Sports

NFL Kills Kickoff Returns in Denver

| by Broncos Zone

On Tuesday, the NFL adopted a new rule that will move kickoff up to the 35-yard line. Touchbacks however will still come out to the 20-yard line. The League said it has made the change to try and avoid so many collisions. Yet, football is a contact sport, so the ruling has not been received well by the fans.

Last season, the Broncos place kicker, Matt Prater, booted nearly everyone of his kickoffs into or out of the endzone (in fact, over thirty-five percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks). Now with an extra five yards to start with, Prater could be sailing kickoffs through the uprights (something he has done in the past, starting five yards farther away). With that the case, it is unlikely many, if any, kickoffs at Invesco Field @ Mile High will be returned next season, or whenever the next football season is.

In a time where kickoff returns for touchdowns were being less and less rare, it now looks as if they may go extinct. Last year, there were 23 kickoff returns for touchdowns. In 1993, the last time kickoffs took place from the 35-yard line, there were only four.

And in 1992, there were six.
Broncos second year safety and special teams player Kyle McCarthy weighed in on the subject, saying the ruling will cause more collisions, rather than less. "Does the NFL know by changing the kickoff spot to the 35 yard line," asked McCarthy, "Kickers are just going to kick it higher causing more collisions?" That is a interesting point, but it is more likely however that teams will just boot it out of the endzone every time, not giving the opposing team a chance to return.
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