How do you make NFL football, an inherently brutal game, safer?
There’s certainly been no shortage of theories. Some believe we should take away the pads. Some believe we should require more padding (Note: This one is already on the books. In 2013, all players will be required to wear thigh and knee pads). Some, like Troy Aikman, believe we should ditch the helmets. And some believe we should shorten the preseason, though it’s hard to tell if this opinion comes from a concern for player safety or an acknowledgment that preseason football sucks to watch.
Enter Andrew Hawkins. The Cincinnati Bengals receiver has an idea, and it stems from his days as a Montreal Alouette, in the Canadian Football League. Hawkins believes that the NFL would be safer if the field was wider, as it is in the CFL.
NFL football is played on a field that measures 160 ft. wide; CFL football uses a 195-ft.-wide field. Hawkins is quick to point out that in Canada, football is played with 12 men on each side of the ball rather than 11, so even if the measure were considered by the league, they’d probably stop short of 195 ft.
But he believes that some added real estate, however much, would cut down the number of huge, potentially dangerous hits.
“It would prevent a lot of the severe collisions,” Hawkins told the Bengals’ official website, via ProFootballTalk. “Guys are getting faster every year. We know that. But with the NFL spacing being more confined than the CFL, there are a lot more big hits. There are a lot more tight windows. It would prevent not all, but a larger portion, of big hits. There are more big hits here. I don’t care how fast you are. If a field is a certain size, you’re not going to be able to get there by the time the ball gets there.”
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