The NFL is continuing to figure out ways to make kickoffs safer and will vote next week on several proposed changes aiming to reduce the number of high-speed collisions which happen during returns.
The proposals, which need to be approved by two-thirds of NFL team owners before going into effect for the 2018 season, will be discussed at next week’s Spring League Meeting in Atlanta. The proposals were made with special teams coaches and members of the league’s Competition Committee during a player safety summit earlier this month.
“If you don’t make changes to make it safer, we’re going to do away with it,” Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, said of kickoffs last month. “It’s that serious. It’s by far the most dangerous play in the game.”
But the demand for resolution at this Atlanta gathering guarantees little. And the league’s owners may have been telegraphing that two months ago from the Orlando meetings, when at best, the only thing promised was that protests would be discussed this week.
“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. “This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”
The NFL Players’ Association said shortly after the announcement that its members were not consulted about the changes and the union would review the new policy and “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.” The NFLPA also said the move contradicts statements Goodell and Giants owner John Mara had made to union leadership “about the principles, values and patriotism of our league.”