The NFL entered the offseason desperately needing to figure out what a catch is. Now that they believe they’ve figured that out, the league will move on to deciding whether they still need the kickoff.
A league spokesman told ESPN that the league will hold a summit on player safety at the league offices in the first week of May.
According to Pro Football Talk:
Kickoffs will be a focal point of the meeting, with continuing discussions about how to make the play safer — or get rid of it altogether. Packers President Mark Murphy said last month that the league was planning to call on head coaches and special teams coordinators to come up with solutions to the problem of concussions suffered on kickoffs, and that input will be sought at next week’s meeting. Steve Tasker, one of the best special teams players in NFL history, has confirmed that he’s part of the discussions around the future of the kickoff as well.
The summit represents a moment of truth for the league. The reality is that there’s no way to make the kickoff “safe,” while still having the kickoff. Twenty-one elite athletes (I refuse to include the kicker among the elite athletes) racing at each other at full speed while trying to impress their coaches by obliterating an opposing player, is an inherently dangerous thing.
If the league is convinced that the kickoff represents a clear and present danger to their players, then the only thing left to do is let the team that wins the toss take possession of the ball at the 20 or 25-yard line and get rid of the kickoff altogether.
This will of course result in the unemployment of dozens of players who were only on the roster because of special teams. Will the NFL Players Association sit quiet while the league makes a rule change which dramatically reduces their membership?
Of course, the league doesn’t want to do anything which would cause people to lose their jobs. However, if they’re true believers in the dangers posed by CTE, then how could they sit there and allow these players to continue to put themselves at risk?
These are big questions that will likely be asked in New York next week. Though, it’s not likely that all of them will get answered.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn