Joshua Cribbs is not a huge fan of the new NFL kickoff rules, and frankly neither am I. As a guy who makes his living returning kickoffs these rules will severely hurt his potential to make money, and as a fan these new rules take away one of the more exciting plays in football today. Simply put, these new rules (and their are actually two of them) really hurt the overall product of NFL football. The first is teams now must kickoff from the 35 yard line, and the second is all other 10 members of the kickoff team must have a toe on the 30 yard line. This limits the defenders run up to the ball and takes away big special team hits.
With kickers kicking from the 35 we will see a lot of touchbacks. That will limit the effectiveness of guys like Cribbs. I don’t know why the union is not fighting this as it will obviously cost them a high paying roster spot. Not to mention a lot of guys make rosters as being an excellent kick return guy. The flip side of that is guys will also miss out on opportunity to make teams as special teams players as the big hits that normally caught our attention are also being deleted from the game.
While I understand the need by the league to limit big hits on fairly unprotected players. However, this one smells like a business decision more than “a we care about our players” decision. When we limit the effectiveness of special teams players, those salaries are sure to come down. Guys who once made a nice living being the main kick returner for a club will likely have to play on the regular units now, and that means we will not see older players hanging on as a primarily special teams contributor. Again an issue the NFLPA should probably be on top of.