Brad Smith: Don’t change the game in the name of player safety


Add Brad Smith of the Jets to the growing list of kickoff returners who don’t agree with the NFL’s decision to move the kickoff by five yards, supposedly to make the play safer.

“That’s our number one goal, is player safety,” Smith told Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio. “But at the same time we don’t want the game to be affected. It’s a physical game and that’s why we love playing it, quite frankly. We love to play because we love the physical contact.”

Smith, who described himself as “disappointed” when he learned of the kickoff change, joins fellow return men Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs, as well as Ravens coach John Harbaugh, in publicly opposing the change.

The six teams voting against moving the kickoff were Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Oakland, Cleveland and Philadelphia. Smith will be disappointed to learn that the Jets voted for the move.

“It just really changes the whole dynamic of a game, one of the most important plays in football,” Smith said. “So there’s going to be a lot of coaches that spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.”

23 responses to “Brad Smith: Don’t change the game in the name of player safety

  1. Poor brad I suggest that you step your game up and stop
    Complaining about this new rule. Since you’re a free agent this
    Year I also suggest that you try to switch league and join either
    Cfl or Ufl. NFL will do just fine without brad smith.

  2. I’m actually torn about the rule change. I KNOW it makes the game safer, but breaking loose on a kick or punt return is damn fun to watch or to do. I used to do it all the time because I was over 6″ shorter than the guys on the other team, like a white Eric Metcalf.

  3. Yet another hypocritical move from the players.

    Perhaps you should have learned to be good at an actual position Brad. Smith, Cribbs, and Hester may be phenoms on the return, but doesn’t make you a cornerstone of the franchise.

  4. i believe they should leave the rules alone roger goodell has done way to many changes to the game of football. football has always beena physical game. and it should stay that way.

  5. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many dangerous plays in football that are going to be legislated out of existence by the rules committee over the coming years.

    The fact is that NFL football is an extraordinarily dangerous sport that routinely leaves the players that play it crippled after they leave the game. Multiple concussions, knees with no cartilage, weight-related cardio and other organ failures, and many other conditions that NFL play routinely cause in the players that are exposed to it.

    It’s like black lung for coal miners but in a multi-headed hydra that kill very early compared to the general population. You almost never hear of an NFL player dying of cancer because they don’t live long enough to join the groups that cancer kills.

    The problem is that both the teams and the players have had an economic incentive to avoid these issues. Those day are coming to an end and even the NFL recognizes that athough the players may not yet.

    The NFL is making so many safety related changes right now because they recognize that in a collective bargaining environment they had some immunity to player and public lawsuits related to these issues and in the absence of collective bargaining they are wide open to litigation. This is only going to become more pronounced over the next few years.

    We’re not talking flag football, but the days of 200 lb safeties launching themselves at players in the open field in the hopes of a devastating hit and fumble are dwindling and probably on their way out the door for good.

  6. What I still don’t get is the 35-yd thing. Completely banning the wedge and limiting how far back kickoff unit players can line up improves player safety without increasing the number of touchbacks, which might be the most boring play in football other than the extra point. But moving the kickoff up by five yards does nothing to increase player safety on all the plays that don’t end up as touchbacks. If the rules committee had just lopped 30 seconds off of regulation under the theory that less plays = less injuries they would have been rightly mocked, but the same sort of logic is in play here.

  7. waaaaaaaaaaaaa i want player safety as long as it doesn’t effect my paycheck. Don’t worry 10 years from now I’ll say look at what kick returning did to me, and try to get more money.

  8. Here is the thing: the players whine that the league doesn’t take their safety seriously, then the league tries to make the league safer and the players whine. For the record, I don’t like the rule change but I am tired of hearing the players constant whining.

  9. Met Brad Smith 2 weeks ago down in the islands… Really as nice a person as you could meet….

    Wish him the best….

    That said, I have a feeling teams are going to pay less for Return guys.. But, in the end returners are going to be just as valuable as guys liek Mike Westoff still coach around the rules… The rest of the Kicimg ST players also start from further back so, I still say the good ST coaches and players will perform..

    In the end, I bet the Jets will have a better shot at keeping Brad Smith due to teams percieving this rule to have more of an effect than it will….

    Bad For Brad Smith but, good for the Jets and their fans!!!

    Good thing for Smith that I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that he will never be one of the many players who go broke after their career – Smith will invest wisely and wind up in the end playing for the team he loves, with the team mates and fans he loves!!!!!!!

