% to 31% after introducing the new rule, however, Slater said the league could bring some other changes for the actual benefit of the athletes including Thursday night football, synthetic turf over natural grass fields and players fighting for health care and disability benefits.

Matthew Slater

“They said they’re making the play safer, but the reality is they haven’t done a single thing to make the play safer. They haven’t changed the rules. They haven’t changed the techniques. There are still going to be collisions that occur if the ball’s not fair-caught,” he added.

The 10-time Pro Bowler also acknowledged the kicking game allowed him to enjoy a career full of accolades like Steve Taskers and Bill Bateses.

“For a player like myself, I wouldn’t have had a career most likely [without] this play. I [also] understand the players that came before me — the [Steve] Taskers, the [Bill] Bateses … — who were able to establish themselves and have careers in this league because of the kicking game,” he further added.

What’s your take on the new rule? Do you think that the changes will be helpful for the players? You can share your thoughts with us in the comments.


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Maliha works as a content writer in Sportszion specializing in NFL and NBA. She has completed her graduation and post-graduation, majoring in MIS (Management Information Systems). She loves analyzing sports and keeping fans updated with the latest sport buzzes.


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