Josh Cribbs Doesn't Like It, but the NFL's New Kickoff Rule Is Good for Players

Ryan NeimanContributor IIIMarch 22, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Punter Britton Colquitt #4 of the Denver Broncos kicks the ball during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 43-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NFL has passed a revised rule on kickoffs.

The ball will be moved up to the 35-yard line from the 30, but touchbacks will remain at the 20-yard line.  

There has been outcry from players regarding this new rule, such as Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns.

He claims this new rule will limit his ability to make an impact during the game with his electrifying returns.

He believes it will ultimately make him a non-factor during games.  

On the other side of the debate, Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff absolutely loves the idea.

And who can blame him?

Cundiff, who set an NFL record with 40 touchbacks last season, enthusiastically exclaimed as he told Yahoo Sports, "It's the first time they made a rule that benefits a kicker."

Now, the NFL owners are trying to push for an extra two games, and this may be the next step to protect players and to ensure a healthy lifestyle after they are done playing.

In 2010, concussions were up nearly 20 percent from 2009 and nearly as much as 30 percent from 2008.

From the start of the preseason to the eighth week of the 2010 season, there were already 154 concussions reported.  This is a 21-percent increase from concussions that occurred during the same period in the 2009 season.

Players who are arguing that this rule will make football a "soft sport" and that it will make the sport less appealing should take a closer look at the numbers regarding injuries in the NFL.

Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, analyzed data from the 2005-2006 National High School Sports Injuries Surveillance Study to determine which aspects of football were the most dangerous.

They found that about 20 percent of football-related injuries were considered severe.

During kickoff and punt returns, 33 percent of injuries were severe. Of those, 20 percent were concussions.

Dawn Comstock, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, acknowledged the danger of special teams plays.

"During kickoff and punting, a greater proportion of severe injuries occurred, compared to all other phases of play," Comstock told in an interview with Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Concussions can cause dramatic problems in a person's brain.

A player returning too early could suffer from "second impact syndrome," which can be fatal. Sometimes, concussion symptoms can last weeks and even months.

Repeated concussions can cause permanent damage.

Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is still struggling to return from a concussion he suffered last season, and there is not even that much contact in his sport compared to football.  

This is an issue the NFL is serious about standing against and I will stand alongside the league.

Dave Duerson's shocking suicide in February was a wake-up call for many in this dangerous sport that keeps on getting more dangerous every day with players getting bigger and stronger. (In letters to his family, Duerson attributed his death to the personality changes he endured because of the concussions he suffered in the NFL.)

To this day, Troy Aikman continues to say he still has trouble falling asleep and that he is constantly having headaches because of the concussions he suffered several years ago.

Every football career eventually comes to an end and when it does, a player will want his health intact after enduring brutal hits.

When players are ready to hang up their uniforms, their family and friends will be waiting to spend the years to come with them.

If making the kickoff a few yards shorter ensures the players' longevity, I would say it is worth it.