Devin Hester on kickoff changes: “That rule is pointless”

Bears return man Devin Hester thinks it was stupid of the NFL to move kickoffs up five yards, and he’s not afraid to say so.

After a Week One that saw more touchbacks than usual but also more touchdown returns than usual, Hester said nothing really changed, and that the NFL passed a rule that was ostensibly about player safety but didn’t really have an impact.

“It’s just showing the NFL that moving the line up five yards didn’t budge things a bit,” Hester told the Chicago Tribune. “They got a couple touchbacks but you’ve still got guys bringing it out and at the end of the day that rule is pointless. It’s not going to prevent concussions because guys are bringing it out five to eight yards deep in the end zone. We’re still coming out with it. And that’s taking away from some of the fun in the NFL because guys are going to bring it out regardless.”

Hester is far from alone. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks more touchbacks will mean fewer injuries, but most of the players who are putting their bodies on the line seem to want to keep the game the way it is.

33 responses to “Devin Hester on kickoff changes: “That rule is pointless”

  1. The thing is, that Hester is precisely wrong here. The rule has increased the number of touchbacks, so there are fewer opportunities for injuries, but it also hasn’t reduced the number of long, exciting kickoff returns. In essence all we’ve done is traded those returns where the guy runs it out of the end zone and is tackled between the 15 and 25 for touchbacks where a player takes a knee. I don’t think anybody is actually going to miss “running the ball out to the 22.”

    Through one week of play, the kickoff rule change has demonstrated itself to be effective (by increasing the number of touchbacks) and tolerable (since it hasn’t reduced the number of exciting plays.) This is only one week though.

  2. One way to look at this from a player safety standpoint is this:

    1. Players are continuing to return balls from the back of the endzone

    2. This increases the distance a player must run on the field to get to the other endzone

    3. This increases the amount of time this “dangerous play” lasts

    4. Therefore, there is more opportunity for a player to be injured on this kind of play than if they had a shorter field

    Thumbs up if you agree!

  3. Just because its going to be a touchback doesnt mean there isnt going to be contact. Players dont let up they are still flying down the field to make a play.
    If the league wants no contact on the kickoff just eliminate it and put the ball on the 20.
    But who in the right mind wants to take out one of the most exciting plays of the game?

  4. We’ll have to keep watching week to week, but the effects, as he describes them–more touchbacks and more touchdowns–both show that it has so far reduced the number of plays where the ball carrier takes a serious hit. Buuuut he’s not paid for his rhetorical skills.

  5. If anything it makes it count for more when they bring it out. I.E. Ted ginn basically winning that game for the 9ers and Percy helping that game against san diego not look like the blowout it could have been.

  6. all these regulations on tough hits, kickoffs, not hittin qb’s, its all weak. keep the integrity of the game. Dont turn the league soft w this nonsense. These are men playin. let em play

  7. “The thing is, that Hester is precisely wrong here. The rule has increased the number of touchbacks, so there are fewer opportunities for injuries, but it also hasn’t reduced the number of long, exciting kickoff returns”

    You just contradicted yourself. The whole “player safety” issue dealt mostly with concussions and spine injuries on kickoffs (because players were knocking heads from 40 yards apart and at full speed in opposite directions). By making the returns “longer” which is in effect what they’ve done, this means more time to build up steam and collide with greater force. Remember, this whole “safety” issue dealt with an injury on 7% of kickoff returns, versus 5% chance of injury on normal offensive/defensive play. So at best, returns have been significantly altered, players are colliding from greater distances, and apparently these plays are taking longer. Doesn’t seem safer to me, but it does seem much more boring…

  8. Moving it up 5 yards to limit returns,makes the kicking out of bounds penalty kinda stupid since that rule was made so there would be kick returns.

  9. borisbulldog says:
    Sep 17, 2011 9:02 PM
    Josh Cribbs > Devin Hester!!!

    Kinda even in my book.
    Both excell as return specailists.
    Neither will be better than a number 2 reciever.

  10. He’s so dumb! He is mad that they changed the rule but says it didn’t effect the game what so ever. Then why change it back? With the new practice rules from the CBA teams are not allowed to practice tackling nearly as much as they use too. I think this and a shorten offseason are overlooked factor to why there were so many returns for TD last weekend.

  11. All we can do is wait until the season ends and compare the injury data with last season’s. Goodell loves to talk safety, but he rarely provides anything substantive to support his actions. He’s all about putting on a good show to protect the league’s liability.

  12. Why does everybody seem to be of the opinion that the injury concern is for the returners? It isn’t. Most of the kickoff injuries are the guys blocking (that’s why they killed the wedge). Moving the kickoff has done nothing to prevent injuries. The guys are still the same distance apart, running at the same closing speed (they are all just 5 yards further from the end zone) and the hits are happening whether the returner brings the ball out or not. It just makes it easier for the longer kickers to clear the end zone, and onside kicks may be slightly more frequent…that’s it.

  13. captainwisdom8888 says:
    Sep 17, 2011 7:46 PM
    all these regulations on tough hits, kickoffs, not hittin qb’s, its all weak. keep the integrity of the game. Dont turn the league soft w this nonsense. These are men playin. let em play


    Yeah! Bunch of pansies. While we’re at it, what’s the deal with all these pads and hard helmets! Let’s return the integrity of game and go with no pads and, if you must have them, leather helmets like we once had. These are men playing, let them play, get them out of those restrictive pads and the cage helmets and let them really beat the crap out of each other.

    While we’re at it, what’s with this forward pass nonsense. Soft is what I call it. Football used to be about the running game and smashmouth football. Now we have all this nambly pambly throwing. What about the integrity of the game?! You know, the integrity of the game that has been constantly changing it’s identity since 1869.

    By the way, did anyone else find it funny that in the same breath Hester said that it was making the game less fun while also admitting there were more touchdowns last week? Probably should have thought that one through.

  14. “There were more kick return touchdowns…how is that taking away the fun?”

    It was week 1, there was almost no film on return units, hence the coverage teams got it wrong. Pay attention this week, it will be MUCH MORE boring…

  15. I can’t believe the number of idiots who talk about how much farther the players are running. Hmmm … Hate to break it to you but they are still covering 70 yards of field. In the past they kicked it off at the 30 and ran down to the end zone. 70 yards. Now they kick it from the 35 and run down 5 yards deep into the end zne. 70 yards. They haven’t picked up 5 more yards to gather more steam as some have claimed.

    As for Hester, I understand his frustration with the rule but he says “we are going to take it out anyway”. If so, how has that made the game less exciting? I mean, if you are running the ball out (the exciting part of the old rule), then how is the new rule less exciting? Oh, because you aren’t running the ball out. Well then say so Mr. Hester.

  16. You wanna know the worst part??? I heard Casserly, who used to be on the dreaded Competition Committee, say during last week’s pregame that if overall SCORING goes down due to this, they will likely move touchbacks to the 25.
    What’s next? Make defensive players play with one hand literally tied behind their backs??? I am SICK AND TIRED of pro pass offense, pro scoring rules being put in. REAL football fans (not fantasy fake football fans)love defense too and want it to be a more level playing field & fair to both sides.

  17. Roger must have gotten picked on alot in school, probably got picked last on the sandlot too – now he’s exacting revenge on those big mean muscle bound boys for making him feel like the sissy he is – let them HIT!!!!! DE-FENSE!

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