After only one week of preseason games, a ton is already being made about the new NFL kickoff rule. It is no secret that the rule change was put into effect to protect players and increase the amount of touchbacks. An increased number of touchbacks means a decrease in high speed collisions. There is one way the NFL could eliminate kick returns altogether, and that would be to eliminate kickoffs. According to Bill Belichick, that is the direction the league hopes to head in.
According to Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com, Belichick hinted on Monday that the NFL intends to eliminate kickoffs altogether. When pressed further, the Patriots coach basically said it was a fact and not his opinion.
“That’s what they told us,” he said hastily. “I’m not speaking for anyone else. That’s what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play.”
Belichick certainly is not the most trustworthy figure in the NFL, but he really has no reason to make something like that up. Considering the Bears already boycotted the rule change and many believe kicking from the 35 will take excitement out of the game, league spokesman Greg Aiello felt the need to refute Belichick’s claim in an email.
“(Chairman of the Competition Committee) Rich McKay and (NFL Vice President) Ray Anderson say that’s not accurate,” Aiello wrote. “They said the Competition Committee’s position was that they wanted to ‘shorten the field’ and that the movement of the kickoff line would potentially reduce the number of kickoffs to be returned. They said they are unaware of anyone saying that it was intended to ‘eliminate’ the kickoff return.”
Again, the best way to eliminate kick returns would be to eliminate kickoffs. Depending on how serious the league is about removing this potential “danger” from the game, it would make sense to consider the possibility of a game without kickoffs someday. I think I speak for everyone in urging the NFL to not be ridiculous.
Chest bump to Pro Football Talk for the story.Google+