The kickoff return man used to be a vital part of the game and exciting as well, but….
As NFL owners continue to tweak the rules for kickoffs, and they do so out of concern for player safety, they are actually, decreasing the number of opportunities for players to have an NFL career and it limits the impact of the kick return game.
In 2011, the NFL had moved the kickoff line to the 35-yard line, in the hopes that it would decrease the number of kicks returned. Now, for 2016, owners have approved to move the touchback line to the 35-yard line, this furthers the determent of returning kicks.
Matthew Slater, of the New England Patriots, is one of those players affected by the rule changes. “I’m very disappointed obviously in the way that we’re discussing the future of the kickoff. Field position is huge in this game, and you’re adding an additional five percent of the field to the offense. I don’t feel like that’s the best thing for the game. I understand that they’re trying to do what’s best in terms of health and safety, and I respect that. I’m obviously our union rep here, so I think that there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our players. But I do not think that the kickoff is a hazard that we need to be thinking about getting rid of.”
Slater, of course, is not the only player who will be affected by the rule change, as many other players who made the roster in that position, wouldn’t have made their team, otherwise. These players are ones who solely, return kicks and return punts in order to make a paycheck.
“The kicking game has meant a lot to the game of football and to a lot of players individually, and it’s enabled guys to have careers. You think about Izzo, you think about myself. Without the kicking game, we don’t have a career. I’m very disappointed in some of the things I hear in regards to getting rid of the kickoff. I surely hope that’s not the case.”