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.