11. The NFL is trying (oh so slightly) to make the game safer
This off-season, the league tweaked two rules in an effort to limit concussions and make the game’s most dangerous play less risky. But will the new plans work? Here’s our take.
The Rule: Players on the kicking team will no longer be allowed a running start before the ball is in the air, and players on the receiving team are prevented from engaging in “wedge blocks,” wherein two players come together to block another player.
What It Means: “The kickoff becomes a glorified punt,” says legendary Steelers coach and analyst Bill Cowher. “I think it may even make the return game more important rather than eliminate the collisions. You may see more runbacks.”
Will It Make the Game Safer?: Probably not, but it could unintentionally make it a lot more exciting.
The Rule: Defenders will no longer be able to tackle by leading with the crown of the helmet.
What It Means: NBC analyst Tony Dungy says it will have less of an impact than most players think. “Coaches have been teaching different techniques for years now, and this won’t affect that many plays,” he says. “But it depends on how the refs call it.”
Will It Make the Game Safer?: Yes, but only marginally.
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