  10. More unnecessary changes by people who never played the game, probably at ANY level. They should have stopped at the point where the KO team cannot have more than a 5 yard headstart. But no, they had to take it further.

    They took the most unavoidable and exciting play in football (you can’t kick it out of bounds like they do punts, and all you can do is kick it short which helps the return team) and they cut it by at least 1/3. Way to look out for the fans and pretend this has to do with player safety.

    Remember when they made the rule change saying that if you missed field goal the other team got the ball at the point of the kick. They said it would get more people to go for it and promote more touchdowns, but what it did was increased the number of punts instead of even 50 yard field goals.

    Change for the sake of change? Come on, NFL Cometition committee.

  11. There will be more than 50 % touchbacks.

    Will the price of the seats go down?

    Because you don’t pay 1000 dollars for an important game (bears-packers 3 months ago) to see boring plays.

    You pay beacause you want to see Hester eluding at high speed guys who want to land him a big hit.

  12. Owners are business men and most of their decisions are in the interest of whats best for their business.. This rule change is surely not about player safety but just another way to save money and keep from paying players big contracts that specialize as returners (which is true talent/position).. It just takes away leverage for those players when it comes to contract talks.. Most of the owners have been doing this for a loooong time and could care less about player safety.. If that was the main concern they would’ve made this rule change a long time ago. Money is just the topic of conversation right now so its convenient to change it now.

  13. @mharenza

    What the players really want is to be able to bargain using safety issues as a chip to get more money. When the NFL unilaterally makes the game safer it removes an issue that the players can use in bargaining. That’s why they whine as a group.

    Individually many players really wouldn’t like to see changes at all because they like the game the way it is played now. Typically safeties and linebackers are really happy with the safety situation and wide receivers and running backs are not. Guess who’s doing the hitting and who is getting hit?

  14. During the 2010 regular season, there were 23 kickoff returns for TD’s. The last season that they kicked off from the 35 there were 4. …Touchbacks are far more entertaining and exciting than a boring old TD return…Brilliant move NFL!

    Did everyone see that pathetic shill Rich Mckay from the competition commitee trying to explain why they changed the rule? The most asinine of several idiotic statements that he made was “Player safety will always trump the competitive aspects of the game” ….Yes, because the millions of people who watch, attend and gamble on the games aren’t interested in competition, they just want to make sure everybody plays nice and no one gets hurt.


  15. I wonder if Brad, or the majority of the people making comments here realize that the kickoff was at the 35 yard line up until 1994. This really isn’t the traveshamockery everyone is making it out to be. The only difference is there will be less demand for one-trick ponies like Smith, Cribbs, Devin Hester, and Stefan Logan and more emphasis on kickers who can consistently boot the ball into the endzone (Dave Rayner). How many “return specialists” existed before 1994? The players who were skilled returners prior to moving the ball back to the 30 yard line were actually required to be useful in other aspects of the game.

    The real winners are teams like the Packers who place little value in return men (haven’t had a legitimate one since Allen Rossum), and if you’ve seen their kickoff coverage (they couldn’t tackle Santa Claus running down the middle of the field against New England), an extra 5 yards for Mason Crosby can only help.

  16. The more I read what some of these player say it reminds me of the old saying “its best to keep my mouth shut and let people think that I am a fool, instead of open my mouth and proving it ” I may not have that just right, however you get the point. It seems that they just can’t understand that they are so far off base with there comments, like some saying to not go and shake hands with the commissioner, and yet last night I watch the tight end for NE go on NFL Network, can I say give me a break? Bill

  17. @ uwsptke: When a guy returns kicks, plays WR/QB/HB and is on the punt coverage, he’s not a one trick pony.

    Brad Smith is a nice guy and a hell of an athlete.

    and the reason they moved it back to the 30 yard line in the 90’s is because there were too many touchbacks.

    The NFL is just watering down the game a little at a time

  18. someone needs to make a chart/graph/spreadsheet of major injuries that occur on kickoff/kickoff return compared to general play…i believe more injuries have occurred from receivers running across the middle rather than on kickoff…yes some serious neck injuries have occurred on kickoff….but still… many games are changed from kickoff…. (see the seahawks)

  19. sometimes the interests of good business can converge with doing what’s right (player safety). i think that’s what’s happening here. their implementation may not make everybody happy, nothing does. but it’s still for the good.

    p.s. to one trick pony comments. brad smith runs the wildcat, was a college quarterback. also plays wide reciever and has run the ball a couple of times. his value may go down but he’s hardly a specialist in the narrow sense of the word.

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