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NFL says concussions on kickoffs declined by 50 percent in 2011

NFL-kickoff-rule-may-be-game-changer-CHC9JH7-x-large Getty Images

When the NFL announced that it would change some rules on kickoffs for the 2011 season, player safety was the stated reason.

Specifically, the league said, moving kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 would result in more touchbacks and therefore fewer collisions on returns. And preventing players on the kickoff team from getting a running start of more than five yards could slow down some of those collisions as well.

Based on one year of concussion data, the co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee says it appears that the new rules did, in fact, lead to significantly fewer concussions on kickoffs.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Hunt Batjer says there were 50 percent fewer concussions on kickoffs in 2011.

“We just got the data recently,” Batjer said. “It looks to me like a decreased number of runbacks played a role.”

Batjer adds, however, that there did not seem to be much of an impact on other types of injuries. But a 50 percent reduction in concussions is a sure sign that this is a rule change the NFL will keep.

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56 Responses to “NFL says concussions on kickoffs declined by 50 percent in 2011”
  1. lgbarn says: Feb 16, 2012 3:20 PM

    This is a no brainer…pun intended…kickoffs are brutal part of the game

  2. phillipalpha says: Feb 16, 2012 3:21 PM

    Screw the 50% decline – i want to know, how many concussions in 2011 compared to 2010?

    If we are talking about a decline from 4 to 2 – well then this is not doing any major difference.

    If we are talking a decline from 100 to 50 or any other major decrease, then we can talk about it.

    But don’t just say 50% decrease!

  3. marionbarber24isgod says: Feb 16, 2012 3:22 PM

    Good

  4. worldwidebleater says: Feb 16, 2012 3:23 PM

    Is that a drop from 700 to 350 or from 4 to 2? The raw data would give a better perspective.

  5. hineswardcriesafterfumbling says: Feb 16, 2012 3:23 PM

    What was the percentage of decline for kickoff returns? It seems to me that the numbers aren’t proportional. Kickoff returns seemed to decline by more than 50%…

  6. jaggedmark says: Feb 16, 2012 3:24 PM

    Concussions will decline by 100% if they eliminate kickoffs.

  7. cshearing says: Feb 16, 2012 3:25 PM

    Yes, essentially removing kickoff returns reduced concussions. How could it not?

    I have the ultimate extension of that idea: remove hitting. Hitting causes all concussions, so removing it would reduce concussions drastically. That’s a rule that will be “here to stay”.

  8. silverandblack052099 says: Feb 16, 2012 3:26 PM

    In related news exciting kickoff plays decreased by 90%

  9. mataug says: Feb 16, 2012 3:27 PM

    can one imagine what the numbers would look like if they banned tackling ?

  10. dutchrudder says: Feb 16, 2012 3:27 PM

    Concussions wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they wore helmets with hard foam on the outside instead of hard plastic. But they look dumb, so instead they will just change the rules to make it ‘safer’.

  11. cballlv11 says: Feb 16, 2012 3:29 PM

    Get us the numbers PFT! Otherwise this is meaningless! The NFL might be blowin smoke in our eyes!

  12. domeunit says: Feb 16, 2012 3:30 PM

    Congrats, you made sure there were less concussions on the kickoff. The NFL also turned it into the least exciting play of the game

  13. shaner329 says: Feb 16, 2012 3:36 PM

    The excitement for kickoffs decreased by an even greater percentage

  14. dawkinseffect says: Feb 16, 2012 3:37 PM

    50%? thats like 4 less then last year?

  15. georgebrett says: Feb 16, 2012 3:42 PM

    2 things

    1) How many less concussions were there this year than last year

    2) Give us more data than just 1 year to the next. That’s foolish, give us at least a 10 year window with number from each year and who was returning the kicks.

  16. klunge says: Feb 16, 2012 3:44 PM

    This is due to the early retirement of Zack Follett, not the lame new kickoff rule.

  17. buckybadger says: Feb 16, 2012 3:47 PM

    Without the original number 50% is meaningless to me.

    Of course they would decrease but if you didn’t play football at all you would increase that number by another 50%. Can’t get a concussion if you aren’t doing anything and that is really what their solution is here.

    What was the % of concussions this year on returned kicks? Was that any less?

