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.