The NFL is always looking to make the game better. The word “better” can be used in many ways and those of us who might be a bit cynical might define it as “trying to make more money off of fans.” In order to do that though, the league needs to make the product more entertaining. A rule change for this season is to bring the ball out to the 25-yard line on kickoffs if a player calls for a fair catch.
On the surface that seems to take some exciting plays off the table — namely opportunities like those from Buffalo Bills return man Nyheim Hines. Less excitement seems bad for business. We take a look at some stats to see if the league is jeopardizing their bottom line a bit with this decision.
The video is seven minutes, chock full of great stats on kickoff returns. You should probably watch it. If you can’t be bothered to and my guilt trip didn’t convince you to give it a whirl, then here’s a summary.
You’ll want exact numbers for this (which are in the video), but the data supports the NFL on this. We all love an incredible play for a touchdown, or maybe a turnover (by the opponent). They just don’t really happen. Seriously, look at the numbers. And on top of that, the data can make an argument that returners shouldn’t call for a fair catch anyway.