NFL considering a CFL size field (Width)

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The NFL isn't only signing players and coaches from the Canadian Football League, it might actually be considering mimicking its field.

In a continuous effort to create a safer game, the NFL could look into widening the field, similar to the CFL dimension. Former competition committee member Bill Polian told the National Football Post's Dan Pompei the league contemplated the move years ago and might do so again. The evolution of the NFL:
Take a look at how the NFL has evolved from its humble roots, and the efforts being made to ensure it continues to grow.
"It's a radical idea, but I think it's worth thinking about," Polian said. "You would have more space and perhaps a safer game. I say that based on my CFL experience. There are less collisions of that type in the Canadian game."

The Canadian field is 35 feet wider than the NFL's 160 feet.

Widening the field would drastically change the game in favor of the offense, where more space would make it even more difficult for secondary players -- cue Fantasy Football fans salivating.

Some believe the NFL has gotten too big, fast and strong for its field and spreading out the game could reduce the amount of high-speed collisions.

Not everyone is convinced, however. Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith told Pompei he believes if a player has more space to run, the collisions over the course of a game will be more significant.

The big, debilitating hits the league is trying to jettison, however, usually come from 5- to 10-yard bursts, with the defender lunging at an offensive player, not a 20-yard run-and-hit.

Field expansion might be a tad extreme, but in the age of concussion awareness, there is nothing the NFL wouldn't and shouldn't at least consider to make the game safer.

I do notice that outside of Buck Pierce we don't hear of many concussions and if we do it is not under the the same impact of the NFL. You don't hear Cohon being ripped on player safety as much as you hear it from Goodell either... Thoughts?

I personally think the NFL has bigger players, who are mean SOBs. Put them in a little phone both, and there are going to be a lot of violent collisions. Thing is, if you make a bigger field, would that just let the guys get more speed up for the vicious hits? Or would that make the players hesitant because if they miss there is more field for the offensive player to dodge him and score? I am not sure, but I think it might be worth a shot, as the owners are soon going to be having to deal with 10's of millions dollars in lawsuits from former and current players.

With the bigger field, the players will have to get smaller.

It's a no-brainer the NFL should go to as much of a CFL sized field as possible but I'll believe it when I see it.

I'd say you hit the nail on the head.

Charging full steam at a ball carrier,with ever increasing speed, leaves the defender prone to lateral maneuvers and cuts, hence the big play.

The smaller confines and close proximity of NFL fields allows for more repeated hits, albeit not generally at full speed, yet more problematic due to the frequency of impact, even during practices.

Exactly. This is, imo, what will lower the number of concussions that we are seeing evidence of now. If the NFL is serious about concussions then there needs to be almost a cultural shift as far as how the game is played. I think the game is already becoming more directed towards speed rather than strength and size and that will only continue, especially as these offenses are seeming to change with these fast running quarterbacks all over the place - something we have had on this side of the border for a long time. It sure seems like our game is being used as a model and making its imprint on the NFL game itself. Will the NFL adopt our size of the field? First of all if they make it as wide they may have to make it longer too, but who knows… I can see it happening but if it does I dont think it will be for about 10 years or so. A lot depends on the litigation going on between the league and its former players.

The one thing people are not really talking about enough is whether the players are wanting something to be done regarding the concussions. Although their voices need to be heard and dealt with, I am not really refering to the retired players but rather those that are still playing professionally as well as the next generations of players. I feel strongly that players know what they are getting themselves into. Anytime you are getting hit in the head repeatedly it is going to take it toll on you. That is just common sense. In the last 100 years we have seen it happen over and over again to heavyweight boxers. I am sure most of us can name numerous examples of former champions of the world who either are dealing with brain related injuries or those who perhaps even died as a result of these injuries (or in the very least suffered from them until the day they died). Football is no different and it isn’t like this was a big secret all this time we are just seeing it more.

