NFL Football Without Kickoffs?

Anyone who knows me knows that football season is my favorite time of the year. It’s a sport all about brute strength and watching opposing teams go out there and knock each other silly. The harder the hits the better. Well, today I read the following article:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8720551/roger-goodell-says-nfl-competition-committee-consider-eliminating-kickoffs

I totally understand they want to make the game safer. And they have been moving towards that for several years with fining players for questionable hits, high hits, late hits, hits on players who aren’t involved in the play going on in the field, treating the Quarterbacks with kid gloves, etc. The owners spend a lot of money on the players on the field, it’s like an investment with some of the players. But I think they are getting close to making the game much less attractive. Pretty soon someone is going to suggest we just turn the NFL into a flag football league.

Youth football should be all about safety and avoiding injuries as much as possible. Because of the nature of the sport you will never be able to remove the risk of injury altogether. Any sport has a risk of injury, even though too a much lesser degree than football. But once you get to the high school level, the players are old enough to know the risks of the game and make decisions for themselves.

This plan to reduce kickoffs is just going to far in my opinion. First, they have already increased the number of touchbacks which do not require any run backs to almost half the kickoffs with the changes they implemented last season. Second, I’ve not seen anything that says kickoffs are any more dangerous than any other play in football. Most of the major injuries I remember seeing happen usually happen on normal football plays. And if kickoffs are so dangerous, how is that any different from punts?

One aspect I do like of the proposed change is the 4th and 15 option from the 30 yard line. I could see this being an exciting way to replace the onside kick. Onside kicks are rarely successful. There would be a better chance of converting the 4th and 15 option than their is in converting an onside kick. This could keep the game interesting late in the game when your team is down. No fan really believes their team has a chance when they are down 9 points with 2 minutes to go in a game because of the low percentage chance of recovering an onside kick. If they adopted this change in itself I could be excited about it. But not if it comes with removing the kick off from the game.

The better solution to the safety concerns in my opinion is three fold. First, they need to improve the safety of the helmets. Second, they need better monitoring of the players by doctors and medical professionals. Players need to be honest when discussing their injuries with the team doctors. No player wants to miss time on the field, but long term safety needs to be a consideration as well as how quickly you can get back into the game to help your team. The third step is education, both for the players and the teams as well.

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