When the NFL got blasted for years over its stances on player safety, concessions were coming. Anyone who complained loudly about the league’s handling of concussions can’t logically also complain when rules were put in place to make the game safer.
Part of making the game safer was doing away with kickoffs.
There will technically be kickoffs in the NFL going forward, but mostly in a ceremonial way it seems. This week’s rule change in which teams will take possession at the 25-yard line on fair catches of kickoffs and safety kicks will make for far fewer kickoff returns, at least for the one-year trial of the rule.
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a football lifer, a lock Hall of Famer after two Super Bowl titles the past four seasons. And he’s not happy with the trend, which includes the new kickoff rule.
“My thing is, where does it stop, right?” Reid said, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer. “We start taking pieces and we’ll see how this goes. But you don’t want to take too many pieces away or you’ll be playing flag football.”
That has been and will continue to be the push and pull with NFL rules designed for safety. It’s impossible to make a violent game like football completely safe. But plenty of fans will yearn for things like a safety crushing a receiver coming over the middle. Or kickoffs.
Reid is one of the most respected voices in football. He’s not alone in his opinion either. Plenty of people have bemoaned the rule changes, which sometimes lead to ludicrous penalties, but they’re not going to stop. Ridding the game of most kickoffs, one of the most dangerous plays in the game, shouldn’t be too surprising.
Football is changing. Everyone will adjust even if some, like Reid, are worried about where it’s all headed.