Count Cleveland kick returner Joshua Cribbs among those not happy with the NFL's decision to move kickoffs up to the 35 from the 30. Even if it's meant to make the game safer.
"I’m very upset about it. I highly disagree [with] the rule changes," Cribbs told host Adam Schein in an interview on SIRIUS NFL Radio. "Especially while there’s no CBA in place I’m just baffled by their reasoning behind it, you know, changing the rules. Of course I know the reasoning behind it. I just disagree. Trying to make the game safer, I commend their efforts. I just think it could’ve been handled a lot better. Changing those rules will affect a lot of people including myself and incoming college [players] as well.”
Cribbs said the NFL is using the rules change as an excuse to usher in the era of the 18-game season. "Well, if you look at it, the reasoning is to make it safer," he said. "Why do they want to make it safer? Because of the two-game extension [to the regular season] that they really want to pass bad. One of our main reasons for not having this two-game extension is because of our player safety. We feel the season is long enough. That’s one of our biggest things, is our contracts aren’t guaranteed. So if we get hurt, if something happens to us, we’re like, hey, this two-game extension cannot happen. So their take is, 'Hey, we’re gonna make the game a lot safer.' If you look at the past eight years, all the rule changes with the wedge, hitting a guy defenseless and this, this and that, the rules, the games have been changing a lot so they can add this.
"But they’re not seeing how it is changing people’s playing styles," he said. "You’re asking guys to change up the way they’ve been playing their whole careers, their whole lives, and you’re asking them to do stuff that didn’t even get them into the NFL. This is a great sport already. We know what we signed up for.”
Cribbs said the effect on special teams will be a major one.
"They always say in basketball free throws win games," he said. "Well, you know what? In football special teams win games. It doesn’t matter how good your offense or defense is, if they give up one kickoff return, one fumble on punt return, that changes the whole game drastically. You win and lose games on special teams and that’s what me and Devin Hester have been able to do for our teams. So if you take that out of it, I mean, you lose the excitement [of] all these 100-yard returns. You’re losing excitement of a great sport. You’re losing it. And that’s why I’m kinda upset about it but it’s just, wow, you’re changing the game so much.”