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The worst rule in sports is that a fumble that goes out of the endzone results in a touchback and change-of-possession. That rule cost the Minnesota Vikings in a big way on Thursday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson lost control of the ball and it went out of the endzone towards the end of the first half.
Initially, referees ruled that the ball went out-of-bounds at the one-yard line. However, after replay review, referees reversed the call. Jefferson fumbled prior to reaching the goal line and the ball went over the pylon.
That triggered a touchback, giving the Eagles possession of the football.
This rule is stupid, plain and simple. Everywhere else on the football field, a team must actually gain possession of the football to … you know … get possession of the football.
If the ball had gone out of bounds at the one-yard line, the Vikings retain possession. Instead, the Eagles get the ball.
And fans aren’t happy about it. Not just Vikings fans, but football fans — and analysts — almost universally recognizes this rule as problematic.
Justin Jefferson, Vikings fall victim worst rule in sports during Thursday Night Football against the Eagles
Since I’m a problem-solver and not just a complainer, I’ll answer those who immediately say “well, what SHOULD happen??” Or those who say “don’t fumble out of the endzone.”
What should happen is one of two things. Either the ball goes back to where it was initially fumbled — just like it does anytime a player fumbles a ball forward out of bounds — OR, for those who want the offense punished, let the team keep possession but move the ball back to either the 10 or 20-yard line.
As for guy #2 — who is probably super fun at parties — duh. Don’t fumble the ball ever is terrific advice. I wonder if NFL coaches know that. You should tell them.
Yes, fumbling is bad. But having one separate rule for that one sliver of field is ludicrous. Anywhere else on the field, if the ball goes out-of-bounds, the possessing team keeps it.
The rule is dumb. Change it, NFL.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak