Kickoffs likely to stay at 35-yard line

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Roger Goodell had a lot to say at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Friday, most of which we covered on Friday.

One area that got overlooked was Goodell’s opinion about the decision to move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line this season. The NFL hoped to improve player safety by limiting the number of returns and their wish was fulfilled. There were 1,120 touchbacks during the regular season which accounted for 43.5 percent of all kickoffs. That was a sharp rise from 16.4 percent of kickoffs during the 2010 season.

It looks like we’re in for more of the same next year. Goodell doesn’t see any change in kickoffs coming for next season.

“We knew there would be less kickoff returns,” Goodell told the Chicago Sun-Times. :But we thought safety was really a part of the initiative until we come up with a better solution. We will evaluate again this offseason. But I don’t think we’re moving it back.”

As the Sun-Times points out, the Bears were one of the teams that voted against the move. Their fears about losing an edge in field position wound up coming true as the team lost eight yards in average starting position from 2010 to 2011, although they still ranked fifth in the league this season with an average start on the 23.6-yard line.

34 responses to “Kickoffs likely to stay at 35-yard line

  1. This rule really hurts the game most exciting play. If players and owners are against it, I feel its a no brainer but move it back. Players can get hurt on any play. League is becoming way to soft.

  2. Even though there were more runbacks than I thought there would be, it isn’t nearly as exciting as it used to be. I’d like to know if the change lessened the number of injuries on kickoffs.

  3. How about actually making each position wear a minimum amount of pads if you want to protect the players.

  4. Goodell also is considering for the 2012 season a penalty for tackling any player carrying the football as this wIll increase scoring. The Philadelphia Eagles linebackers and corners being ahead of their time tried it this year and proved that scoring does increase dramatically.

  5. This rule really just hurts the players. Why? Because the ST aces and return men really have had their impacts cut. Meaning teams will be less likely to use high picks and keep players like Devin Hester on teams. Those players that made livings returning kicks and only that because they never were a good DB or WR or RB will no longer be needed and teams can use that roster spot for another player. Stop making the game soft. Millions are paid for reasons. If you want to make it soft then cut the amount of money paid to those playing the softer game.

  6. If they kept kickoffs at the 35 but said that the coverage team was limited to 10 men on the field or that the kicker is out of the play after kicking, they could have more exciting returns and more touchbacks, with less players subject to injury.

  7. It takes away from the excitement of the game. Why not just start at the 20 and have no kick offs….would be just as boring. It takes away from the other team getting maybe a run back or at least better field position if the oposing kicker has a leg. It just seems that more and more of these rules are taking away from the enjoyment of the game. My favorite part was all the celebratioin after a TD.

  8. @ fissels says: Feb 4, 2012 3:07 PM

    I’d like to know if the change lessened the number of
    injuries on kickoffs.


    In many ways I don’t think so. Much of the kickoff team plays the same, not knowing if the kick is going to be returned, a touchback, or downed in the endzone. It is the same for punts on fair catches. The team defending the gunner has their backs to the returner. They don’t know what is happening behind them and can subsequently get injured playing all out during a play that for all intents and purposes is over with.

  9. I’m sick of this loser and all his rule changes. Then they give him an extension so we can all expect the game to change even more for the worse. It’s all these pansy ass liberals and society in general.

  10. The lawyers are running wild again salivating with every injury.

    Fewer returns means a much less exciting game. Pity….

  11. How ’bout this: move the kicker back to the 30. The rest of the players on the kicking team would line up on the 40 yard line and the players on the receiving team would stay behind the 50. The kicking team might get down the field quicker making it less likely that the kicker is going to pummel it into the end zone. The kick returner would have to think real hard about returning kicks near the goal line, adding to the suspense of the play. Onside kicks would then have to travel 20 yards to be legal. The receivers may be more apt to block sooner instead of forming wedges or walls, possible lessening injuries. Just a thought.

  12. If fans want change, boycott games. As long as u line up and pay, they’ll do whatever they want. They have proven that business is all that matters and they are protecting their product/assets/players. Teams are still responsible for salaries depending on the contract, so they dont want to have to pay another when one gets injured. And it makes sense. However it makes for boring football when touchbacks occur half the time. CFL is becoming more attractive at this point. At least they can run full speed and hit without trying to screech to a halt whenever the ball is thrown a half step before they get there.

  13. Since when was the kickoff the most exciting part of the game? Everybody is really overreacting, and having less returns would lower the probability of a player getting hurt.
    The league has to make the game safer because they’re getting sued by at least three different people. If you want violence, watch UFC; football, especially now, is more of a chess match.

  14. Football is getting real close to what Europeans call football with all of these rules changes. Isn’t it amazing that the more they try to make the game safer, more people get hurt. If you want to make the game safe, take the helmets off.

  15. Keep the rule as is except a random drawing would determine who would kick-off. It could be the kicker, the punter, the long snapper, or a back-up OT just off the practice squad. Think of the prop bets and the millions in sales for Blooper DVDs! Wins all around!

  16. I vehemently disagree with people who claim that the kickoff is “the game’s most exciting play.” The only sense in which a kickoff could qualify for that honor is that the kickoff starts the game. Actual plays that decide games (fourth and short, third and goal, etc.) are signficantly more exciting.

    It’s not like we’ve eliminated long returns, or anything, we’ve just replaced “the runner takes the ball out to the 22 yard line” with touchbacks, which is really a minimal loss in excitement.

  17. safety first. what can be done to lessen the number and severity of head injuries, and still keep the element of chance that a turnover would occur when the ball is kicked? kickoffs must be made by dropkick?

  18. Ok, then how about bringing in skill to the kickoff? If a kicker kicks the ball out of the endzone, the ball is placed on the 30 yard line. ( why reward a kicker for simply kicking the ball out of the field of play?) If the ball is kicked in the endzone, then a kick returner is no longer allowed to down the ball……all balls kicked in the endzone must be returned. Think about the indecision and excitment created when a returner has to decide whether to pick a ball up or hope it rolls out of bounds??

  19. Do like Canadian football. No return = a point for the kicking team. Actually I hate that idea.

    I’m surprised there haven’t been more kicks that are just high and not far being that the kicking team can recover a ball after 10 yards.

  20. footballprophet says:
    Feb 4, 2012 3:31 PM
    Goodell also is considering for the 2012 season a penalty for tackling any player carrying the football as this wIll increase scoring. The Philadelphia Eagles linebackers and corners being ahead of their time tried it this year and proved that scoring does increase dramatically
    One thousand thumbs up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. You guys do realize that the kick-off was only moved to the 30 back in the 90’s, right?

    It was at the 35 back in the days the “real” football that you all are nostalgic for…

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