  18. buckybadger says: Feb 16, 2012 3:50 PM

    dutchrudder says:
    Feb 16, 2012 3:27 PM
    Concussions wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they wore helmets with hard foam on the outside instead of hard plastic. But they look dumb, so instead they will just change the rules to make it ‘safer’.

    ————————

    You might decrease the concussions but broken necks would increase a lot. So many to the point that teams would have 20 to 25 guys on IR.

    The outside of the helmet has to be a of a hard substance that will glance off anything that it comes into contact with. If you they used a foam substance as you suggest when two players collide their helmets would form with each other not letting the helmet to continue with its motion and the players would break their neck because the helmet would stay where their body would keep moving.

    Don’t really thing that all the money and research that the NFL puts into this that they didn’t already think of a solution as easy as making foam helmets?

  19. jakek2 says: Feb 16, 2012 3:51 PM

    Just start at the 20 and get rid of extra points. That will save me an hour of my precious Sunday having to sit through commercials.

  20. footballprophet says: Feb 16, 2012 3:58 PM

    Mark my words. Football will be outlawed within 20 years because of the fools who started this concussion baloney. The lawyers are involved now so there is no stopping this train? The do-gooders like the ones running this site will only have to look in the mirror to see who’s to blame.

  21. rcali says: Feb 16, 2012 3:58 PM

    Will we still watch the NFL one day if it turns into a weekly pro bowl calibur game?

  22. cliffordc05 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:03 PM

    It would be nice to know the total number of injuries involved but this is progress in any case. The rule is working and should be continued.

  23. numberoneinthehoodg says: Feb 16, 2012 4:03 PM

    Interest in kickoffs dropped by 50%, those looking for physical play increased in Hockey by 50%.

  24. rc33 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:08 PM

    But isn’t that 50% figure being offset by the 50% rise in unwitting fans in the end zone being hit in the head with kickoffs?

  25. grandpoopah says: Feb 16, 2012 4:09 PM

    Concussions will be down 100% once Goodell institutes two-hand touch rules.

  26. sonvar says: Feb 16, 2012 4:10 PM

    I agree with a lot of the posters the raw numbers would be better to see than the percentage.

    Though to be honest I still don’t like this change in the NFL and it’s bothersome that it sounds like the NCAA will implement the same for college. Kickoffs are exciting and brutal plays. If this really sticks I’m waiting for them to announce that punt returns are no longer occurring.

  27. stillers6 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:10 PM

    If the NFL is really serious about the concussions they will just take away the kickoffs completely. To me, although the concussions are reduced significantly because a lot of the kickoffs result in touchbacks, it would seem pretty logical the kickoffs that actually get returned have a pretty high rate of concussions. I don’t see how you can take the punt out of the game but they might as well just take the kickoffs away at this point if everyone is acknowledging that head injuries are this important.

  28. buckybadger says: Feb 16, 2012 4:12 PM

    footballprophet says:
    Feb 16, 2012 3:58 PM
    Mark my words. Football will be outlawed within 20 years because of the fools who started this concussion baloney. The lawyers are involved now so there is no stopping this train? The do-gooders like the ones running this site will only have to look in the mirror to see who’s to blame.

    ——————

    Concussions aren’t some made up thing, they are very real.

    Outlawed? No not a chance. We still have boxing. As long as people want to watch and participate it will be there.

    Will the sport suffer in popularity like boxing? Maybe but it will have nothing to do with the so called “do-gooders” but because parents won’t be putting their kids in the sport because of the brutality of it and the product on the field will suffer because the talent pool will thin out. Won’t be 20 years but if they ever stop playing in HS it could really put a hurt on the sport.

  29. shaner329 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:19 PM

    I read into it more and found out they’re still unsure what the actual number of injuries from kick returns was in 2011. No clue why they are saying 50%. As for reported statistics, this is what I found:

    •2011 — 0.594 concussions a game (190 in 320 preseason and regular-season games)

    •2010 — 0.679 concussions a game (218 in 321 preseason and regular-season games).

    The question is how many of those 28 less concussions was a result of the new kickoff rule or the stricter helmet to helmet fines/suspensions this season.

  30. dynast77 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:24 PM

    Conversely, fan-boredom comas increased by 50% during that time.

