CFL kickoff rules unchanged for 2024, subcommittee formed to examine future

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Canadian Football League fans who were hesitant about potential rule changes coming to kickoffs can officially breathe a sigh of relief.

There will be no changes to the kickoff rules in 2024, the league formally announced on Friday, though a subcommittee is being formed to further examine the league’s current rules as well as rules performed in other leagues.

The subcommittee is comprised of CFL head coaches, representation from the Canadian Professional Football Officials Association, the CFL Players’ Association, and the league office.

This off-season, the CFL had informal discussions regarding their kickoff rules. Two potential changes that were reportedly considered were allowing teams to take the ball at the forty-yard line following a touchdown, just as they currently can after field goals, or a wholesale shift to the kickoff format first used by the XFL, which places players in a line five yards apart.

The NFL announced in March that it had revamped its kickoff rules to follow the format that the XFL first introduced.

“The uniqueness and traditions of Canadian football, and the health and safety of our players are incredibly important,” said CFL vice-president of officiating Darren Hackwood in a statement. “Kickoffs impact the state of our game, player safety, job opportunities and much more. Given the potential magnitude of any changes, this issue cannot be hastily evaluated prior to the season.”

“This subcommittee will take the necessary time to properly study and gather information on kickoffs before recommending any changes to both the CFL rules committee and the joint CFL/CFLPA health and safety committee.”

The league also announced it was ratifying other rule changes for 2024 directly relating to low blocks and decisions made by the command centre.

Low blocks have been adjusted to further define the actions of a backfield player delivering a low block. Backfield players may block a defensive player low who is lined up across, from, or outside of the offensive tackle at the snap if the block occurs in the legal low block zone. The league also removed the requirement for the backfield player to be within the legal low block zone at the snap to make the call easier to officiate, while also heightening player safety by limiting who can be legally blocked low.

No yards has now been added to the list of penalties that can automatically be picked up by the command centre if called incorrectly by on-field officials. Replay officials can only become involved when a clear mistake has been made.

Tripping the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage has also been added to the list of penalties that the command centre can assist on and is now challengeable by a coach.

Coaches are allowed to strategically use a timeout to provide the command centre with more time to automatically review a play that is not challengeable, though only one timeout can be used after the three-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Coaches still only have access to two timeouts per game.