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Concussions on kickoffs drop sharply in 2011

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** name

Jamie Sabau

NFL Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay was on PFT Live last week talking about proposed rules changes for 2012, but he was talking about one of 2011’s changes at the owners meetings on Monday.

The league moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line last season as part of an effort to cut down on injuries during returns and they got exactly what they hoped for as a result of the change. McKay said Monday that concussions on kickoffs dropped by 40 percent during the 2011 season which likely goes hand in hand with the fact that kickoff returns dropped by 53 percent.

McKay was understating things a bit when he said, via the Associated Press, that the rule change “had an effect on the game.”

There were 23 kickoff return touchdowns in 2010, accounting for a little more than one percent of all returns. The total number dropped to nine touchdowns in 2011 and a little more than one-half of one percent of all returns. That makes for a less exciting brand of football, but the goal was to make the game safer and, given the numbers, the NFL got what it wanted from the kickoff rule.