Fair Catch Kick Has Been Attempted 26 Times in History of League

Published on December 25th, 2022 4:18 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The obscure NFL rule - Fair Catch Kick.  In photo: Phil Dawson of San Francisco 49ers. There are some very obscure rules in the NFL, including the 1-point safety and the fair catch kick.

The fair catch kick is attempted so rarely that the NFL doesn't even record the statistic.

In the history of the league, the fair catch kick has been attempted approximately 26 times.

The last attempt came in 2019, when Joey Slye of the Carolina Panthers unsuccessfully attempted a 60-yard fair catch kick.

You have to go all the way back to 1976 to find the last instance of a successful fair catch kick, and that was accomplished by Ray Wersching of the San Diego Chargers.


So what is the "fair catch kick"?

When a team calls for a fair catch on a punt from an opposing team, they actually have TWO options for the next play:

1) Snap the football (this is done almost all of the time)

2) Line up for a field goal

That's right - if you make a fair catch, you have the option of immediately lining up for a field goal.

This isn't just any field goal, as it combines elements of the field goal and kick-off.

The defense MUST line up 10 yards off the ball, just like with a kick-off. This means that the field goal kicker will not have any pressure.

A tee may NOT be used for the field goal, though the ball may be held by a member of the kicker's team. A dropkick is also allowed.

The ball is live if the field goal misses, which could allow the other team to return the kick for a touchdown.

The kicker can run up on the ball before kicking it, just like with a kickoff.


There are very specific instances when a fair catch kick might be considered.

Usually the kick is attempted right at the end of the first half when there isn't enough time for another play.

The truth of the matter is that many teams aren't even aware of the rule, as it is so obscure.

There have been times where a fair catch kick would have made sense, but it wasn't used for whatever reason.


Here is an example of a fair catch kick:

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