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John Mara: NFL “evolving toward” eliminating kickoffs

Brad Smith AP

The NFL’s decision last year to move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 may have been the first step toward moving kickoffs out of football completely.

That’s the word from Giants owner John Mara, a Competition Committee member who says the conversations have already started about potentially taking the play that has started every football game in history out of the league for good.

“We had a lot of discussions about whether we should eliminate it and if we did what we could do in its place,” Mara told Giants.com. “There’s no consensus on it right now, but I could see the day in the future where that play could be taken out of the game. You see it evolving toward that.”

Mara says the Competition Committee’s top priority is player safety, and that the increase in touchbacks last year coincided with a decrease in concussions. In the eyes of the league office and NFL owners, that proves that moving the kickoff was the right idea.

What’s unclear is what would take the place of the kickoff if it ceased to exist. Mara says the NFL won’t eliminate the kickoff until it has the right plan for how to get rid of it, but he seems to think the kickoff is just a fundamentally unsafe play.

“Nobody would go that far now, but we talk about different blocks that we can outlaw,” Mara said. “The problem is that the concussions come from everywhere, from the wedge, from the crossing blocks where a guy goes from one side of the field to another, from a full speed collision between a return guy and a tackler. So there’s no one thing that you can do. It’s something that we’ll continue to watch as closely as possible.”

If the NFL were to eliminate the kickoff, it would likely adopt a rule that after every touchdown or field goal the other team gets the ball at the 20-yard line, and that each half starts with one team getting the ball at the 20 as well. A bigger question is whether onside kicks would continue to exist: Late-game strategy would change significantly if the onside kick was no longer an option.

But make no mistake: The NFL is serious enough about cutting down on injuries on kickoffs that last year’s rules change won’t be the last one.

“There was no support for moving the kickoff back to the 30 yard-line,” Mara said.

And some day, there may be no support for having kickoffs at all.

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163 Responses to “John Mara: NFL “evolving toward” eliminating kickoffs”
  1. cornellsteelers says: Apr 14, 2012 2:38 PM

    Sad, yet unfortunately all too predictable.

  2. packsucks says: Apr 14, 2012 2:39 PM

    Mara you are a bigger IDIOT than Sapp! Get off the Meth that means the NFL is going to die.

  3. nyyjetsknicks says: Apr 14, 2012 2:40 PM

    If you want to start a flag football league then do it. Stop messing with the NFL.

  4. ticalcaldwell says: Apr 14, 2012 2:40 PM

    good way to improve game…..

    signed
    Pro Bowl

  5. sbs0311 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:41 PM

    I have no respect for the NFL’s safety crusade considering they’re still unwilling to use safer helmets because they like the ‘sounds of the game’ for entertainment purposes.

    This league is beyond hypocritical with player safety, and it’s well-documented.

  6. nyyjetsknicks says: Apr 14, 2012 2:42 PM

    There’s a chance the players could get into a car accident driving to the stadium. For their safety lets play the game on madden.

  7. tylerricharddunn says: Apr 14, 2012 2:42 PM

    Well, I guess we now know why the Bears are insisting on developing Devin Hester as a receiver.

  8. rapskins says: Apr 14, 2012 2:44 PM

    Don’t count on any support from the Skins and Boys on this, Mara.

  9. nomoreseasontix says: Apr 14, 2012 2:45 PM

    Maybe they could move the kickoff to the 20 and make it a dead ball. The receiving team couldn’t advance it.
    And a touchback causes the receiving team to start from the 15.
    That would sure place a premium on kickers…

  10. anon5121 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:48 PM

    packsucks, What is idiotic about player safety? What an ignorant comment. Lawsuits against the NFL will kill it if owners do not make necessary changes.

  11. theblondbomber says: Apr 14, 2012 2:48 PM

    If they actually ever go through with this, I vow to publicly light my self on fire in protest. This is that serious people.

  12. tfbuckfutter says: Apr 14, 2012 2:48 PM

    Tea Party.

    That’s how to eliminate the kickoff.

