The Hot Corner column: The NFL is proposing more changes to the kickoff—which is one of the most dangerous plays in football.
According to ESPN, the kickoff has "survived another year," But NFL executives are attempting to change the kickoff so it is safer.
The bulk of the proposed changes include eliminating pre-snap movement, shortening the distance between the kicking team and the return team and eliminated the two-man wedge. These changes would make the kickoff act similar to a punt with zero moving bodies before the ball is kicked.
But the question continues to pop into NFL fans heads, should we change the kickoff?
In an era of football that includes both knowledge and understanding of the risks surrounding concussions the answer is, yes we should make changes to the kickoff.
Personally, I am a fan of leaving things the way that they are but the NFL has offered zero real solutions that can be implemented in the coming years to keep players safe on kickoffs. Equally as important the new rule change seems completely logical, and does not eliminate the need for an electric return man.
Players such as Devin Hester or Deion Sanders could still have lived out their illustrious careers as return men. The ball is still being kicked deep and the ball carrier still needs speed and skill to take it to the house.
However, kickoff returns were not a major part of the game last year from some team. The Carolina Panthers lead the league with an 85.39 percent touchback percentage on kickoffs. While that number may appear to be an anomaly only nine teams had touchback percentages below 50 percent. The kickoff just is not what it used to be.
The NFL has been criticized for recent rule changes, but this change is warranted and practical. In 2017 concussions were five times as likely to occur on kickoffs as compared to other plays, according to the ESPN article, and even though players know what they are signing up for, that is not a solid argument.
Concussions came into main stream focus a few years ago, which was too late for many NFL players to either change sports or retire before permanent brain damage. For some people these sports are more than just a game, they are a lifelong passion and means of supporting their family. There is no way a majority of players would be able to reconsider playing football with out repercussions.
I would like to see the kickoff remain, but at this point in time it is best the NFL take proactive measures. It is also important to note that just because a rule changed does not mean it can never go back to the way it was.
This potential rule change is the perfect balance of safe, while letting players play the game. It may be weird to see on Sundays, but it is a move the NFL must make.