Hawkins says (again) that widening field would cut down on injuries


Writing that it’s a “fact” that players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins took to Twitter Wednesday to say it would “logical” for the NFL to explore widening the field to cut down on injuries.

Hawkins believes the big hits pass catchers take between the numbers could be standard tackles with more space available. He played in the Canadian Footbal League before sticking with the Bengals but wrote that he’s advocating the NFL to widen the field by 3-4 yards, not to make it 65 yards wide as it is by CFL rules.

Hawkins said basically the same thing three years ago, when the topic was discussed in NFL circles but ultimately didn’t make it to the competition committee. At the time, NFL V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson basically said the idea was old news and something he wasn’t sure would make the game safer.

Hawkins had his 2015 season ended by a second concussion in November. He was hospitalized overnight for observation after being hit by Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones following an interception.

Back in 2013, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian took Hawkins’ side and pushed for the NFL to explore widening the field.

23 responses to “Hawkins says (again) that widening field would cut down on injuries

  1. This would only help receivers. Slants and in-breaking routes might give you an extra 1.5/2 yards of space, but defenders will also adjust their zones a little. Such a small.increase seems unlikely to reduce much, but it is a game of inches, and maybe the extra second of reaction time allows a chance to position one’s self in a way to avoid an unnecessarily damaging hit.

  2. I don’t know. A dude running down the sideline is a dude running down the sideline, no matter how wide the field is.

  3. People will continue to change the NFL to conform to ones standards. What’s left, will be watered down and unwatchable. Which in the end, is their ultimate goal.

  4. I would rather change to rule so a receiver only needs one foot in bounds instead of two for a reception. It would cause way more passes to be thrown toward the sidelines which would add to offense and scoring, it would lower the number of big collisions over the middle, it would lead to more QBs rolling out of the pocket instead of being sitting ducks, that would lead to more mobile and smaller defensive lineman which in turn would lead to more smaller and mobile offensive lineman. There you have it. More scoring. Less QBs getting injured. Less WRs getting injured. Smaller linemen. Smaller and faster safeties too. The emphasis would be more on speed than size.

  5. In the year 2150 when defenders have to wear blindfolds, the field is twice the size and Peyton Manning the 3rd is breaking all of granddads passing records, we can all rejoice.

  6. I dunno. With most RBs racing to run OB every time they get the ball nowadays, it’d likely cause more injuries if they had farther to go.

  7. A bigger field is a dumb idea! – they should just make the players smaller.
    But in all seriousness, they should take most of the harder protection, mainly helmets and shoulder “pads” – as these are often used as weapons – and replace them with soft pads and padded hat (more like some rugby linemen wear). Tacklers then wouldn’t dare make those crazier full body launches at each other for fear of doing just as much damage to themselves, they’d have to relearn old-fashioned rugby-style tackling. Add in rugby-style rules against dangerous tackles too for good measure.

  8. The NFL cant say its serious about player safety until they get serious about HGH testing. The current test would only catch someone if they had literally used in the last few hours only. Tests are available that would detect use over a longer time frame. Research suggests that HGH can add up to 20 percent additional mass to a persons body. Concussions are significantly a function of speed and mass. Do the math.

  9. It would definitely benefit WR which is why he is for really for it.

    Something I do see them doing in the future though is adding 10 yards to the endzone. That makes redzone scoring a lot easier and the new NFL wants scoring.

  10. This field size was perfect when D-linemen were 250 pounds and couldn’t move…now the players are huge and lightning fast so making the field a little bit wider only makes sense.

  11. Wider playing fields would increase offensive statistics.

    Increased offensive statistics would increase bargaining points for agents/athletes when negotiating new contracts.

    The owners know it.

    Soooo… it’s not gonna happen.

  12. Widening the field would require the NFL to spend money instead of make it. Instead they’ll just keep changing the rules till it’s two hand touch only.

  13. It’s all about the trigonometry. If a defender is coming downhill at a offensive player, the angle and distance they cover dictates how big the collisions are. A skinny field creates sharper angles and shorter distances. That means they deliver a hit at a high rate of speed and at a more ‘head-on’ angle, thus, bigger collisions. A wider field creates more gradual angles and longer distances.

  14. I really love this idea for basketball, but I’m having hard time forming a strong opinion about it in football. I guess I’m not understanding how exactly the change would occur. I don’t think Hakwins is saying this based on nothing, but it does seem like it would have only a slight impact regarding injury reduction.

    That said, I’m yet to hear what the “solution” will be for injury reduction that doesn’t dramatically change the game. The traditionalist in me holds out hope that helmet technology will soon reach a point where concussions in the NFL (or MLB for that matter) are a thing of the past, but this doesn’t seem likely, or at least likely enough to justify not exploring other, more realistic options.

  15. I think he’s wrong. I think more space means more room to run and smash into players. Allow contact until the ball is in the air like college. Less run and hit, more close drag down tackles.

  16. In a league that seems to favor offense more and more, you would think a wider field would appeal to the owners and competition committee. As someone who watches both Canadian and American football I can honestly say that the Canadian game is more watchable and fun, and that’s partly because of the huge field.

  17. Considering what Polian’s Great Wussification did to the game any rule change he is in favor of should automatically be be eliminated for consideration.

  18. Most injuries happen on the sidelines. Use the data to fix the problem. Fix the field conditions out of bounds and you reduce injuries. Today’s NFL only takes care of the playing field and has no real regulations on the conditions of the out of bounds area in the vicinity of the playing field.

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