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NFL players, coaches respond to idea of kickoff change

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comments in a TIME magazine article about the potential for a change in kickoff format set the football world atwitter Thursday.

Those who would be most affected by any rule change -- players and coaches -- had a plethora of responses when asked their thoughts on the idea:

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Jason Hanson, kicker, Detroit Lions (Detroit Free Press)"

"I don't want to say anything off the cuff here to eliminate my job. I just think again that they're thinking of everything. But gosh, getting rid of a kickoff is -- look at all the advertisements. Everything's kickoff. Not a punt off or a fourth-and-15 off. So yeah, I don't know what to say about that."

"What they have now is a decent mix. Touchbacks, and there are some returns. I think it accomplished what they wanted. I have a feeling the NFL has to make every effort to propose that they're doing everything for player safety because it's such a huge issue and it's going to be for a long time."

"You're going to see a lot more scoring, especially the way everybody is kicking touchbacks right now. If they are doing it purely for the safety factor ... I don't think the kickoff is the most dangerous play in football anymore."

"To do a drastic change to the process of the game ... I would be very skeptical over how much that would change the safety of the game."

Dave Toub, special teams coordinator, Bears (Chicago Tribune):

"I understand they are trying to do things for safety reasons, but I am not a big advocate of it. They are getting what they were expecting to get by changing those rules. There are definitely fewer hard, hard collisions like you used to see. I don't know why any more changes need to be made."

"You're talking about starting off a game with a punt, not that there is anything bad about that, but if you have a strategy in getting the ball because you have a really good kick-return team, now you are taking that out of the equation. You're talking about a whole different type of football game. You're talking about returners meaning more and less, punters are going to mean more and less, kickers are going to mean more and less.

"So the value of a player is going to go down drastically and the overall game will decrease if they change the kickoff rule to what they are thinking of."

"It would change the coaches' decision-making and stuff like that. I don't know how it works with out of bounds. Could you try to punt toward the sideline? To me, it sounds like it would just add more punt plays. That's all it sounds like to me — adds more punt plays and gives the offense a better chance of stealing a series in must-onside kick situations. Because it's probably going to be tougher to execute a must-onside than an offensive play (on fourth-and-15)."

Jim Schwartz, head coach, Lions (

"The kickoff is statistically the highest injured play in the game. They've looked very seriously at trying to do things that can change that. Moving the kick up to the 35 has had a big change in that.

"One thing, if you want to avoid the number of injuries, just avoid the number of chances to get injured. That's what's happened with the kickoff from the 35. It's forced more touchbacks, but it still doesn't change the way the play is."

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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