Type to search

NFL is Ramping Up the War On Kickoffs

First, the NFL moved touchbacks out the 25-yard-line in an effort to reduce the number of kickoff returns. The rule did just that.

The impetus, of course, is player safety. Or, please stop suing the league.

It appears the league isn’t done with their war on kickoffs yet, though. Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy says the league could realistically eliminate kickoffs. The competition committee, of which Murphy is a part of, saw a presentation from the league’s medical department at this week’s owners meeting. According to Murphy, statistics show that concussions are five times as likely to happen on kickoffs as on an average play.

So even though there are fewer returns, the play remains more dangerous than all others.

“If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it. It’s that serious. It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game,” Murphy said.

He claims the issue with kickoffs is players other than the returner suffer a higher number of concussions.

“The other thing that’s kind of frustrating,” he said, “is there were concussions on touchbacks. So even though there’s no return, [the committee is] looking at what kind of things you can do to make sure people were aware that there’s not even a return. You see this, too: One player lets up, the player covering lets up, and one of the blockers comes over and, you know. That creates problems when you’ve got one player going half-speed and the other one full speed.”

There’s got to be some sort of happy medium here.

I think most would agree. Eliminating kickoffs would suck. One of the greatest plays in Packers’ history is a kickoff return — Desmond Howard in Super Bowl XXXI.

Maybe we should also eliminate interception returns. I see offensive players getting blindsided all the time on those. Ask Clay Matthews about that.

Joseph Bonham

Joseph is a fiction writer when he isn't doing this. In his spare time he likes to do manly things like drink beer and procreate.



  1. PF4L March 28, 2018

    How come we don’t hear n uproar about concussions and CTE in boxing and MMA.

    Any lawsuits in those sports?

    1. cz March 28, 2018

      as usual, i cannot agree more with PF4L

    2. MJ March 29, 2018

      There are some fundamental differences. In football you seek to stop a ballcarrier dead at the point of impact, not to absorb him and fall backwards with him gaining more yards. Therefore, the guys and their heads undergo very strong accelerations, potentially leading to concussions. While in strike-based martial arts you can receive a clean shot to the head, there are many factors that most of the time will reduce the likelihood of a concussion. If you have a guard, and a strike goes through it, the strike is effectively accelerating not just ykur head, but your arms and to some extent your body as well. As the force is spread over more mass, the ensuing acceleration is lower. Then, rarely the one on the receiving end will not have shifted at all, leading mostly to glancing shots. Again, less acceleration. But even in the case of a well led and direct strike, the stroke head is NOT thrusting into the impact, it will be roughly stationary. Less force, less acceleration.

      1. MJ March 29, 2018

        Another point: in a kickboxing stance you typically stick your ch

      2. MJ March 29, 2018

        Agh! The interface works very poorly with Android. It crashes and resets the keybord quite often.
        I was adding another point.

        In a kickboxing stance, you typically stick your chin to you upper chest, as it is well known that a direct strike to the chin will knock you out. Whether that happens due to some nerve connection between the jawbone and the brain or simply because if not tucked down your head has more freedom to quickly accelerate back and consequently the force on the brain produces the black out, I don’t know. However, having tucked your chin down, if you receive direct impact to the head, the neck will absorb much of the force, leading to a smaller acceleration for your head. A straight punch has only the mass of your arm, and to some extent, part of the attacker’s body’s mass moving in your direction. Though it doesn’t seem ideal to me (even though I did practice kickboxing and other martial arts and combat sports), the neck can take that. In football, you have the masses of two rather heavy guys running at each other, too much momentum to be stopped by the mechanical resistance of a human neck. I practiced American football for a year, even though it is not very popular in my country, and the first thing they tell us is that, to tackle you have to look into what you are hitting. Essentially, it means keeping your head up while you hit something. That way, you don’t compress your neck, and your head yields by swinging backwards a little. The good thing is that you have now protected your spine… the bad thing is that your head has just taken a sudden acceleration. In football they are subject to those head accelerations all the time, and though I am not an MD, that doesn’t look to me as the recipe for building a brighter, healthier brain.

  2. PF4L March 28, 2018

    I think Mark Murphy is one of the last people that should be on a committee setting policy. He looks like he’s afraid of his own shadow.

  3. Howard March 28, 2018

    Do the refs blow their whistles when the returner signals to teammates, by raising both arms at 90 degrees that he is not going to return the ball? That is one thing I think would help. Force returners to declare by signal (other than kneeling after they catch the ball) that they are not going to return the ball out of the end zone. Refs immediately whistle the play dead, even if the returner does not complete the catch in the end zone. How often do returners actually muff the ball in the end zone resulting in a turnover? If the returner does not signal then they have catch and take the ball out of the end zone.

    It would still be close if contact would be occurring at the time of, or shortly before a signal could be made.

    I don’t see how you can get rid of kickoffs, if for no other reason than on side kicks. Suprise on side kicks being just as important as those that are declared by alignment.

  4. NachoDan March 29, 2018

    Taking the Foot out of Football.

  5. Cheese March 29, 2018

    “You see this, too: One player lets up, the player covering lets up, and one of the blockers comes over and, you know.”

    Here’s an idea, how about punishing players that do this and actually following through with it? There’s no way that hit on Davante from Thomas Davis last year was by accident. But Thomas pouted, acted remorseful, and low and behold his suspension was cut in half. It’s like the kid who knows he’s gonna get away with behaving badly because his parents don’t hold him to the consequences that they threaten him with. And what does that breed? More bad behavior.

  6. Kato March 29, 2018

    I did get a bad concussion on kickoff. Definitely the most dangerous play in football

  7. Gort March 29, 2018

    The only reason that the Packers want to eliminate the kickoff is to reduce their number of penalties.
    They get a flag on too many returns.