Against the advice of the man with perhaps the highest football IQ in the history of the NFL, the league changed its touchback rules last year, hoping the rule change would dramatically decrease injuries on kickoffs.
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way.
The NFL released the injury numbers from the first year of the touchback rule. And, according to Pro Football Talk, not much really changed, “…concussions on kickoffs declined slightly, from 20 in 2015 to 17 in 2016. But hamstring injuries on kickoffs increased from 11 to 13, ACL tears increased from one to four, and MCL tears increased from three to five.
“On a conference call examining injury rates in the league, NFL officials said the data will be analyzed in more detail and presented to the Competition Committee, but they acknowledged that it looks more like “a natural fluctuation” than any change that could be attributed to the new touchback rule.”
Perhaps the league could have avoided all this had they listened to football genius Bill Belichick, who correctly stated that players still get concussed on kickoffs that result in touchbacks because the other ten players have no idea whether or not the return man will bring the ball out, and thus, still have to block.
Not to mention that, according to Pro Football Talk, “touchbacks only increased by 2 percent in 2016.” So not only did injuries not significantly decrease, the rule failed to even meaningfully increase the number of touchbacks.
So, once again the NFL engages in a cosmetic and ineffectual rule change, which makes the game less exciting and has little-to-no chance of increasing player safety. Nor can the league say they had no warning the rule wouldn’t work, because Belichick already told them it wouldn’t work.
If the Patriots win the Super Bowl next week, between this and Deflategate, it’s shaping up to be one awkward trophy presentation ceremony.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn