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Kickoff rule not going away during 2011 season

RichMcKay

I’ve yet to find anyone who can make a persuasive case for the decision to move the kickoff point from the 30 to the 35. But regardless of the touchbacks -- and the five-minute bathroom breaks that come from a thin slice of leg-swing meat nestled between two slices of messages-from-our-sponsors bread -- the rule won’t be changing in 2011.

Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the league’s Competition Committee, told Peter King of SI.com and NBC on Sunday that the rule, which passed by a vote of 30-2, won’t be changed during the 2011 season, regardless of how loudly anyone may complain.

“After the season,’' McKay told King for his indispensable Monday Morning Quarterback column, “we’ll see how it’s affected the game and the injury numbers.’'

Hopefully, the league will consider not only total injuries but also injuries-per-return. Those have a chance to spike, if coaches keep fewer special-teams specialists and if the players who are playing special teams have fewer chances via live game reps to get sufficiently comfortable with the assignment. In many cases, the special teams are staffed with younger players who remain inexperienced and wide-eyed.

We continue to be troubled by a rule that attempts to reduce injuries simply by reducing the number of times a play is used. If the play is dangerous, it needs to removed from the game not part of the time but all of the time.

Tony Dungy of Football Night in America told PFT Live last week that he thinks the shifting of the kickoff point could be the first step toward doing just that.