Football is a beautiful game but it is a brutal one. Many of these players come from very poor backgrounds and obviously the big money in the NFL is alluring to these guys. At some point they must ask themselves if the payoff is worth the consequences. Judging by how big the game has gotten I think it is fair to say that many men have decided that it is in fact worth it. Regardless of what the NFL ends up doing to hopefully reduce the head injuries, I think the NFL needs to get a better health care plan set up for its employees past and present. The money is there. There isn’t really a reason not to do it.

As for the older guys, the ones who built the game into what it is today, they need to be helped. 40 years ago and 50 years ago pro football players were not living as lavishly as current players do because they never had the wages that current players enjoy. I feel badly for these guys because although they wore helmets starting in the 40s (which is evidence of some concern regarding brain injuries even then), there was not as much information as there is now for those men to make informed decisions about their health. The NFL really has vast room for improvement here. They gotta take care of the older guys who are suffering finacially due to their health problems.

This is wayyyyyyy off topic, but this brings up another conversation about athletes going broke. I’ve wondered before if any of the players blow their money thinking that in 15-20 years they will be a shadow of their current selves mentally. Seems silly but if my family is taken care of and you would tell me that when Im 45 that I’ll have the brain of a 90 year with severe dementia I am sure my perspective on things would change big time for the time.

I honestly feel like I could go on for days but I just realized how much I typed. Sorry if it is too wordy haha.

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(Repeat of NFL link)
Yes indeed the idea made the NFL site and is actually being picked up again for discussion.

Here's an old post I made on the matter about two years ago:

I doubt the NFL could fit a CFL sized field in many of their stadiums. But could maybe go with 60 yards by 100, instead of the present 50 X 100. That would mean more CFL sized D-Linemen and Linebackers IMO down there, and allow for smaller quicker RB's who could be able to turn the corner on that wider field.

The next thing you know they will want the 5 yard area on punt returns to spice up the game.

Quite the opposite. The NFL was discussing ways to further eliminate kick returns from a game. There was discussion of getting rid of kick offs in favour of a 4th and 15 on the own 30 yard line after scoring a TD and you could either go for it or punt. On punts most already end with a fair catch and unless they get rid of the fair catch rule there's no need for the 5 yard area. Apparently the NFL head honchos think kick/punt returning is exceedingly dangerous and continue to look for ways to take it out of the game, therefor they won't get rid of the fair catch. Quite sad considering returns are such an exciting part of our game.

Wolverine is correct.

I'll take a wider field with fewer returns under existing American rules ...for now that is. :slight_smile:

It could also be that eliminating punts is an idea born from the narrow field-collision issue. A wider field might save the punt because blockers and returners would have more room to maneuver and thus help avoid devastating collisions. The five yard rule would also help with this as it slows now defenders, but I can't see that happening.

Yeah rpaege. Thinking about the fair catch, I wonder how many returns have been nullified because they have a guy back there who fair catches the ball when with a 5 yard rule he might have been able to pull off a decent return of 10 or more yards. I don't get the fair catch and it contributes to injuries as well when a guy does it too late and the defender goes into him, not often but I've seen it happen. They should go to the five yard rule immediately I think. It just isn't good.

:lol: Earl you know better!

Rpaege and you both have a great point, but eliminating the fair catch in the NFL, or all of American football for that matter, is NOT going to happen for one huge historic reason that goes well beyond American football -- TRADITION.

Also now for all levels of play it is NOT going to happen, as Rpaege suggested otherwise, given one huge modern reason -- LITIGATION.

NCAA football did attempt a "halo" rule on punts years ago, but it was changed after I believe only a season or so and the penalties with regard to the rule change were numerous.

I do believe that Canadian football, as makes it great, is the only major modern football game without some form of a fair catch as exists in all other forms of football of which I am aware other than association football/soccer for which the "header" replaced it. If someone knows anything about Gaelic football, maybe they can weigh in but I bet they have either a mark or a header too.