    Special Teams sit across from each other, at a table, perhaps adorned with a nice doily. Now, one team is “kicking” and the other is “receiving”. So if the teams drink the exact same number of cups of tea in a 45 second face off, then the ball starts at the 20. The receiving team gets 10 extra yards for every cup more that they drink. And the kicking team pushes back 5 yards for every additional cup they drink. So if both teams drink 10 cups, the ball starts at the 20. If the kicking team drinks 9 and the receiving team drinks 11, the ball starts at the 40.

    Special teamers are, of course, no longer allowed to play other positions during actual game play though, as we wouldn’t want them to get upset tummies, and also, all that caffeine could cause them to be a bit too aggressive.

    I believe this will really help sell the game, especially in London.

  13. Vegas Guy says: Apr 14, 2012 2:49 PM

    VegasNites: NFL “evolving toward” a game I’m no longer going to watch.

  14. coltsluckdynasty says: Apr 14, 2012 2:49 PM

    C-ya later devin Hester, you are no longer relevant to the NFL. That’s all you were good for, because we all know that your receiving skills don’t amount to a paycheck….. Truth

  15. clarkisgod says: Apr 14, 2012 2:51 PM

    Put the flags on and call it powder puff.

  16. fijabbersman345 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:52 PM

    Yeah, and I’m “evolving towards” not watching anymore.

  17. kinggw says: Apr 14, 2012 2:52 PM

    Another step towards an 18 game season, the NFL is becoming a joke.

  18. themonster49 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:54 PM

    I dont see it that way. Who is “you” referring to?

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Translation: We will make it safer, not you. We will not be changing the game, and neither will you. Its ours, your time is up. We grew up liking kickoffs, so they will stay when we make the rest of our changes. Get out of the way before we move you out of the way, leave with dignity.

  19. jets13 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:54 PM

    I am not in favor of this, but if a change HAS to be made: Substitute punts in for kickoffs, the “punting” team punts in punt formation from their own 40……seems to be far less injuries in punts….or the team has the option to run 1 play and gain X amount of yards (presumably 10) in the place of an onside kick.

    I know the idea sounds ridiculous, but trying to come up with a solution that sounds better than just taking it at the 20.

  20. sschmiggles says: Apr 14, 2012 2:55 PM

    They’ve turned into 10 minute long commercial breaks. If you’re going to make them so boring anyway then I’m fine with getting rid of them.

  21. bduncanscott says: Apr 14, 2012 2:55 PM

    NEWSFLASH!! NFL HELL BENT ON RUINING FOOTBALL…..

  22. 91devinhester23 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:55 PM

    yeah… how about we leave them as is. I like watching fun stuff.

  23. gasteelers211 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:56 PM

    Here’s an idea…instead of ruining the game with all of these stupid rule changes, how about safer equipment…never mind, that makes too much sense.

  24. bduncanscott says: Apr 14, 2012 2:57 PM

    Leave the game alone! We LOVE big dramatic hit, we love watching a returner get creamed or elude everyone, we love when our team wins a game in over time by the foot of our kicker, if kicks don’t count in OT then why have kicking at all.. Again LEAVE THE GAME ALONE

  25. seattlerogueburner says: Apr 14, 2012 2:58 PM

    To be honest, it is a really unsafe play. Fun to watch yea, but those guys get blindsided by blocks so easily that lead to bad injuries. I remember playing high school football and would get blindsided on kickoffs constantly. Once even knocked out of the game.

    With all the lawsuits that the nfl is receiving with all these concussions, it’s pretty safe to say that they will take any precautionary action to make sure they don’t get sued anymore.

    I love kickoffs. Leon Washington, Patrick Peterson, DeSean Jackson have all made extremely memorable plays, but when you really think about it, it’s 11 guys running 70 yards, full speed at you. Out of everything in football, that portion is by far the most dangerous. Gotta look at the realistic point of views rather then what is just “fun to watch”

  26. redguy12588 says: Apr 14, 2012 2:58 PM

    As a fan of a team that always stinks at kickoff coverage and returns, I don’t really have a problem with this.

  27. bwareromo says: Apr 14, 2012 2:59 PM

    This is total crap. This truly is becoming a wuss league. They are turning the nfl into nascar. There is risk involved in playing this game, it sickens me to actually see fans supporting all these extra precautions that Roger G is taking to protect himself and the owners. The players are no better suing for concussion related injuries. I tore my acl playing highschool football and im not going to sue them.

