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#pounditSunday, April 21, 2024

NFL unlikely to change 1 controversial rule in 2024

An NFL logo on the field

Feb 1, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; The NFL shield logo is seen at midfield at SoFi Stadium. Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals will be played on Feb. 13, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is looking into some significant rule changes this offseason, but it does not sound like players who fumble the ball through the end zone will be catching a break in 2024.

NFL executive Troy Vincent confirmed in December that the league was planning to have discussions about the rule that awards the defense possession and a touchback if an offensive player fumbles the ball through the end zone. According to Judy Battista of NFL Network, it is unlikely there will be a change to that rule.

“Not much traction at the moment for a change on the fumble-through-the-end-zone rule when possession is awarded to the defense on a touchback. Competition Committee discussed it today. Play happens rarely and feeling is it’s the ballcarrier’s responsibility to protect the ball,” Battista reported on Monday.

The touchback rule typically comes into play when a ball carrier is reaching for the goal line to score and loses possession. Critics of the current rule argue that the offense retains possession in all other situations where a player fumbles the ball out of bounds, so the end zone should be no different. If a player fumbled at the 2-yard line and the ball went out of bounds at the 1, the offense would retain possession at the spot of the fumble.

There is also the argument that the defense is awarded possession on a fumble through the end zone even though they did not recover the ball. The outcome for the defense is the same as if a defensive player recovered a fumble in the end zone.

Those who are in favor of keeping the rule the way it is believe there should be an added responsibility to protect the ball near the goal line. Battista indicated that most members of the NFL’s Competition Committee feel that way.

We saw a fumble through the end zone have a major impact on a playoff game this past season, but it has always been the case that players need to emphasize ball security even more near the goal line. They will have to continue doing that for the foreseeable future.

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