While teams and players of the National Football League prepare for their day in court, behind the scene it is widely rumored that the owners are trying to throw smoke screens to draw attention away from their greediness by trying to play the worried parent.
They are preaching player safety. And while they may have assured less of a health risk for the players involved in the kick return game Tuesday, the truth is that it has not only rubbed some kick returners the wrong way, it has without a doubt created change in the way teams will build their teams.
It has been long understood that a successful NFL team was built not only on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but with a good group of special teams players. With the rules that were passed today, the kick return game seems to have taken a step back into obscureness and it doesn’t have the players that play the return position pleased.
Before we get into the players comments, let’s look into the rule changes. In previous years the kicker had to kickoff from the 30 yard line, the next season that is played it will now be the 35.
Not such a big deal you may think, but this will help the weaker legged kickers to be able to get the ball deep into the end zone making it less likely that a return will be attempted. While other rules such as the coverage team only being allowed to get a five yard head start during kick returns rather than fifteen yards will help some, the fact remains that elite kick returners will be affected where as the average one won’t be noticed as much.
Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns Tweeted his unfondness of the new rules by chirping,
“NFL rule changes are BS… U not making the game safer u messing a great sport, trynna hide behind safety just to add 2 games…smh,” he wrote.
“… This means it will be touchbacks all over the place…,” he continued. “Essentially taking returners out of the game…injuries will still take place, then what move it up again, or eliminate it all together..”
Later on Cribbs went on to say that he didn’t think that this would help with the injury aspect of the return game. Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears also has his own thoughts which he spewed all over the airwaves of Chicago.
“They’re going too far. They’re changing the whole fun of the game,” Hester said Tuesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show”. “Fans come out — especially in Chicago — to see returns. That’s one of the key assets to the team. Fans [like] our big returns. You take that out of the game, not only do they kick it out of bounds when it’s time to punt the ball, now you get the disadvantage on kickoffs. We felt we were guaranteed [a chance] on kickoff returns and now you’re taking that away, it’s like you’re taking the whole return game out of the picture.”
Player safety, smoke screens or something in between? Personally I think this is a step back in the excitement of the game. The Chefs would like to know your opinion though. Call up on a future show and give us your take.