Is the NFL Considering a Drastic Change That Could Alter the Way the Game Looks?

Players wait on the field with half the lights out in the Superdome during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. Credit: AP

Back in December, one of the hot topics was whether the NFL was considering a major change that would alter the game of professional football: getting rid of kickoffs. Well, the NFL rumor mill is at full capacity now that it’s the offseason and another possible change is floating around the Internet: the NFL may be considering widening the field like that of the Canadian Football League.

Currently, the CFL fields are 195 feet wide while the NFL ones are 160 feet.

The site National Football Post broached the idea this week, and it’s starting to take off. Yahoo picked it up and even made it a front page story. And if you think it’s just boredom giving way to silliness, think again. One of those vocalizing the idea is former 6-time executive of the year Bill Polian — and he says the ideas was already starting to get talked about within the NFL community and specifically the all-important competition committee.

“I’m not so sure we shouldn’t think about widening the field,” Polian told the Post. “It’s a radical idea, but I think it’s worth thinking about. 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 idea is that a wider field would diminish brutal hits. But not everyone’s convinced.

Hall of Famer Warren Moon played in both leagues and said the wider field could actually be more dangerous.

“The lower impact hits I think cause more problems over a period of time because there are more of them,” he said. Additionally, defense players would also have more room to build up steam and hits could end up being even more brutal.

There’s also another downfall, he added: ““It would be hard for defenses to stop the offenses. They are having a hard time stopping them now. It would be harder with a bigger field. There would be a lot more scoring, I know that. If you make the field bigger, bigger lanes, bigger areas, it will be tougher for those defensive backs to cover.”

Polian isn’t buying it.

“The farther a player has to run in terms of contact, the less ferocious the contact is going to be,” he said. “We know the most ferocious hits come from guys who are ten yards apart and lay each other out. You have fewer higher power collisions in the Canadian League than here.”

Still, Yahoo doesn’t think it will happen.

“[I]t’s hard to imagine the NFL changing one of the basic foundations of the game after so many years with the same size field. The last change this drastic might be when the league moved the goal posts from the goal line to the back of the end zone in 1974.

“Changing the width of the field would be a major change to the game, and while it doesn’t logically seem very likely to happen soon, the NFL needs to look at every possibility to quell the negative publicity over player safety issues.”

Read the full report over at National Football Post.