Can You Fair-Catch a Kickoff in the NFL?

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The receiving team has the right to call for a fair catch during a kickoff, just like during a punt. Once a player calls for a fair catch, he has the right to catch the ball without any kind of interference from the kicking team.

A fair catch is called for by the receiving player by raising one arm above his head and waving his hand. This must be done while the ball is mid-flight. Due to the manner in which a fair catch is called, it is illegal for a receiver to shield his eyes from the sun if he raises his hand higher than his helmet.

Once the player catches a ball for which he has called fair catch, the play ends, and the receiving team starts its drive at the spot where the ball was caught. The receiver is not allowed to advance the ball or attempt to gain yardage in any way.

If a fair catch is called and the ball is touched by any member of the receiving team but is not caught, the fair catch is called off. This presents a free ball to any player on the field. If a player signals for a fair catch, he is not required to catch it. However, the player is no longer eligible to block players on the opposing team unless contacted first.