Kickoffs going away?

That’s what Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, who also played in the league for eight years himself, says may happen. The NFL made the same change as the NCAA did, bringing the touchback out to the 25-yard-line to try to reduce the number of returns, and it did reduce the number of returns. But that change did not reduce the number of concussions; guys are getting their bell rung even as the returner is taking a knee in the end zone. The NFL’s medical people say the concussion rate on kickoffs is five times the rate for non-kickoff plays.

So, Murphy says, either kickoffs have to be made safer or kickoffs will go away. Murphy is on the NFL Competition Committee, which makes the rules and thus has the power to make that happen. The NFL has already banned lowering the head to make a hit, trying to make the game safer, and kickoffs may be next.

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/03/28/kicko … -committee”>https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/03/28/kickoff-rule-eliminate-packers-competition-committee</LINK_TEXT>

I can already envision the protests: “That’s not football.” Well, gang, football changes. The flying wedge was eliminated more than a century ago because people were getting killed. But you never saw football with the flying wedge, so you don’t miss it. Forty-six years ago the undefeated NFL champion Dolphins threw 17 passes a game. A game. Nowadays teams sometimes throw it 17 times a quarter. That’s a much more profound change than getting rid of 10 or so kickoffs per game. At the same time, college football was dominated by the triple option. That’s basically dwindled to four teams – the service academies and Georgia Tech. Do you miss the 'Bone? I didn’t think so.

The college rules are moving to more touch backs. There is a rule pending approval that will allow return men to fair catch a kickoff and the ball goes to the 25. The thought is that anything that eliminates the play that causes the most full speed collisions is a good rule.

Another proposal would put a hat camera for replay purposes with the referee and the umpire. That will provide for some unique tight views that have not been available in the past for replays.

FYI, the replays came up Monday at Swatter’s Club. Van Horn said he likes it and is pleased with the results. He said the replays have eliminated most of the arguments from coaches in SEC play this year. He said umpires seem fine with it and have checked even past when coaches have had challenges available. He said they seem to want to get it right.

I am seeing more teams kick it high and to one corner landing at about the 5 which eliminates one side of the field and good coverage team will not let you get to the 20 so why kick it in the EZ

The ones you write about could be fair caught and put at 25.

I have seen the reports and am aware of this proposal. The problem is, even though the ball is fair caught and not run with, you are still going to have a number of full-speed collisions by the guys engaging before they know that the fall has been fair-caught. In fact, I’d think 80% of the collisions will have taken place by the time the whistle blows the play dead. So, ultimately, this proposal won’t really help all that much.

As a FAN, I hate to see kickoff returns go away. But I absolutely understand why it may. 40 years ago, “getting your bell run” was just part of football. But we know too much of the truth today to look the other way.

I would argue that most of the collisions will be eliminated. I disagree with you on this. The worst collisions are when the two back guys are getting hit. They won’t bet hit much anymore. They are going to know almost immediately that it’s fair caught. When the return man signals, most everyone in the stadium knows the play is over. They will not need a whistle to avoid hitting someone 50 mph. I sure wouldn’t hit anyone if I see the guy calling for a fair catch. He’s going to make that call when the ball is high in the air, just a second or two after the kickoff.