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Mara says kickoffs could one day be eliminated

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By PFW staff

The NFL was pleased with the 40 percent reduction in concussions after moving the kickoff from the 30- to the 35-yard line before last season. The kickoff will remain at the 35, and Giants owner John Mara said that kickoffs could one day be eliminated from the NFL.

“We had a lot of discussions about whether we should eliminate it and, if we did, what we could do in its place,” Mara told the Giants’ website. “There’s no consensus on it right now, but I could see the day in the future where that play could be taken out of the game.

“You see it evolving toward that. Nobody would go that far now, but we talk about different blocks that we can outlaw,” he added. “The problem is that the concussions come from everywhere — from the wedge, from the crossing blocks where a guy goes from one side of the field to another, from a full-speed collision between a return guy and a tackler. So there’s no one thing that you can do. It’s something that we'll continue to watch as closely as possible.”

While only 53.1 percent of kickoffs were returned last season — an all-time low — kickoffs were returned for an average of 23.8 yards, which is an all-time high.

Mara, who is a member of the league's competition committee, also touched on the decision to make overtime rules uniform in both the postseason and the regular season.

“The coaches, I think, felt strongly about that, too, saying, ‘I don’t want to have one set of rules for regular season and another set of rules that, all of a sudden, you’re using for the first time in the postseason,’ ” he said.

The Bills had proposed moving reviews to the replay official in the booth, taking responsibility away from the referee on the field. That measure did not pass, though.

“The referees that we spoke to were dead-set against the proposal. To their credit, they want to be the ones that make that call. And I think there is a certain value to having the guy on the field do it,” Mara explained. “Plus, these are our most highly trained individuals. So why not leave it in their hands? And their accuracy rate is pretty good, and it’s gotten a little bit better each year. So there was very little support for making that change.”

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