Super Bowl Kickoff

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Iconic Football Play in Danger of Being Eliminated

May 18, 2018 - 1:00 pm

By Tim Barbalace

One of the most exciting plays in football could be on the outs due to increasing safety precautions.  Kickoffs will have a different look to them this upcoming season as multiple proposals will be voted on at the Spring Meetings next week.  If these changes don't lead to fewer injuries, kickoffs may be gone for good.  

“If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it,” Packers president and Competition Committee Member Mark Murphy warned. “It’s that serious. It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game.” 

There is no arguing Murphy's point of kickoffs being the most susceptible play for injuries.   During the NFL Owners Meetings in March, the league's medical department presented statistics showing that concussions are five times more likely to occur on kickoff when compared to an average play.

In recent years, the NFL has been trying to be proactive in rule changes to make the game safer.  According to NFL.com, the league has made 49 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions and strengthen the league's medical protocols.

It's understandable considering recent lawsuits by former players against the NFL and declining participation in rec football because of parents' heightened awareness of potential concussions.  Despite that, continued rule changes may actually hurt the game.

The NFL has been faced with combating declining attendance and viewership over the past few seasons.  Make no mistake, the NFL is still king in popularity and ratings despite a recent slide, but will continued modifications to the game turn more people away?  

Fans have complained for years about the constant rule changes and officiating.  Eliminating kickoffs will only make those people more frustrated.  It will also cause a change in how rosters are constructed.

Seemingly every team has special teams aces on their roster.  What happens to them if kickoffs go away?  It would definitely alter how organizations value special teams players and some could potentially lose their jobs.

I understand why the NFL would do away with kickoffs, but it would still be a sad decision.  Ravens fans will always remember Jermaine Lewis and Jacoby Jones scoring touchdowns on returns in Super Bowls 35 and 47 respectively.  It's hard to imagine football without kickoffs, but that may soon be a reality.

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