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Monday, August 15, 2011
Dirty Laundry update: No NFL permission

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

As the Chicago Bears returned to training camp Monday, several reporters caught up with special teams coordinator Dave Toub in hopes of understanding more about why the Bears kicked off twice from the 30-yard line in Saturday night's preseason opener.

I realize this isn't exactly the scandal of the century, but it is topical considering the emphasis the NFL has placed on player safety and its insistence that kickoffs from the 35-yard line are safer. Here's what Toub said, via ESPNChicago.com:
"We talked to the NFL beforehand during the offseason and they said it was going to be OK [to kick from the 30]. That's why we did it. I guess [the instruction to kick from the 35] came down from New York. They got word we can't kick from the 30, and we just went back to the 35 after that."

I don't have any reason to doubt the authenticity of what Toub said. He's a pretty straight shooter based on my experience. But it's clear that something got lost in the translation in that conversation with the NFL, which wouldn't seem likely to permit an intentional circumvention of rules designed to protect players.

In fact, an NFL spokesman had this response when I asked if the Bears were given permission to kick off from the 30:

"No."

Where does this leave us? Where we always thought we were: Heading into the season with kickoffs set to be placed at the 35-yard line. We know now that there is no alternative.