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NFL Rule Changes Coming on Kickoffs, Replays

With the NFL owners meetings down in New Orleans certainly surround the muddled ongoing labor dispute, it appears that more business outside of labor talks is being done particularly coming in the form of two rule changes:  kickoffs and replay rules.

The NFL has agreed to a change that will move kickoffs from the 30-yard line out to the 35-yard line.  With the safety of the game’s players becoming more prevalent and kick returns being one of the more dangerous aspects in football (remember what happened to former Buffalo Bill Kevin Everrett?), this rule change seems to be designed to have the best interest for the players as far as reducing the amount of injuries. 

But with every positive element there’s always a flip side to the coin.  It’s definitely tough to present a valid agrument against anything that would enhance player safety, which in return could prolong the careers of the players while maintaining good quality of life during their playing days and retirement.  From an entertainment standpoint, it’s easy to see why this particular rule change won’t be welcomed with a standing ovation.  By starting kickoffs now at the 35-yard line, it’s going to lead to an increase in touchbacks.  More touchbacks means fewer returns.  It also decreases the likelihood of scoring touchdowns on kickoff returns and limits the chances of gaining field position.   So for a couple of Bills (C.J. Spiller, Leodis McKelvin) their value as a kickoff commodity just went south.  Ditto for Chicago’s Devin Hester, New York Jets return specialist Brad Smith and the always dangerous Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns.

Touchbacks will remain at the 20-yard line and the two-man wedge rules will remain the same.

The league has also amended changes to replay rules.  Under the new rules, all scoring plays can now be subject to a booth review regardless of when they happen during a game.  Under the old replay system, the only automatic booth reviews came under the last two minutes of each half on scoring plays.  Now, all scoring plays can be review without the need for a challenge from the coaches.

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