NFL safety: Should fields be made wider?

February 12, 2013

The NFL might consider stretching the width of its fields. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

In its ongoing search for ways to make an inherently dangerous game safer, NFL officials have debated whether to increase the width of the playing field.

The NFL’s competition committee considered the idea of going to a CFL-type field as recently as last year and could revisit it, the National Football Post’s Dan Pompei reports, with the committee meeting later this month at the Scouting Combine.

“It’s a radical idea, but I think it’s worth thinking about,” Bill Polian, the former Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts executive who now works for ESPN, 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.”

Polian’s Montreal and Winnipeg teams won the Grey Cup before he jumped to the NFL. The CFL’s field is 35 feet wider than the NFL field, which 160 feet wide. It’s also 30 yards longer. At issue is whether, with less congestion in the middle of the field, there’d be fewer jarring collisions. Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith thinks there’d be most high-speed collisions between increasingly faster, stronger players. Warren Moon, who played in both the NFL and CFL, believes a wider field would reduce the accumulation of smaller hits, which have a devastating effect, too.

“The lower-impact hits I think cause more problems over a period of time because there are more of them,” Moon told Pompei. “A wide receiver doesn’t get the number of hits a linebacker or lineman gets on a day-to-day basis. Those hits accumulate over time and probably do more damage than a big hit a receiver might get a few times a season.”

It’s a radical change, one that might not be easily accomplished in some stadiums. It would also essentially eliminate the defensive game, wouldn’t it? How would you feel about that?

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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