One of the items up for discussion at this week at the NFL's owner meetings in New Orleans is a proposed change to the way kickoffs are handled. The league's competition committee has proposed moving kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line and bringing touchbacks up to the 25 to protect the safety of players.
While the vote on that proposal has not taken place, there is at least one person who has made their stance on the potential change public: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Speaking to reporters at the meetings on Monday, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year disagreed with the changes proposed by the committee.
"It's a pretty complicated proposal," Belichick said. "I don't like the idea of eliminating the kickoff from the game. I think it's one of the most exciting plays in football. It looks like the competition committee is trying to eliminate that play. I don't know if that's really good for the game."
When a reporter asked if the committee discussed how moving the kickoff yard-line up would increase safety, Belichick stated he was unsure about its potential outcome.
"The presentation last night, I don't know that it's because of head injuries," Belichick said. "The ones they showed, there weren't very many of them. I don't know, I think you should talk to the competition committee. They are the ones that really proposed the rule. Talk to Rich McKay and whoever else is on the committee and see what they have to say about it. There are a lot of components to it -- four different elements to it. It's kind of a complicated rule."
The way we see it
In 2010, Patriots KR Brandon Tate averaged 25.8 yards per kickoff return, fifth best in the NFL among players with 40 or more chances. Were the NFL's kickoff rules to change, that threat could be eliminated from the New England attack altogether. This may not be the only reason Belichick is opposed to the proposal by the competition committee, but it likely has something to do with it.