Schmitt Ballin': Possible Rule Changes To Come in NFL
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has put forth the idea of eliminating kickoffs for the 2013 season. To be voted on in March, 2013, the main force driving this drastic rule change is the high number of concussions to kick returners. According to the Daily Post, 17% of catastrophic injuries happen on kickoffs.
The proposed replacement for kickoffs is, after a scoring play, the scoring team would get the ball on their own 30 yard line, in a 4th and 15 situation. The team could go for it to try to get the ball back, or simply punt the ball away. In this case, punts will effectively replace kickoff.
In my opinion, this is first an unnecessary rule change, and second, an ineffective rule change. To start things off, concussions typically aren’t just a one time, “hit and you’re injured”, type of injury. More commonly, concussions root from the repeated beating that NFL players take on a day to day basis.
There is also no way that punts could ever replace kickoffs. They are meant for two entirely different things. Currently, when a team receives a kickoff, more often than not they are pinned down inside the 20, if not inside the 30. With punts, they are simply too inconsistent to give the same result as a kickoff. Especially when punting from the 30, once the 10 or so yards the punter is away from the ball is added, it will even be uncommon for a team to find themselves inside the 30. Even though it is only 10 or 20 extra yards of field position, it will drastically change the way the game is played from both a defensive and offensive standpoint. This change will simply give the elite players of the NFL too easy a shot at a touchdown.
Today, when a team scores but wants to get the ball back again, they go for an onside kick. In the new rule, they would face a 4th and 15 situation, which they could go for in order to keep the ball. This would make it way too easy to retain the possession after a score. Teams would just have to put in a little more practice to simple, 15 yard passing plays, and they could get the ball back whenever they wanted. Now, onside kicks are really a long-shot, last minute effort, that 9 times out of 10 doesn’t work. The new change would make it so easy, the only way to get the ball is off of a turnover.
Aside from why the change is bad, it simply wouldn’t be football without kickoffs. People are all worried about injuries, but come on, it’s a sport where you hit each other for the entire game. Every single day, players are risking their bodies to play, and the league officials need to realize that it is something they can’t change. At the end of the day, football will be football, but without kickoffs, it wouldn’t be football at all.