The NFL might be a safer place, but not necessarily a happier one.
By a count of 26-6, teams voted Tuesday to modify the kickoff by moving forward 5 yards to the 35, thereby increasing the likelihood of touchbacks and decreasing the number of returns, citing frequent injuries as the impetus for change. The 20-yard line will remain the spot on touchbacks, instead of the proposed change to the 25, and a two-man wedge still will be permitted.
Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, said the move should result in 5 percent to 15 percent more touchbacks. That’s not welcome news for teams with great kick returners, such as Seattle’s Leon Washington and Chicago’s Devin Hester.
“I can’t believe we’re really talking about it – the most exciting play in football,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said before the vote. “Our fans are probably more interested in coming to see Devin Hester run a ball back, as opposed to a kicker kick it out of the end zone with no action. We’re totally against the rule.”
Teams also voted in a proposal that will allow a replay official in the booth to review every score, whether it’s a touchdown, safety or field goal.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was ejected from an upscale Dallas shopping mall after a dispute over the sagging pants worn by him and some companions. ... The annual meetings concluded in New Orleans with none of the league’s 32 owners or commissioner Roger Goodell able to guarantee the season would start on time or that it would contain a full schedule. Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was sentenced to six years of probation for an encounter with a teenage runaway and must register as a sex offender in a ruling at Rockland (N.Y.) County Court. The girl, now 17, said she is upset because Taylor did not get jail time.