The NFL has a serious problem when it comes to concussions. They are attempting all kinds of rule changes to figure out ways to make the game safer or there wont be a game in the future. It’s not hyperbole, the NFL already has a billion dollar lawsuit settlement that they have agreed to pay to former players. The next lawsuit would be even more if they can’t show that they are trying to make the game safer.
This year’s major changes being considered are to the kickoff, and they would fundamentally change the play. The changes being considered by NFL owners are huge and would make the play much more like a punt than the kickoff as we currently know it.
Here is a clear breakdown of the proposed changes:
These changes are actually pretty interesting with the receiving team being forced to have 8 players lined up so close to the kickoff line and with the kicking team having to stay within a yard of the kickoff line themselves to limit their running head start. It also only allows double team “wedge” blocks within the certain area instead of being allowed anywhere.
The excitement should still be there with these changes because the returners should have more space to work with, but the rules will limit the full speed collisions that are so devastating under the current rules. It also would make teams try to get touchbacks more often because the chances of better returns. Encouraging touchbacks is something that the NFL has been vocal about as another way to increase the safety of the play for several years now.
Next week is the owners spring meetings where they will vote on whether to institute these new rule changes. They will need a super majority of 24 out of the 32 teams voting yes in order to make the rule change. Considering the need for the NFL to make the game safer to help them with future lawsuits it seems very likely that these new rules will be ratified.