Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie head coach Greg Schiano continues to have his presence felt around the league and his name in the headlines. First, Schiano was caught up in a “controversy” over how he decided to play defense against the victory formation. Second, Schiano’s name has been in the news because of how well Tampa Bay has done this season and because of his possible nomination for coach of the year.
Now, Schiano has proposed a new idea to Commissioner Roger Goodell and Rich McKay who is the head of the competition committee. Under his proposal, kickoffs would be eliminated following a team scoring a touchdown or field goal. Instead the team that scored would get the ball on their own 30-yard line with it being fourth down and 15 yards to go. The decision for that team would then be the same as any other fourth down; get a first down or punt the ball.
The reasoning behind this change is to try and eliminate violent collisions that are said to occur more often on kickoff returns, which do not occur as often on punt returns. Essentially, the reason for the change would be addressing player safety.
Roger Goodell is quoted as saying “It's a much different end of the play… It's an off-the-wall idea ... It's different and makes you think differently. It did me."
Football is a dangerous game. Most people would think that the players who sign up to play would know this to be true. However, the NFL lately has continually being making changes to the game to make the game safer. Giving players more pads and padding in their helmet is one thing but telling how they can or cannot tackle takes away from the competition and excitement of the game.
I thought that moving the spot where the ball was suppose to be kicked off was suppose to make the game safer but as not every kicker is kicking the ball to the back of the end-zone, now the league wants to make another change.
Ultimately, the league has to walk a fine line between player safety and making the game exciting enough to keep the fans entertained and buying tickets. All the rule changes on tackling and now kickoffs are going to do is anger fans. No fan wants to see more fourth downs every game; they want to see how far players can take the ball down the field after receiving the ball in their own end-zone. Yes, the potential collisions and gut-wrenching tackles make it more exciting, but it is those things that are keeping fans watching which ultimately pays the players paychecks.
It is ridiculous that players want to play the game for the money and fame, and in some cases even want to play while injured, yet after they retire they seem to “get wise” about the damage they did to their bodies and want to come back and blame and sue the league.
We need to leave the game the way it is, no teams in foreign countries, no 500 rules about when, where, and how to tackle an opposing player, and no eliminating kickoffs. The game has been around for almost a hundred years, it has worked for that long and it can continue to work well but only if the league is does not make changes that turn the NFL into an unrecognizable organization.
I will continue to watch football even if they make stupid changes, but I hope it can maintain a degree of integrity and toughness and not turn into a sissy league.
There was also some question about how to change the kickoffs if not in the way Schiano suggested? Again, I may get lots of grief for not willing to embrace change, but I think that kickoffs should still be the standard following a touchdown and field goal.