Eliminating Kickoffs: You Have Gotta Be Kidding Me

By Daniel Hutchinson
December 06, 2012 11:24 pm
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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.

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20 months ago
I think kickoffs are dangerous as I am pretty sure that their has been research that 40% of concussions happen on kickoffs. I say keep kickoffs but spot the ball at the 50 yard line so you basically guarantee touch backs, but still have the opportunity to do an onside kick if needed.
20 months ago

I like your comment because it reminded me one element I did not touch on. The onside kick is another exciting element that would be changed and wrecked by this rule change. Again I say leave the rule alone for the betterment of the game
20 months ago
Goodell's rule changes should be tried in the Pro Bowl, not the regular season. People aren't watching that game now anyway and do we want the best players on special teams plays which most of them haven't been participating on. Try this for 5-10 years to develop a sample and see if this new rule is worth it. I am not that crazy about it but if you delay this for 5-10 years maybe newer equipment can be developed in the meantime to make this '4th & 15 or punt' idea irrelevant and forgotten.
20 months ago

Maybe if they tried this change or any change in the Pro Bowl they will see how stupid they are and how much the fans hate them
20 months ago
I really hope something this dumb does not happen.. I think they will eventually get rid of the kickoff. Because teams are going to catch on and start kicking it off sky high to pin teams deep. That will be the day the kickoff will be gone. The NFL is starting to get carried away with all these rules, its hard to watch the NFL now. A defensive player hits a qb in the head with their arm, 15 yards and probably a fine.
20 months ago

Yup
20 months ago
This is the dumbest rule suggestion ever. A team scores then, instead of punting, goes for it on fourth and 15 and makes it. They could score again then the same scenario could play out for the entire game. As long as the first team keeps making at least field goals, the opposition would never see the ball Wow, what a great game that would be, huh Goodell? BTW, how do you decide who gets the ball to open the game? Flip a coin to see who punts? Schiano should go back to Rutgers, except they wouldn;t like that rule, either.
20 months ago

If I understand it right they would still have Kickoffs at the beginning of each half
20 months ago

Oh, so ballcarriers would still be in danger, but only twice a game. Can they put the returner in a giant rubber ball so he won't get hurt?
20 months ago
Eliminate the kick off and go to basketball playground rule of," make-em take-em. This will inflate the offense numbers, like nothing else. Visiting team gets the ball to start the game, home team gets it to start 2nd half. Punt team, 8 yard drop only and no return man, ball down when touched by either team. No fumbles or muffs, just contact of ball and all impact takes place at short range. All other rules apply.
20 months ago
This is interesting. For one thing, would give a team behind the chance to go for a 4th and 15...which probably has a higher chance of success than an onside kick (which are particularly violent and risky).
20 months ago

Or give a team like the Patriots the chance to run up the score to 92.
20 months ago
I wonder how many concussions occur on punts....
20 months ago

i guess there far less on punts.. cause on punt team, the reciving team has to run backword then go forword so the collision is not AS bad.
20 months ago
I really like that idea. I think that it has to make football far more safe to play & also sounds like fun. Just saying...
20 months ago
I think the proposed rule has merit. Players are so much bigger and faster now that crippling injuries and possibly death can result from the collisions. Rules to protected players that have already been implemented were perceived to ruin the game but have not. Basically, you would still have a kickoff but it would be a punt instead of a place kick. Starting 4th and 15 probably has a similar chance of success as the onside kick. I don't think you give up much in return for improved safety.
20 months ago
I completely disagree with this rule change, and think it's the stupidest idea Goodell has had yet (I know, it's not technically his idea, but you know what I mean) I will be mad beyond mad if this is actually implemented.
20 months ago
Greg Schiano should've stayed at the college level. This guy is so annoying. Football is a contact sport. How about they keep it that way. They already made it easier for touchbacks. Forget the statistics, guys get injured in every part of the game. These guys get paid millions of dollars to smack each other around, and they have fun doing it. Give me a break. I have sympathy for the few cases of career ending injuries but that's the gamble they take. Kickoffs are such a crucial staple of traditional football.
20 months ago

Thank you, I totally agree with your comments about football being a contact sport
20 months ago

it is kind of funny that Schiano is proposing this rule change because of player safety but he wanted to try and bum rush the quarterback when an offense was in the victory formation (real safe uh?)
20 months ago
Hey at least the NFL is not as bad as the XFL who had no kickoffs and the ball was left like on the fifty yard line and the players had to rush for it and cover it which caused lots of injuries
20 months ago
You might as well make the NFL flag football with all the rule changes player's unions and players want. Every part of uniform used to be legal for tackles, now you can't grab the collar to make tackles--yet a player can make the same tackle using HAIR hanging out back of helmet! The facemask should be ONLY part of uniform off limits from tackling and IF NFL wanted to stop facemask penalties and heads being jerked around-install mesh in the facemask and it eliminates any finger or hand holds. Kickoffs have always been part of NFL--it idiotic moves like this continue--count this fan since '63, OUT AS A FAN! I'm fed up with showboating and intimidation being accepted as player behavior from a bunch of overpaid WWE wrestlers with pads and helmets, because that's what NFL is being turned into--no longer athletic competition, just more glorified entertainment.
20 months ago
A lot of these injuries are caused by bad technique or players half-assing it on plays. While I've a lot of sympathy for injured players (been there, done that), guys who play dumb or dirty (or both) get my goat. These are pros - they are meant to be the best - and if your technique isn't up to scratch after years of playing, McDonalds' are hiring. How about a novel change to punishment instead? If you injure a player and it's deemed unwarranted or dangerous play, you get suspended without pay for as long as that other player sits out.
20 months ago

Good points

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