Schechter's Lectures No. 16: NFL Kickoff Rule

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Nov 8, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell before the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As we wind down the NFL regular season, I am going to abandon putting the topic into the title. That way, we can continue more of a “potpourri” style post, instead of pinning things down to one topic. With that, let’s get to it.

Take your seats, class is in session.

First, let’s take a look at this proposed change to the kickoffs. If you haven’t heard it yet, I will spell it out. The proposal is to eliminate kickoffs altogether. Instead, after a score, that team would get the ball in a 4th and 15 scenario from their own 30 yard line, and have the option to either punt the ball away, or go for the first down to maintain possession. The main proponent of the idea is Greg Schiano, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a noble idea, when you remember where it came from. While at Rutgers, he had his young player Eric Legrand paralyzed on a kickoff play, so it’s quite the noble idea for Greg to try and eliminate kickoffs on his behalf. The problem is, the idea is RIDICULOUS!

I see a hand up. “Why is it ridiculous?” Good question, I’ll tell you. If you want to get rid of a kick play, don’t replace it with MORE KICKS. If you add additional punts to a game, you are adding kicks that have longer hang time. On kickoffs, you at least get room to run before the hitting begins. Replace that with punts, and you have kicks where the hang time is HUGE. On a punt, the returner often can’t run three steps without running into someone. The hitting on punt plays is just as enormous. Come on Roger, you can’t replace kicking plays, with KICKING PLAYS. How is that going to solve ANYTHING? If you want to get rid of kickoffs, that’s fine. After a team scores, give the ball to the other team on their 20 yard line, and eliminate the kick play after a score altogether. If you are going to have a kick play of any sort, there is going to be injuries. It’s unfortunate, but there really is no way around it. But the answer is CERTAINLY not to take out kickoffs and replace them with punts. Sorry.

The bell has not rung yet, you are not dismissed. Turn the page.

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