Vikings discussing how to vote on kickoff change

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  • March 21, 2011 - 10:48 AM

NEW ORLEANS -- The labor situation might be the big focus of the NFL meetings, but there also is the matter of one significant rule change that could be approved by the owners over the next two days.

The league's competition committee is proposing altering the rules for kickoffs. Done largely because of injury concerns, kickoffs would be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35; only the kicker would be able to line up more than 5 yards from the ball; touchbacks would place the ball on the 25 instead of the 20; and the wedge block, including the two-man wedge, would be eliminated.

This would be bad news for elite kickoff returners -- this includes the Vikings' Percy Harvin -- and clearly would alter strategy to a certain degree.

"There will be a lot of discussion over the next couple days about it, and I’m anxious to hear the competition committee’s argument for it, as well as what myself and other coaches will have to say for it or against it," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "So, it’ll be a lot of discussion. I know special teams coaches are wondering. It would definitely change the NFL as we know it. It would have a major impact on special teams -- in particular one of the most exciting plays in pro football, the kickoff return. Some weeks you’d be glad, because it’s not available when you play [Chicago's Devin] Hester or somebody."

Asked how he would balance his thinking when it comes to helping decide how the Vikings should vote, Frazier said: "You want to think about what’s best for the game as a whole. I think that’s how I would approach it, and I think that’s how our organization would approach it -- what’s best for the game."

In order to pass, the proposal will need to get at least 24 yes votes from the 32 owners. Zygi Wilf will cast the Vikings vote.

Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, said Sunday the matter would be discussed internally.

“We’ll discuss it with our ownership and we’ll kind of finalize where we’re at on that over the next 24 hours here," Spielman said. “ ... I know we’re going to be hearing all the pros and cons of it as we go through the process, but it can have a dramatic effect on how you approach that. From a kicker’s standpoint, from a returner’s standpoint. They’ll give us a lot of detail on that as we go through here the next couple of days.”

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