Should the NFL Eliminate the Kickoff?
The NFL season is in full swing and down to the last three weeks when the playoff picture is really starting to take shape. College football has been equally exciting this year, with one of the biggest stories of the year being Notre Dame returning to the National Championship game on January 7th against Alabama. There has also been a lot of talk about safety in football; the NFL in particular. Rumors are swirling that the kickoff could be eliminated in the name of player safety. What, are you kidding me? The kickoff can be one of the most exciting moments in any football game. One of the keys to being a championship caliber team is to have strong special teams play and the kickoff could change the outcome of any given game in the blink of an eye.
What about the strategic aspect of the kickoff? At a critical point in the game, the kick after a score could be the key to what happens next, especially if the kick is an onside kick, which can literally be a game changer for both teams.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently discussed a proposal that would allow the kicking team the option of having a fourth-and-15 from it's own 30-yard line instead of kicking off - completely ridiculous.
One thing that has helped cut down injuries sustained from kickoffs is last year's rule of kicking the ball from the 35-yard line as opposed to the 30. The number of returned kickoffs fell from 80% in 2010 to 53 % in 2011 and concussions dropped by 40 % on kickoffs during that time as well.
Granted, kickoffs do have the potential to be just as dangerous as they are exciting, but eliminating an integral part of the game is absurd. There are better ways to improve player safety without eliminating something as important as the kickoff. If they do it in the NFL, rest assured it will filter down to all levels of football from college to pee-wee and that should be unacceptable.