The fair catch goes back to the 1850s in Australian Rules football for that matter and has been in use in some form in every game of football ever since except for soccer as allowed headers beginning I believe in the 1880s.

This is a reasonable point of view to which I offered the following view in a concurrent thread "Be Careful What You Ask For":

Often many rules changes, including the discussion of widening of the field, begin at the NFL level and filter down.

I doubt the field will be widened anyway for both the high school and college games, and such a move is unnecessary for that matter at that level of play.

NFL play is a whole other dimension in American football!

Also most NFL stadia are big enough to allow for a wider field because those that were built since the 1990s were built to allow for also a soccer field with removal and re-positioning of seats.

Also there would be a phase-in period for older NFL stadia though still with wider fields as the dimensions would permit.

Tradition Paolo? And yet a major league in baseball can allow a designated hitter for the pitcher? If baseball can do that, then eliminating the fair catch should be easy. And they could adapt to it, it might take a season or two but it could happen just like Americans who come here to play adapt to it in a short time.

Ah but now, as stated below, litigation is the trump card even if you disagree on the point about tradition, and the NFL is not going to back anything that affords the opportunity for more kick returns of any kind.

I understand tradition but as I say, that isn't the major factor if we look at what MLB had done where they wanted more excitement in the game with more offense with the DH rule. I'm sure a lot of purists to this day don't like the DH rule. But agree that the litigation factor is the trump card and if the NFL wants to reduce run backs on kicks, no way would they allow the 5 yards CFL system. Unfortunately though I think, I like to see as many times as possible a returner trying to make a go of it.

Thought this was a decent read:

Touch Football? A guest entry by Dead Coach

I’m a bit old school, so I have thought for some time that the new “player safety? rules are going a little overboard. I have often said during games that a guy just got penalized for playing football. I realize that players have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, and that research we have now demands that we do something to protect our athletes’ health, but I am concerned about the one sided aspect of the new rules, and how they are effecting the game. I’d like to discuss the problem in terms of solutions, not just complain about it, so here are a few suggestions that I think would keep the safety aspect intact, but also balance the scales a bit more in favor of the defense, and keep the game of football a collision sport....

I don’t have a problem with the fair catch rule. With the hang time today’s punters get, you have to allow a fair catch. The problem I have is that they are giving “defenseless receiver? protection in addition to fair catch protection. Hey, if a guy needs protection, he can call a fair catch. If he gambles and gets hit right after the ball arrives, that’s a solid football play. I only saw the defenseless receiver called once on a return, but it turned a good hit and fumble recovery into a 15 yard return for the other team. Returners don’t need that protection. They have the fair catch option....

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I personally think it's too difficult for a returner to really know when to fair catch many times for a number of reasons and so you see fair catches sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, and no one is within 10 yards of the returner. That just isn't right for excitement.

Earl that was a good article. I don't agree with the recommendations on changing anything associated with the fair catch though.

I would agree with the recommendations made on hits on the QB and more calls for illegal contact by receivers on defenders but no calls for minor touching by receivers or defensive backs.

I also agree, and have proposed myself, the suspension concept both for the rest of a half or game and if bad enough an additional game. It's not just a financial matter, it's a playing matter for any given player.

Widening the field will not limit concussions or increase player safety. Guys still get concussions in the CFL - off the top of my head, I remember Andy Fantuz getting concussed, Kevin Glenn "getting his bell rung" and Drew Tate saying he didn't remember the first half of a playoff game last season - but there is a quarter of the teams in the CFL with a quarter of the players, so we are obviously going to hear about more players getting injured in the NFL. I don't see how widening the field will make any difference. Show me the stats that the CFL has drastically fewer concussions (say, 1/10th of those in the NFL) and then I'll change my tune.

True enough probably blogskee and from a media coverage point of view, any NFL concussion gets much more headlines than a CFL concussion so it may very well just appear that the NFL has more concussions on average per game than the CFL but might not be the case at all. :?