|Texans GM Rick Smith said playing on a larger field wouldn't necessarily make the game safer. (US Presswire)|
With safety in mind, the NFL's competition committee looked at switching to a wider, CFL-style field as recently as a year ago and could examine the idea again, according to a published report.
The committee is scheduled to meet before the Scouting Combine this month. Former committee member Bill Polian told the National Football Post's Dan Pompei the NFL should consider widening the field.
“It's a radical idea, but I think it's worth thinking about,” said Polian, the six-time NFL executive of the year who's now an ESPN analyst. “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 built Grey Cup winners in Montreal and Winnipeg before taking over the Bills in 1986. The Canadian field is 35 feet wider than the NFL's 160-foot-wide field, and 30 yards longer.
Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, who played six years in Canada before coming to the NFL, told Pompei the CFL has fewer head-to-head collisions by big men.
“The lower-impact hits I think cause more problems over a period of time because there are more of them,” Moon said. “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.”
But the Texans' Rick Smith and another GM who spoke to Pompei said a wider field gives defenders more space to build up speed, leading to higher-impact collisions.
“The farther a player has to run in terms of contact, the less ferocious the contact is going to be. We know the most ferocious hits come from guys who are 10 yards apart and lay each other out. You have fewer higher power collisions in the Canadian League than here.”
Pompei notes the NFL is studying Aussie Rules Football, where players wear GPS devices to measure the speed and impact of collisions.
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