The NFL isn’t planning to explore the topic of widening the playing field this year, but one player who has played in both the CFL and NFL thinks that doing it would help the league cut down on the violent hits that have raised player safety concerns in recent years.
Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins played two years with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes before making the jump to the NFL. His experience playing on Canada’s wider fields left him with the feeling that the NFL would have fewer big hits if they did make the playing field larger.
“It would prevent a lot of the severe collisions. Guys are getting faster every year. We know that. But with the NFL spacing being more confined than the CFL, there are a lot more big hits. There are a lot more tight windows. It would prevent not all, but a larger portion, of big hits,” Hawkins said, via the Bengals website. “There are more big hits here. I don’t care how fast you are. If a field is a certain size, you’re not going to be able to get there by the time the ball gets there.”
Hawkins said he didn’t think the NFL should go from 160 feet to Canada’s 195 feet because there is one extra player in the Canadian league, but that he could see them finding another width that makes the game safer without compromising the on-field product. It’s not something he’s stumping for as much as just answering a question about the differences between the leagues, but it’s an interesting view on a discussion that probably won’t end with the league’s decision not to address it in the Competition Committee this time around.