When the NFL decided to move kickoffs from 30 to the 35-yard line two years ago, many feared the death of the kickoff was near. And now, they may not be far off.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the possible rule change in an interview with Time Magazine set to hit newsstands on Dec. 17, according to Pro Football Talk. The issue entitled is “The Enforcer” and also features him on the cover of the magazine.
The idea behind the rule change shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as the high-impact collisions involved with kickoffs have been an issue of concern for the league in its quest to improve player safety. But it’s how Goodell is considering to change the play that’s the real kicker.
Goodell suggested that instead of a kickoff, the team that had the ball would be faced with a fourth down and 15 yards scenario at the 30-yard line. The team would then be faced with the option of either punting the ball away to the opposing team or going for the conversion, which would serve in the place of an onside kick.
The idea is definitely a novel one, but it would ultimately remove many of the high-speed collisions that players face during kick returns. It’s not to say that all injuries would be resolved with the rule change, but devastating injuries to the spine and head would likely see a decrease.
Goodell mentions in the article that the idea came from Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, which isn’t much of a surprise given his unique methods of coaching.
The rule change would definitely add some intrigue in late-game situations, and while decreasing opportunities for serious injury would also likely increase the scoring output around the league. Then again, it does feel eerily similar to something we’d see in the XFL. What’s next an opening scramble to determine first possession? This could get out of hand, and fast.
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