The ongoing discussions regarding player safety have led to a wide range of creative ideas for minimizing major impacts on the playing field. Last month, a new possibility landed on the table: Making the playing field larger.
Jay Glazer explains in his weekly Q&A for TheAthletic.com that the prospect of lengthening and widening the field “was brought up in player safety discussion this year at the owners meetings.”
“It was brought up, the players have gotten bigger, faster, stronger, and the field hasn’t gotten any bigger,” Glazer writes. “I don’t see anything changing but this is the first year I actually heard about that.”
From high school on up (and at some lower levels of the sport), the field remains 100 by 53 yards. But the players at the highest level of football indeed continue to get bigger, faster, stronger.
Making the field larger could be problematic in stadiums where the current playing surface barely fits as it is, and it likewise could make for awkward transitions in stadiums that also host college and high-school football games, like Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. It also could reduce scoring, requiring longer drives before a team gets into the end zone or field-goal range.
Here’s a possibility suggested by MDS for, as a practical matter, making the field a little larger: Change the requirement that a receiver get two feet inbounds to one foot, like the college and high-school rule. Bringing back the force-out rule would have a similar effect, allowing passes to be regarded as complete if the player would have gotten two feet (or one foot) down but for a shove from a defender.