Former NFL General Manager Bill Polian had an interesting suggestion over the weekend to make football safer.
If it were up to Polian, he'd take a page out of the Canadian Football League's book and widen the field from 160 feet to 195 feet with the thought that widening the field could significantly impact safety in regards to head injuries.
“I’m not so sure we shouldn’t think about widening the field. It’s a radical idea, but I think it’s worth thinking about. You would have more space and perhaps a safer game" said Polian, who has served on the competition committee in years past. "I say that based on my CFL experience. There are less collisions of that type in the Canadian game.”
Polian's thinking is that a wider field would spread people out, giving them more time to react in space, and especially in the middle of the field, where a lot of big hits take place.
“The farther a player has to run in terms of contact, the less ferocious the contact is going to be. We know the most ferocious hits come from guys who are ten yards apart and lay each other out. You have fewer higher power collisions in the Canadian League than here.”
People on the opposite side of the argument argue that kickoffs have been adjusted because of distance and space that big, strong, fast players have available to deliver a hit.
Making the field bigger would no doubt affect everything from scoring, to schemes to even how teams draft, so such drastic change may be a little further down the road, but according to the National Football Post article, widening the hash marks (similar to where the college game has them placed) has been talked about over the past few years, and the NFL is also taking a close look at Aussie Rules Football where players currently wear a GPS device that studies speed and impact.
It will be interesting to see what all this research will show, and what changes (if any) are made to change the game we all dedicate so much time and energy to.