Should the NFL widen its field to help keep players safe?

Leading Off: Should NFL widen field to promote safety?

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 - 8:04 am

Before construction is complete at the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, the architects may want to re-check the blueprint.

They might need to take out the first two or three rows of seats on each sideline – yeah, that was Jed York screaming – so the playing field can be widened by 35 feet.

There reportedly have been discussions by NFL officials to widen playing fields from 160 feet to 195, the same width as Canadian Football League fields.

And with the owners meeting in March, the topic likely will come up again. Why?

It's believed a wider field would make it safer for players – there would be fewer violent collisions, thus fewer concussions. With NFL players bigger and faster than ever, fields have become too small.

Though the CFL has had its share of concussions, studies report fewer in our neighboring league, and one of the reasons cited is the wider field.

If there is a change, it's believed the NFL will keep its 100-yard-long field and 10-yard end zones. But still, the advantages would belong to offenses with more room to run and pass.

Can you imagine Adrian Peterson sweeping around the left end with two defenders to beat and an acre of field to do so? What would Joe Flacco have done against the 49ers? Chris Culliver can't cover Jacoby Jones on a regular-width field.

But why stop there, NFL? To even the playing field with the defense, why not give the offense only three downs, as in the CFL, where defenses are forced to line up one yard off the line of scrimmage?

The NFL would be changed forever. Records would break like on Disco Demolition Night at old Comiskey Park in 1979 (ask your parents).

Players' safety is important, but is it worth it at the expense of changing the dynamics of the game?

What to watch

NBA, Kings at Memphis, 5 p.m., CSNCA: The Kings go for three in a row against the new-look Grizzlies, who now include Tayshaun Prince.

What to do

NBA, Houston at Warriors, 7:30 p.m., Oracle Arena: Golden State tries to end a four-game losing streak before the All-Star break.

Today's poll

Should the NFL widen its field to help keep players safe?

• Yes, there would be more offense.

• No, it would hurt the game we love.

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports.

Monday's results

Should the Kings retire a Kevin Johnson jersey if he keeps the team from moving?

• Yes, a fitting honor: 62%

• No, for players only: 38%

Total votes: 490

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Read more articles by Victor Contreras

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