A couple of new NFL rules come out of New Orleans, LA, the host city of the NFL's annual meeting, and one of the rules will affect the kickoff and kick-return phase of the game.
The league passed the new rule that teams will now be kicking from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line. Along with the new placement of the kickoff, touchbacks will now be rewarded the 25-yard line rather than the 20-yard line.
It's obvious that the NFL is trying to "protect" their players by removing as many dangerous collisions as possible, but this is changing the game of football.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media Monday about the new rule.
"I don't like the idea of eliminating the kickoff [return] from the game. I think it's one of the most exciting plays in football. It looks like the Competition Committee is trying to eliminate that play. I don't know if that's really good for the game."
Belichick does bring up a good point, it eliminates "one of the most exciting plays in football."
What gets the stadium rocking more than a kickoff returned for a touchdown on the very first play off the game? There's nothing comparable—it's a great way to "set the tune" of the game.
"The presentation last night, I don't know that it's because of head injuries," Belichick told the media. "The ones they showed, there weren't very many of them. I don't know, I think you should talk to the Competition Committee. They are the ones that really proposed the rule. Talk to Rich McKay and whoever else is on the committee and see what they have to say about it. There are a lot of components to it—four different elements to it. It's kind of a complicated rule."
On kickoffs, players don't using engage in head-to-head contact, it's more a risk of injuring your knee or just your lower body in general.
However, Belichick did have a change of thought Tuesday, when he explained how the rule is much more "simple."
"I think this is a lot simpler. It's clean," he said Tuesday afternoon.
"Based on the numbers, you're still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters," he said. "At the end of the year it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold."
Like Belichick said, it shouldn't have too much effect on the game, since the cold weather will play a major factor in the length of the kick.
Belichick finished his media session saying that he does like the new rule.
Like it or not, it's official, it's a new rule—fans, players, and coaches will just have to deal with it.
Only time will tell how exciting kickoffs will be and how much this prevents serious injuries.
NOTE: This article was first seen at PatriotsPlus.net.
Be sure to follow Tony Santorsa on Twitter @ TonySantorsa.
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