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Coaches concerned with new kickoff rule; fans should be, too

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  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL's proposal to move the kickoff up to the 35-yard line had been met here at the NFL Annual Meeting with some resistance before it passed on Tuesday, especially from coaches that have very good return games.

Fans should also be concerned about this modification. In 1993, the last season teams kicked off from the 35-yard line, there were four returns for touchdowns and 57 of at least 40 yards. In 2010, with the kickoff at the 30-yard line, there were 113 returns of 40-plus yards, including 23 that were returned for touchdowns -- the second most in a single season since 1991.

The kick return grew from a boring, almost insignificant play to a game-changer and one of the NFL's most exciting plays. It could again lose its luster. One head coach who has one of the league's top return men went as far as saying it would definitely alter his thinking on re-signing the player when his contract expires.

In another rule change, every scoring play will now be automatically reviewed by booth officials. That's great news, and it starts pushing the officiating of NFL games toward the college system, which I believe is better.

However, while sitting around last night with a group that included three head coaches discussing the merits of the proposal, a television executive suggested networks might struggle to make every angle of scoring plays available in 25 seconds and foresees some issues. Stay tuned on this one.

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