NFL VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent told ESPN Tuesday that kickoffs will not be eliminated for the 2018 season, although some changes could be forthcoming.
It was just several weeks ago that Vincent suggested to radio host Dan Patrick that kickoffs could be taken out of the game entirely for safety reasons. The development came on the heels of a report that said concussions were five times more likely to occur on kickoffs in 2017 than any other play.
“We are going to address some of those issues that we see in the kickoff,” Vincent said in March. “We have to do something about that play. The spacing and the contact that’s being made on the punt return. The injuries, both soft tissue and head injuries that occur. The future … it could be, it could be something we have to examine.”
But on Tuesday, Vincent seemed to change course. During a two-day player safety summit he said the league hopes to make adjustments to alignment and formation requirements in the hopes of repairing what is by far the most dangerous play in the game.
“There’s no question that this is not about getting [the kickoff] out of the game. It’s about enhancing it,” Vincent said, adding that the NFL hopes to reach a consensus to allow the competition committee to write a new kickoff rule by the end of the summit on Wednesday. “Hopefully we’ll have something to present to ownership for this fall, without moving too fast.”