Is moving kickoffs to the 35 a good idea?

August 22, 2011

Yes, if you like touchbacks

Peter Schmuck

Baltimore Sun

No doubt the NFL had its heart in the right place when the owners decided to move the kickoff line up 5 yards and reduce the take-off distance for the kickoff coverage team. That should lead to fewer injuries on special teams, so who could possibly be against it?

Well, er, me. The kickoff used to be one of the most exciting plays in football. Now, they might as well just place the ball at the 20-yard line and cut the game-day rosters to 40 players. Either that or move the ball up to the 30-yard line after a touchback to encourage coverage teams to keep the ball in play.

The NFL needs to rethink this rule before the start of the regular season.

pschmuck@tribune.com

Duller but safer

Dan Pompei

Chicago Tribune

Moving the kickoffs to the 35-yard line is not going to make the NFL a more exciting game. It's going to make the NFL a more boring game.

But the point that's getting lost in all of this is the rule change is going to make the NFL a safer game. That's why the NFL tinkered with the kickoffs.

The kickoff return traditionally is the most dangerous play in the NFL. The injury rate, and specifically the head injury rate, on kickoff returns is much higher than it is on any other play. And it makes sense when you consider it is the only play in which multiple players are colliding when running unimpeded at full speed.

Fewer kickoffs, then, means a safer game — even if it means a duller one.

dpompei@tribune.com

Smart and safe

Sam Farmer

Los Angeles Times

A couple of years ago, Carson Palmer predicted something horrifying: With the increasing size and speed of players, coupled with the ramped-up violence of the game, an NFL player would die on the field.

Were that to occur, there's a decent chance it would happen on a kickoff. Nowhere are collisions more brutal.

There's no way the league would do anything to dampen the most exciting play in football if there wasn't a real and increasing danger of a terrible outcome. Call it the wussification of the game if you like, but it was a good move in the name of player safety. This was just a return to the old system. And, in the name of keeping players a little safer, it was a smart move.

sfarmer@tribune.com

Ridiculous decision

Mike Berardino

Sun Sentinel

It's bad enough all scoring plays must now be reviewed, no matter how obvious. But this decision? Ridiculous.

If player safety was the primary concern, outlawing the three-man blocking wedge and restricting coverage teams to a 5-yard run up were sufficient. But modern kickers are far too powerful to let them move back to the 35. That's why you've already seen several teams kick off from their 30. Not as a matter of rebellion, but simply in an effort to evaluate young coverage candidates.

Of course, once the regular season starts, the only type of kickoff return you'll likely see will come on squib kicks or onside attempts. Everything else will be through the end zone.

mberardino@tribune.com

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