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NFL could remove major part of game after safety summit - report

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The NFL is convening a player safety summit at its headquarters in New York City on May 1-2 to discuss, among other things, the future of the kickoff.

The meeting will focus on ways to make kickoffs safer. There will also be talk of possibly eliminating the play entirely.

Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the league’s competition committee, is a proponent of eliminating the kickoff if it cannot be made safer.

“If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it. It’s that serious,” Murphy told NFL.com late last month. “It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game.”

Sporting News reported that players are five times as likely to suffer concussions on kickoffs than on any other play.

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League owners voted last month to make the 25-yard line touchback rule permanent as a way to encourage more touchbacks and less kickoffs, but some think that’s not enough.

“We’ve reduced the number of returns,” Murphy told reporters. “But we haven’t really done anything to make the play safer.”

According to NBC’s Pro Football Talk, the committee asked head coaches and special teams coordinators to braninstorm solutions to the problem of concussions suffered on kickoffs.

Retired NFL player Steve Tasker, one of the best special teams players ever, will be a part of the summit. “In addition to former players, the meeting is expected to include team executives, along with current and former coaches,” ESPN reported.

Last week on the “Dan Patrick Show,” Saints special teams coach Mike Westhoff offered an alternative to kickoffs that he believes would be safer.


Do you want the NFL to eliminate kiockoffs?

“I want to change it, in essence, from a kickoff return to a punt return. I want to kick off from the 25-yard line because I want every ball to be returned, Westhoff told Patrick.

“But then what I would do, is I would have the normal restraints, and then in the next 10 yards, I want the return team to have to line up eight or nine guys. So I want the blockers in a close proximity. I want to change the proximity of collision from a 40-yard run, to a 10-yard run,” Westhoff said.

“I still want to have a play so I can develop players, and quit turning the game into a singular game where it’s all about the quarterback,” he added.

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The concept of eliminating kickoffs has been embraced by the Alliance for American Football, a new league launching in February 2019. The AAF, headed up by TV producer Charlie Ebersol and former Colts general manager Bill Polian, will not have kickoffs or onside kicks.

Will the NFL follow suit? Only time will tell.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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