Cundiff could be neutralized by proposed NFL rule change

March 16, 2011|By Matt Vensel

In an effort to make kickoffs safer, the NFL's competition committee has proposed a couple of rule changes, including a major modification where the ball is kicked off from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line. And if there's a touchback, the proposal pushes for the ball to be placed at the 25-yard line.

The new rules would make it easier for kickers to boot the ball into the end zone, and the extra five yards tacked on to touchbacks would encourage returners to take a knee in their end zone.

The new rules would also neutralize the field-position advantage the Ravens have with Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff, who last season tied Mitch Berger’s single-season record of 40 touchbacks from the 30-yard line.

Sure, with five fewer yards between him and the opposing team's goal line, Cundiff would have a chance to set a new touchback standard next season if he assaulted the ball like he did in 2010. But the changes would make it less advantageous for Cundiff to boom the ball out of the back of the end zone, and a shorter field means that other kickers will be booting it like Billy, too.

It's also a bummer for fans of football in general. Touchbacks are one of the most boring plays in football, and there are few things in sports more exciting than Devin Hester or Joshua Cribbs taking a kickoff to the house.

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