National Football Post is reporting this morning that the NFL might be considering expanding the regulation fields, widening the width from the current 160 feet to 195 feet as in the Canadian Football League (CFL). This, as the website describes is being considered as an alternative to decrease the concussion issues and try to continue to convince people that the game is going to get safer. The CFL field is also 30 yards longer than the current NFL field.
The only outcome I can see from this potential move is a lot of stadium scrambling to accommodate such a move. I can also see an increase in scoring and the NFL Players Union being upset with a bigger field since so many contracts have incentive clauses in them for performance, 30 more yards on a field means higher yardage totals at the end of the season.
NFP reports that the NFL competition committee has investigated the CFL game as recently as last year. The site also quotes Warren Moon and Bill Polian as saying that the Canadian version of the game is safer because players are spread out more. I disagree, their talent level is less than the NFL.
Explain this to me then. If the NFL is exploring the option of opening up the field, how are stadiums going to comply? I’ve been to Raymond James Stadium countless times, expanding that field 17 1/2 feet on either side is going to run the coaching staffs into the stadium wall, as it will in numerous other venues around the league.
And exactly how do we facilitate this possible field expansion? Does it start at the Pop Warner level? Are local communities going to have to fund expansions of their fields? How about high schools? Let’s not forget the NCAA? After all, when a player learns the game on one field for all of his life and then immediately jumps to the next level with a significantly larger field, how is he going to respond?
I would imagine that coaching would change on the bigger field as well. Defensive schemes would have to be realigned. Slot receivers all of a sudden have more room. Running backs have more space outside the tackle.
It all sounds great, but the plain, simple fact is that the hits are still going to come. Warren Moon can talk all he wants about the CFL, but the quality of players in that league do not compare with the players in the NFL. How many players migrate to the NFL from the CFL on an annual basis? Not many.
If the NFL decides to adopt the CFL field, then Vegas better start setting over/unders at 100. Drew Brees might throw for 6,500 yards in a single season. Could you imagine the production of read-option offense in that scenario?
There are going to be no easy answers to this situation. I understand that the league is scrambling while trying to show that they are doing all they can to prevent injuries and concussions with their impending lawsuit, but changing the size of the field is not the answer. Eventually someone gets hit.
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