In 1994, the NFL pushed kickoffs from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line because kickers were having far too big of an impact on the game.
Well, the NFL is going back to the future.
At the owners meetings in New Orleans on Tuesday, the league passed a slightly modified version of a radical rules change on kickoffs that is sure to have a tremendous impact on the game. In the name of “player safety,” the ball will be kicked off from the 35-yard line instead of the 30, with players on the kickoff team allowed to line up at the 30-yard line to minimize a 10- or 15-yard running start that helped lead to violent collisions.
The Packers voted in favor of the change.
The proposal, which came out of the Competition Committee last week, was tinkered with to gain approval. Touchbacks, as always, will be placed at the 20-yard line. The proposal had the ball spotted at the 25. And two-man wedges, which were banned under the committee proposal, will be allowed.
Also, the Packers were among the teams that voted to modify the instant replay system. From now on, all touchdowns will be reviewed automatically, so coaches won’t have to throw a challenge flag. In change from the Competition Committee proposal, a coach who wins his first two challenges will be granted a third. Under the original proposal, coaches were given two challenges without the possibility of earning a third.
Importantly, plays that are not ruled touchdowns — such as a receiver failing to get two feet inbounds in the end zone — will not be reviewed automatically.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.