The NFL’s end zone touchback rule has been the target of ridicule this afternoon after the Cleveland Browns were victimized by it.
It does seem like a popular opinion that the NFL should change its touchback rule, which gives possession of the ball to the defense if the offensive team fumbles the ball out of the end zone. The defense gets the ball at its own 20-yard line even though no one recovered the fumble in the field of play.
Regardless of what you may think a better alternative would be, most people should be able to agree that the NFL’s recent justification for not discussing changing the rule is a shortsighted one.
According to Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, the league’s competition committee hasn’t considered changing the rule because it doesn’t come into effect often enough.
When NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay explained a couple years ago why that rule wasn't changed, he said, “There were eight instances this year, three the year before and three the year before that. We did not believe it merited a proposal."
— Brad Gagnon (@Brad_Gagnon) January 17, 2021
This is silly. Sure, it doesn’t happen often, but it just happened in a really important time in a postseason game, so clearly the rule matters.
My position is simple: let the team that fumbled keep the ball, but they have to take it at the 20-yard line instead of having it where the player actually lost possession.
This seems like a fair change.