Despite what the National Football League has tried to do to make things safer for player, more changes reportedly could be coming to NFL kickoffs and punts after an uptick in special teams injuries this season.
According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, the league “has issued a significant call to action in response to disproportionately high injury rates on special teams.” As part of the NFL’s annual health and safety meeting with reporters covering Super Bowl LVI, the league reported that while concussions continue to decrease overall, they still occur more often on punts and kickoffs.
Chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said that one in six NFL concussions happened on special teams this past season while adding that special teams plays accounted for 30 percent of ACL tears and 29 percent of lower extremity muscle injuries.
Sam Schwartzstein, the former XFL Director of Football Operations, Innovation, and Strategy, decided to put the NFL in a body bag in response to the many injuries the league is dealing with.
Schwartzstein helped create many of the rules of the 2.0 version of the XFL and noted that they 400+ kickoffs and had zero injuries because of how they handled things.
Back in 2018, kickoffs were adjusted to eliminate the running starts of cover men and remove most double-team blocks. The very next year, the league then eliminated most blindside blocks in a move that was expected to improve the safety of punts.
“We are pleased with the concussion numbers, but we feel it’s not the full picture and we really want to aggressively reduce and work to eliminate avoidable head contact,” Sills said.