Matthew Slater strongly defends keeping kickoff, says eliminating it would be ‘tragic’
Kickoffs are currently becoming a hot topic in both professional and college football.
In collegiate football, they have already begun making changes. On Friday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a rule change that will result in a fair catch on a kickoff inside the 25-yard line being a touchback.
On the NFL side, Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy previously said that the league’s medical department provided statistics to show that concussions are five times as likely on kickoffs versus an average play; therefore, heightening the discussion about the issue.
Eliminate kickoff? Adjust it? Whatever you do, Matthew Slater thinks that kickoffs should stay just how they are.
The New England Patriots’ special teamer spoke very strongly about the subject at a press conference on Tuesday. Here are some of his thoughts:
“You take away this play from football, you’re changing the fabric of the game,” he said. “It really makes me ask the question, ‘Where do you go from here? What would happen next?’ I don’t know the answer to that. I look at a number of plays. I look at a goal-line stand. I look at a third-and-one. Think about the collisions that are happening there. Those are maybe deemed unsafe by some people.”
Slater added that those who play the game understand the inherent risks and know what comes with the game of football but altering one major aspect of the game to make it safer could lead to more and more changes down the line.
“The game has changed so much in my lifetime since my father [Jackie Slater] played to now, and I understand,” Slater continued. “I’m a player rep. No one cares more about player health and safety than the players, than the men that are out there on the field putting their bodies on the line. That being said, we understand that we’re playing football. To take away the kickoff, I really think it would be tragic. You’re changing the fabric of the game that we all love to cover, report on, play, coach. I think it’s very disheartening to continue to have brought this up.”
Slater says he will continue to be a strong advocate for keeping the kickoff, and will back up his argument all season long.