You know what NFL rule is nonsensical? The new kickoff rule. Kickoffs are the one play when everyone in the stands is on their feet. Fans want to see kick return specialist knife through defenders, run over tacklers, and break free to the end zone. Remember how exciting it was when Devin Hester ran 92 yards on the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI? The new NFL rule change to move the kickoff from the 30 yard line to the 35 is taking away the thrill that used to exist. More and more kickoffs are ending eight yards deep into the end zone so returners have to decide if they take the gamble.
The reason for the rule change is player safety. Would-be-tacklers were allowed a 15 yard head start before the ball was kicked. The new rule instituted allows for only a five yard head start. This is done to reduce the number of violent collisions often resulting in concussions. Whatever. The only people concerned about concussions are moms. An NFL player chooses to play football just like I choose to stare at my computer screen all day knowing I could go blind.
Before the rule change was implemented, kickoffs the last two seasons were either touchbacks or kicked out of the end zone 16.25% of the time. Returners were given the chance to take the kickoff and carve their way through tacklers. Through week three of the current season, kickoffs have not been returned at an alarming rate of roughly 50%.
With the NFL’s all-time leader in combined touchdowns for kickoffs and punt returns, Devin Hester leads a special teams group considered amongst the NFL’s best. They rely heavily on great field position from kickoff returns especially while their offense struggles this year. This season, the Bears average starting field position is their own 19.8 yard line, which equates to 12 fewer yards than last year. As a fan of the Bears who wouldn’t want to see either Hester or Johnny Knox return a kickoff? This new rule has taken away from the excitement when the ball lands out of the end zone. It’s like the air has been taken out of the stadium. Before the start of the current season, Bears fans had become accustomed to the potential of kickoffs being returned for touchdowns. The league has taken away a part of the game that so many of us look forward to. The NFL has been called the No Fun League. This is a good reason why.