All recommendations of the NFL’s Competition Committee must be approved with a vote of 24 of 32 teams.
To little surprise, one of the teams most dramatically impacted in the short term by a proposed shifting of the kickoff point from the 30 to the 35 likely won’t be voting in favor of it.
Bears president Ted Phillips tells Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune that the defending NFC North champions are inclined not to agree with the move.
“I don’t want to say anything definitively before we have gotten in the meetings,” Phillips said. “So I would say that we’ll listen to the arguments, but we’re a little surprised by the proposal and we’ll probably be against it. With our return game being such a big part of our offense, I would tend to think we would vote against it. There are some aspects to the proposal, including the elimination of the two-man wedge and having all the players except the kicker no more than 5 yards behind the ball, that would be more acceptable than moving the kickoff to the 35.”
It makes plenty of sense. The Bears have Devin Hester, who already holds the NFL record for combined punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Phillips also said that the Bears won’t be tearing up the the torn-up brown cement of Soldier Field and replacing it with a synthetic surface. “We won’t do that,” Phillips said. “We’ve had great success at Soldier Field in December and January. The grass field there will never be top-notch late in the season, but it’s more of a perception issue than a real negative issue. The players know how to play on it, and frankly, it’s been part of our home-field advantage.”
He’s right, but that doesn’t mean the league should tolerate it. We’ve long said that every NFL city in a cold climate should be required to install FieldTurf or a similar product. It’s a safety issue, and with the league supposedly having heightened interest in player safety, the safest and most consistent surfaces should be used at all times.
If the Bears don’t want to promote safety via a changing of the kickoff point, they should at least be willing to provide the players from both teams with the safest surface possible.