NFL changes kickoff rules, creates video game-like graphic to explain how they work

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The NFL announced new rules that will change the look of kickoffs for the upcoming season with hopes of diminishing risk in what’s called the most dangerous play in football. (AP)
The NFL announced new rules that will change the look of kickoffs for the upcoming season with hopes of diminishing risk in what’s called the most dangerous play in football. (AP)

NFL owners voted on Tuesday on changes to the kickoff that will take place in the upcoming season.

The impetus is in the name of safety with the NFL calling the play the most dangerous in football. In discussing different proposals before the vote, the league pointed to a study showing that concussions are five times more likely on kickoffs than on plays from scrimmage.

Graphic demonstrates what new kickoffs will look like

The league released a graphic on Tuesday that explains how the new kickoff rules will work. For explaining a complicated play, it does a pretty good job of breaking down what kickoffs will look like next season:

New NFL kickoff rules explained

Here’s a breakdown of the new kickoff rules.

1: Five players on the kicking team will be required to line up on each side of the ball.

2: Players on the kickoff team will not be allowed a running start.

3: At least two players on the kicking team will be required to line up outside the numbers.

4: At least two players on the kicking team will be required to line up between the numbers and the hash marks.

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5: At least eight players on the receiving team will be required to line up in a 15-yard set-up zone that is near midfield on standard kickoffs, leaving a maximum of three players to line up deep to receive the kick.

6: There will be a 15-yard “no-blocking” zone from where the ball is kicked that will be enforced until the ball is touched or hits the ground.

7: There will be no wedge blocking allowed on the return where two or more blockers align together to protect the ball carrier.

Kickoff under fire if safety measures don’t work

It’s difficult to tell how this will look or what kind of impact it will actually have on gameplay or player safety until we see actual football players implement the new rules. The gist of the rules is clearly to reduce collisions, clusters of players and how much players can carry momentum into collisions.

If it doesn’t work, some in the league have threatened more drastic measures in the name of safety to one of the most popular plays in the game.

Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the competition committee has threatened the elimination of the kickoff if the NFL can’t find a way to make it safer.

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