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In 2011, the NFL moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line. Then the league got rid of the three-man wedge and limited the distance that tacklers could run before a kickoff. Now the outrageous idea of eliminating kickoffs altogether is being considered by owners and NFL officials.
Kickoffs have been known as one of the most dangerous plays due to players becoming too big, strong and fast. Oversized players charging downfield 60 yards can be dangerous when opposing players are put in vulnerable positions, but it has been a part of football since the first game took place in 1895 between Latrobe Athletic Association and Jeannette Athletic Club.
There have been countless career-ending injuries from kickoffs, including Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a spine injury while making a tackle on a kickoff against the Giants in 2007, ending his NFL career.
But football has always been a violent sport, which is one reason why Americans love it. Initial reactions to big hits in the NFL are usually not disgust but admiration by fans, players and coaches.
The ever-changing game will be unrecognizable if changes such as eliminating kickoffs are followed through. Football will resemble the recent South Park episode version of football called Sarcastaball, which involves players complimenting opponents and “cuddling up” instead of huddling up.
There are mixed emotions around the league about eliminating kickoffs, but the consensus among players is an understanding that every sport comes with its set of injuries.
Montell Owens, current Jacksonville Jaguar running back and two-time special team Pro Bowler, said it best when he stated, “Who has the right to change the game? It’s been around longer than any of us. It’s like thinking about playing tennis without a tennis ball.”