    Newsflash u play a dangerous game ur going to get hurt. I cant walk properly anymore and i didnt make millions of dollars like these players. The nfl needs to bring back Tagliabue and the rules that made this a mans game

  28. philgrek says: Apr 14, 2012 2:59 PM

    I wouldn’t be all that upset if this happened.

    In fact, I’d probably love it since it’d mean getting rid of the “5 min. commercial break- 15 sec kickoff- 5 min. commercial break” format that happens after every score….

  29. eastsideballa says: Apr 14, 2012 2:59 PM

    I have a very simple solution to all this concussion BS. The NFL does not care about player safety, the reason why it seems that way is because the NFL is trying to take the violence out of the game in fear of being prospectively sued by future retired players. The simple solution to this would be adding a new stipulation to all new contracts that state you cannot sue the NFL for any post career health issues. Players know the risks they face stepping on the field that is why they get paid the way they do. Meanwhile the NFL can continue to work on better on field equipment that can help curb injuries (ie helmets, pads etc.) but as far deteriorating the game in the name of “safety” is complete BS.

  30. time2speakup says: Apr 14, 2012 3:00 PM

    It makes complete sense to do all possible to make the game safer. But since football still – and always will be – is about blocking and tackling, realistically, how far can you go with changes and still wind up with something this is still called football. Talk about your “catch 22.”

  31. cincybert says: Apr 14, 2012 3:01 PM

    What a shame it would be to eliminate kickoffs. Many guys have remained on rosters because of their ability to either return or cover kicks. Take out special teams, and it is likely that guys who ended up having very good NFL careers like Josh Cribbs, Dave Meggett, Terrell Davis, Steve Tasker (and the list could go on) would have never made it past final cuts.

  32. theguywhosaidit says: Apr 14, 2012 3:02 PM

    Why is this guy chairing the Competition Committee? Why not do something about the problems that actually exist, like finishing up this bounty crap. Why are we holding players and a team/fans in limbo about that and talking about what else this moron can do to ruin the game?

    Going to suspend the O-lines of the Cowboys and Redskins next? Make it so starting QB’s must be the holder for extra points? Why not have drug testers follow around every player not on the Giants? Why not pay some guy to setup a fence and dogs in Vicks yard, get some pictures, start that all up again? Can we quit with this now and let teams just play?

    Why not just be a gracious winner and focus on fixing the actual problems, and quit trying to ruin the game for the other teams/fans. Instead of “I don’t like special teams, lets get rid of an entire aspect of the game.” Going to cut down rosters sizes next? I’m sure the players will love where this is heading…. stop it. Go be old and angry somewhere else, quit with the power trip already.

  33. epicurean56 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:02 PM

    Eliminate kickoffs? Unbelievable! What are they gonna do for onside kicks? Flip a coin? Better yet, why not just flip a coin to see who wins the game, that way, no concussions at all. And we can all get on with the rest of our lives by finding something constructive to do with all our free time.

  34. dontouchmyjunk says: Apr 14, 2012 3:02 PM

    Don’t blame the league, blame the lawyers. Seems as if everyone who ever played in the NFL is ready to sue the league for their concussions.

    The NFL has no choice but to protect itself from future litigation.

    As with most good things in life, lawyers will ruin it for everyone.

  35. xxwhodatxx says: Apr 14, 2012 3:04 PM

    The NFL is evolving toward eliminating playing the game at all.

  36. majbobby says: Apr 14, 2012 3:06 PM

    The Killing of a great sport continues.

  37. majbobby says: Apr 14, 2012 3:08 PM

    Stop with the crying about player safety. It is a voluntary sport ad they are compensated fine. Leave the game as is

  38. ravenator says: Apr 14, 2012 3:08 PM

    Wow that’d be awful. Might as well throw out the Hester highlights if they plan on marketing this.

  39. beeronthefridge says: Apr 14, 2012 3:10 PM

    At the rate of elimination rules we are having pretty soon we’ll have a rule to eliminate the nfl.