  31. dsimp724 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:28 PM

    If the tv ratings around kickoffs declined by 50 pct watch how fast goodell would have them kicking off from the 10 yd line

  32. singao1 says: Feb 16, 2012 4:55 PM

    In other related news, the NFL has announced that players will now play flag football and they will not be allowed to touch each in any way or they will be fine $20,000,000.00.

    This is crazy… Football players know what the dangers are of playing football… That’s why they get paid the salaries that they get. If they are afraid that they might get hurt, then don’t play.

    What, did they think that smacking each other at full strength and throwing their bodies around wouldn’t lead to any issues… come on guys! they know the what the dangers are and they still choose to play. Leave the rules alone and let them play. If they get hurt, well guess what… what did you except?

    That’s why we spend so much cash at the stadiums, to watch gladiators duke it out!

  33. radrntn says: Feb 16, 2012 5:03 PM

    touchbacks were up by 200%

  34. weimtime says: Feb 16, 2012 5:14 PM

    Is that a percentage change from 2010 to 2011 or is that a percentage reduction based on proportionate data?

    Meaning if there were a 100 concussions in 2010 and 50 in 2011 OR for every 100 kicks returned in 2010, there were 10 concussions as opposed to 2011 when there were 5 concussions per 100 kickoffs?

    I have a feeling the NFL looked at the straight number of instances and compared the two instead of using basic stats. If for every kickoff in 2010 that was returned resulted in 10% concussion (say 10/100), how much you want to bet the percentage was the exact same, but the TOTAL number was less (say 5/50)?

    That’s gonna happen when there are simply less returns, which of course doesn’t solve the issue totally, it just reduces the cases, but not the likelihood a concussion could occur on a returned ball.

  35. gadgetdawg says: Feb 16, 2012 5:26 PM

    I personally don’t care. Kickoff returns are some of the best plays in football. You could reduce concussions by like 95% if you convert the game to flag football. I don’t think that would make the game better either.

  36. jhumbe says: Feb 16, 2012 5:38 PM

    This is such BS… I refuse to believe they know if/when the exact play guys are concussed during a game… and if you ask the concussed player, how can they be for certain?

    Just another NFL PR move trying to trumpet their stupid rule change.

  37. garyman1 says: Feb 16, 2012 5:53 PM

    The NFL will end up having enormous helmets…the size of small volkswagons.

    They’ll be tested by having Rex Ryan wear one jumping off a building. After landing, if Rex predicts a Super Bowl victory for the Jets, his brain will deemed as “normal” for him and the helmet will pass the test.

  38. faulkana says: Feb 16, 2012 5:54 PM

    Kickoffs suck now.
    Every time there is a kickoff, I am reminded of how much I hate the new rule.

  39. ahs2 says: Feb 16, 2012 5:57 PM

    Ahhh, statistics! Well, if touchbacks increased by more than 50% than the concussion problem has not improved but actually gotten worse.

    What’s the data for increase in touchbacks? I’m sure it’s more than 50%!

  40. essentialsausage says: Feb 16, 2012 5:58 PM

    Doesn’t that mean that kick returns have actually become much more dangerous? I mean, hasn’t the number of kick returns been reduced by MORE than 50%?

  41. macbull says: Feb 16, 2012 6:08 PM

    The NFL could mandate the use of a helmet that would greatly reduce concussion, right now!

    But for some reason, the NFL refuses to put player safety first, preferring to begin a propaganda campaign, showing how fining the players for helmet to helmet hits, makes the game safer.

    Just in case you didn’t figure out the NFL’s end game, fining the players for the way they tackle…the NFL can claim, it’s not their fault the players are getting concussions…it’s the players fault…

    …..in short, the NFL is attempting to escape legal liability for their part in the concussion matter.

    The NFL withheld medical information from their players dating back to the 1920s. The NFL knew the danger concussions and the potential damage to their players brains. Yet the NFL did not share that information with it’s players.

    In the middle of 2010, the NFL players learned of the medical information the NFL had hide from them for 90 yrs. Once that information was known by the players, many sought legal advice.

    In the fall of 2010, Roger Goodell began fining players for the way they tackled.

    …COINCIDENCE?…I think not.

