In the NFL’s continuing quest to make the game safer, many rules changes have been made, and a number of other ideas have been considered. One that has been gaining more steam in the last several years is the idea of eliminating the kickoff. The play has been a part of the sport since its inception, but recent data has suggested that players get injured at a higher rate on kickoffs than they do on other plays. Despite that, league executive vice president, Troy Vincent, told reporters on Tuesday that the league is not considering eliminating the kickoff for the 2018 season.
Speaking at the start of a two-day player-safety summit, Vincent spoke about some of the changes that could be made to the play, but emphasized that it would not be eliminated this year. From ESPN:
“There’s no question that this is not about getting [the kickoff] out of the game,” Vincent said. “It’s about enhancing it.”
According to ESPN, the league found that concussions were five times more likely to occur on kickoffs than on any other play during the 2017 season. That is slightly alarming considering that, as ESPN notes, only 40 percent of kickoffs were returned following the rule changes that were designed to reduce the number of returns.
Instead of looking to eliminate the play, Vincent reportedly stated that the league “hopes to make substantive adjustments to alignment and formation requirements in hopes of repairing what is by far the most dangerous play of the game.”