The number of concussions on kickoff plays was cut in half last season in the NFL, according to Hunt Batjer, the NFL's co-chair of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
Here's Batjer, speaking to Chicago-area high school coaches and players. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:
"We just got the data recently," said Batjer, the co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and department chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "It looks to me like a decreased number of runbacks played a role. It did not affect a lot of the other injuries paradoxically."
I see it as a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that there are fewer concussions. Kicking off from the 35-yard-line resulted in more touchbacks, fewer returns, and thus, fewer concussions. Healthier brains is good news.
The bad news is that the only way the league has found to reliably reduce concussions is, in essence, to play less football.
I wish we had the raw data ‒ the exact number of concussions from 2010, and the number from 2011. It'll be interesting to see if the data continues in the same direction in 2012.
For now, what we do with this information, I don't know. I'm sure it's enough to squash any conversation that might've ensued about moving kickoffs back to the 30. But again, the only thing we've proven is that less running and hitting results in fewer concussions, and I think we pretty much knew that.
At least now there's something concrete to point to, in terms of concussion danger, when Roger Goodell next brings up playing an 18-game season.