The NFL has instituted new rules that will change the face of kickoffs. Specifically, they have moved the kickoff spot from the 30-yard line out to the 35, where it was years ago.
This is going to change things for kick return specialists to say the least. It’s going to affect guys like Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns, who does a myriad of things on a football field, but really gets big marks for his work on kick returns.
As you may have guessed, he hates the new rules.
“I’m very upset about it,” Cribbs told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of Sirius NFL Radio. “I highly disagree [with] the rule changes. Especially while there’s no CBA in place I’m just baffled by their reasoning behind it, you know, changing the rules. Of course I know the reasoning behind it. I just disagree. Trying to make the game safer, I commend their efforts. I just think it could’ve been handled a lot better. Changing those rules will affect a lot of people including myself and incoming college [players] as well.”
Cribbs thinks that this is the NFL’s way of posturing for an 18-game season.
“One of our main reasons for not having this two-game extension is because of our player safety,” Cribbs said. “We feel the season is long enough. That’s one of our biggest things, is our contracts aren’t guaranteed. So if we get hurt, if something happens to us, we’re like, hey, this two-game extension cannot happen. So their take is, hey, we’re gonna make the game a lot safer. If you look at the past eight years, all the rule changes with the wedge, hitting a guy defenseless and this, this and that, the rules, the games have been changing a lot so they can add this. But they’re not seeing how it is changing people’s playing styles. You’re asking guys to change up the way they’ve been playing their whole careers, their whole lives, and you’re asking them to do stuff that didn’t even get them into the NFL. This is a great sport already. We know what we signed up for.”
Cribbs thinks that this will just hurt special teams and diminish its role in a football game.
“They always say in basketball free throws win games,” Cribbs said. “Well, you know what? In football special teams win games. It doesn’t matter how good your offense or defense is, if they give up one kickoff return, one fumble on punt return, that changes the whole game drastically. You win and lose games on special teams and that’s what me and Devin Hester have been able to do for our teams. So if you take that out of it, I mean, you lose the excitement [of] all these 100-yard returns.”
Luckily for Cribbs, he’s good at a lot of things, so this won’t jeopardize his career. Now, if you’re a guy that just specializes in kickoffs? You might want to get your real estate license.