Matthew Slater: Taking away kickoffs would be “tragic”

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While discussing his spot on a panel that will discuss possible changes to kickoffs in the NFL, former Bills special teams ace Steve Tasker said he believes the league will ultimately come up with an alternative to a play that’s been linked to a high rate of injuries.

The league took a step to curtail kickoff returns by moving touchbacks to the 25-yard-line a few years ago and the NCAA has adopted a rule this year setting the ball at the same spot after fair catches inside the 25 in a pair of moves that seem to support Tasker’s feeling about a trend toward eliminating kickoffs altogether. Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater sees the same trend and doesn’t like it.

Slater said Tuesday that he understands the desire to make the game safer for players and acknowledged his own bias toward keeping things as they are given the role he plays in the NFL, but called kickoffs part of the “fabric of the game” while strongly disagreeing with attempts to take it away.

“To take away the kickoff, I really think it would be tragic,” Slater said in comments distributed by the team. “I really think, like I said, you’re changing the fabric of the game that we all love to cover, report on, that we love to play, coach, and I think it’s very disheartening to continue to have this brought up. I understand, look, people are concerned with the long-term health and safety of the players. But as I said, no one’s more concerned than the men that are actually out there doing it, and if we’re OK doing it, I don’t understand why we have to continue to look for alternatives, continue to push. Those are just my thoughts on it. As you can tell, I feel strongly about it and would love to continue that dialogue throughout the course of the season.”

Slater pointed to plays like short yardage attempts that illustrate that football is always going to be a “violent sport” and wondered what might happen next if the kickoff were to go the way of video rental stores. Many others have raised the same concerns, but that hasn’t put the brakes on moves that threaten its future in football.

18 responses to “Matthew Slater: Taking away kickoffs would be “tragic”

  1. It’s one of the most exciting plays in sports.

    I love how just up through this past year’s SB you could target a guy’s head after he had the ball, as if that’s somehow OK, if the goal is to reduce head injuries across the board.

    Here’s a hint: No head targeting and see what you tackle.

    It’s not that difficult to understand.

  2. All I know is there has to be a better idea to keep the play in the game AND make it safer if it is a hazard / liability to the NFL’s future. Lets not ditch the play. That chips away at the foundation of the game.

  3. mongo3401 says:
    April 17, 2018 at 4:38 pm
    I for one would not miss the kick off at all. If it is truly deemed a safety hazard then get rid of it


    ^Millennial alert.

  4. There’s always going to be the “most dangerous play” in football. When/if they remove the kickoff because it’s the most dangerous play in football, will they identify the next play, and remove that play too? Where’s the cutoff for the most dangerous play in football?

  5. Removing the kickoff takes away some strategy. I think the final kickoff in the Super Bowl was intentional to take time off the clock. It resulted in poor field position in addition to taking time of the clock. I think it’s very possible the Eagles lose the Super Bowl if the Patriots could have fair caught the ball and took the ball at the 25 yard line.

  6. No better way to start off the game than with a kick off……

    You remember baseball did the same thing with running into the catcher……now they only allow for it in the playoffs.

    Total BS……

    I’m glad to be part of the generation which allowed running into the catcher in Little League.

  7. Of course he doesn’t want kickoffs done with because he’s not a good wr and kickoffs are his only way to make money. That’s all he’s thinking. He don’t care about players safety.

  8. Future NFL Commissioner Matthew Slater is a smart man heavy with wisdom about the game he plays and loves. (And the current NFL Commissioner is the opposite of each of those words).

  9. Can’t hit the QB
    No kickoffs
    Unless a perfect form tackle it’s a penalty
    Can’t touch a receiver

    Just play flag then. The game is being ruined

  10. kurdishpats1 says:
    April 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm
    When a Patriot speaks, you listen


    Unless it’s about defence. Then you do exactly the opposite.

  11. I don’t get how people talk about kickoffs like “the most exciting play in sports”. Like, what? 9 times out of 10, nothing happens. And the rare times that something does happen, it’s usually just a penalty and the play coming back. I literally cringe when my team takes one out of the end zone, because it’s like “oh great, here comes the block in the back”. More often than not, you are HURTING your field position by trying to make a play. This is “the most exciting” thing about the game according to some people? HOW?? Even on the rare occasion that an non-penalized big return occurs, it’s not THAT exciting. A bomb pass, an acrobatic catch, a tackle breaking run, shedding a left tackle and making a blindside sack, ALL OF THIS is EASILY more exciting than stupid kickoffs. I use kickoffs to grab drinks and go to the bathroom, on the rare occasion anything actually happens….that’s what the rewind button is for. But 90% of the time you aren’t missing ANYTHING. I have no idea how people are so captivated by these meaningless plays. It makes no sense.

  12. mongo3401 says: “If [the kick off] is truly deemed a safety hazard then get rid of it.”

    Let’s follow that statement to it’s logical conclusion: FOOTBALL ITSELF can be deemed a safety hazard, so LET’S GET RID OF IT!” How’s that work for you?

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