Kickoffs must get safer or else. The “or else,” according to Packers president Mark Murphy, is the competition committee’s recommendation to eliminate the play.
Owners voted this week to make the touchback rule permanent, with a touchback putting the ball at the 25-yard line, but that has done little to nothing to mitigate the safety risk.
“We’ve reduced the number of returns,” Murphy said, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN, “but we haven’t really done anything to make the play safer.”
Murphy, a member of the competition committee, said the league will call on special teams coordinators and head coaches “in the next few weeks.” The group will receive a clear edict: “If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it. It’s that serious. It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game.”
Murphy said even touchbacks have proved a concussion risk.
“Even though there’s no return, [the committee is] looking at what kind of things you can do to make sure people were aware that there’s not even a return,” Murphy said. “You see this, too: One player lets up, the player covering lets up, and one of the blockers comes over and, you know. That creates problems when you’ve got one player going half speed and the other one full speed.”