    The concussions continued at an alarming rate in 2011, even though the NFL’s concussion protocol of fining and suspending players for the way they tackled completed it’s second season.

    Best way to stop the concussions?….mandate the use of the ProCap and Roger Goodell could do that now…but he won’t. The NFL is more worried about their legal liability than they are the players safety…

    …a simple matter of priorities, IMO

    Oh, concerning this kickoff data…if the kickoff results in a touchback, there is no play, thus the reduction of concussions on kickoffs. So what is next…no plays from the line of scrimmage or flag football?

    Fix the helmets and stop messing with America’s game.

  42. maddenisfordorks says: Feb 16, 2012 6:10 PM

    Well just as long as those young millionaires are safe and comfy, I’m happy too.

  43. birdbrainsnj says: Feb 16, 2012 6:15 PM

    So did kickoff viewership. Td’s now turn into extended bathroom breaks. Thanks for killing another part of the game Goodell.

  44. bigal5654 says: Feb 16, 2012 6:29 PM

    I dunno… I went from 0 to 1 banging my head into the wall after watching zillions of touchbacks.

  45. mrcogburn says: Feb 16, 2012 6:46 PM

    And the entertainment value declined by 100%.

  46. sportsrube90 says: Feb 16, 2012 7:02 PM

    Can anyone even name who got a concussion in 2010 from a kickoff? not saying there wasn’t any but it’s not like there concussions every play either.50 %means nothing to me because we don’t know the number.

  47. yevrag3535 says: Feb 16, 2012 7:11 PM

    NFL says concussions on kickoffs declined by 50 percent in 2011, – that being said the TV commercials have probably been up 50 percent also. More money in there pockets.

  48. kingjoe1 says: Feb 16, 2012 7:30 PM

    The other report on injuries is on NFL.com list other area’s which could assist in the reduction of concussions. The one which would reduce the concussions the most is not far fetched.

    It was determine by MIT professors that if the NFL went entirely to a flag football league, concussions would be reduced by 93.5%. That is a big number and by god the safety of the players is the most important.

    Boxing also is considering switch to pillow fights to reduce concussions in its matches as well.

  49. mikel119 says: Feb 16, 2012 8:24 PM

    and yhe ball only returned half the time …to stop concussion 100% just put the ball on the 20.. or better yet whoever wins the coin toss is the winner game over..

  50. regis18 says: Feb 16, 2012 8:38 PM

    If they eliminated the kickoff altogether, the NFL could reduce kickoff concussions by 100%. Not advocating this, just commenting on the logic.

  51. hodag54501 says: Feb 16, 2012 9:02 PM

    Well I’m advocating eliminating the kickoffs. If the NFL is going to have the kickers tee it up where they do, I’d rather see the ball always placed at the 20 yard line and start the next series. It would speed up the game as well. Why go through the motions of a meaningless play?
    When one team scores, the ball is placed on the 20 and the next team starts there.

  52. lemmam says: Feb 16, 2012 9:38 PM

    I’ll guarantee you every player in the league like the new kickoff rule. If this is one way to protect players I am all for it. Of course there are people here who want to see injuries and guys knocked unconcious every play

  53. lemmam says: Feb 16, 2012 9:41 PM

    No, there were NOT more commercials this year. The number of commercials is approved by the league and network. If you don’t work on the sidelines of an NFL game you may want to keep quiet on things you have no clue

  54. footballprophet says: Feb 17, 2012 4:57 AM

    If there were anymore commercials during a game then the game would be the commercials and the commercials would be the show……….Kinda like the Super Bowl.

  55. georgebrett says: Feb 17, 2012 11:20 AM

    I’ve always thought the helmet should have 2 layers of hard with 2 layers of soft.

  56. buckybadger says: Feb 17, 2012 3:47 PM

    It might. The NFL does a lot of research on this and I have to think they want to limit these injuries as much if not more than we do. If it was that simple I would think it would have been done by now.

    I have thought about this exact thing. A softer foam helmet with a light plastic covering to prevent the sticking a soft cover would have. I personally can’t think why it wouldn’t work other than it might be to heavy to have on your head which also can cause whiplash or a broken neck.

    Something has to be done but it is hard when a lot concussions aren’t caused by the hit so much as a running fast and suddenly stopping. The brain than moves inside the skull.

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