  40. lumas101 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:11 PM

    As a complete knee-jerk reaction, I think they should have some sort of competition that still allows teams to determine field position. Maybe something along the lines of a default position of the 20 yard line, but a team can attempt an un-contested field goal that would change field position? For example a kicker could attempt a 50 yard field goal to make the other team start at the 15 or a 60 yard field goal for the other team to start at the 10 (remember these would be un-contested) and if the field goal is missed the other team starts at the 30.

    Obviously I hope the kickoff remains but if they ever did eliminate it at least this would maintain the “kicking game” and leave SOME intrigue as to where a team would start each possession.

  41. buckybadger says: Apr 14, 2012 3:11 PM

    They didn’t have it middle school when I was playing but every level afterwards did. I am sometimes surprised that H.S. hasn’t considered it more, maybe some states have for all I know.

    I would be awful to see it go. It is so much part of the game and a play that is guaranteed to bring excitement to every game.

    I actually don’t think they will get rid of it but instead make a bunch of rules that will make the play unbearable. Hey if your at the game you will now have a great time to hit the head after a team scores. Between that and challenges you shouldn’t ever miss a play at the stadium.

  42. sillychrizzy says: Apr 14, 2012 3:12 PM

    why don’t we just have a pillow fight

  43. push4souls says: Apr 14, 2012 3:12 PM

    Oh My God. This would ruin a big part of the game. I cannot believe this idiot is behind this.

    Eliminate the Kickoff??? Seriously, no onside kicks. No Music City Miracle.

    This will never happen. I would rather see players in Inflatable Sumo Suits instead of eliminating such a great part of this historical game.

  44. jasncondit says: Apr 14, 2012 3:13 PM

    If Kickoffs get eliminated then this is no longer the football game I loved. My interest will surely wane. What’s next? Cage helmets for baseball along with full body armor for the batter? Maybe the NFL should die then!

  45. sadoclause says: Apr 14, 2012 3:13 PM

    pillow fight!

  46. dutty15 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:14 PM

    What’s next? Two hand touch…

  47. grogansheroes says: Apr 14, 2012 3:14 PM

    I can see it being flag football first. I men it’s close already.

  48. rickyprosnit says: Apr 14, 2012 3:15 PM

    I hate when people have nothing better to do then look for ways to change things. I understand player safety, but you cant keep taking away from the sport…do this and everything changes…no more big plays from Hester, Cribbs, and Peterson…kick returns are a big part of the game

  49. macbull says: Apr 14, 2012 3:15 PM

    I HOPE NOT…

    Kickoffs are a part of the history of the game and can be some of the most exciting plays of the game.

    This idea that eliminating kickoffs makes the game safer…well hell, just eliminate tackle football and make it flag football.

    Leave “America’s Game” alone…it is fine just the way it is.

  50. giantrealist says: Apr 14, 2012 3:15 PM

    I am all in for player safety. But the owners didn’t care a lick until the ex-players started lining up to sue. So Mr Mara and the others, please don’t pretend that eliminating one of the most exciting situation plays in the game is motivated by compassion. It’s only about money.

  51. jdandcoke says: Apr 14, 2012 3:16 PM

    if they eliminated kickoffs then obviously on-sides kicks would be eliminated as well. i think its a HORRIBLE idea. it takes away WAY too big of a piece of what the game is. seriously…..enough already; its football and guys get hurt.

  52. mrcosio says: Apr 14, 2012 3:16 PM

    I just barfed a little

  53. dcnblue says: Apr 14, 2012 3:16 PM

    Why don’t we just give them scarves for their uniforms and have a new designation of NFFL –National Flag Football League?

  54. uslim2nun says: Apr 14, 2012 3:17 PM

    i wonder if the rosters will be smaller bc there will be no special teamers?

  55. jenniferxxx says: Apr 14, 2012 3:17 PM

    Every rookie contract should include a clause that says you can’t sue the league under any conditions. Sign it … or go get a job.

  56. nghtrder169 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:18 PM

    The real thing that needs to be considered to reduce concussions is the actual material of the helmets… Not eliminating exciting plays like kick-returns.

  57. dasboat says: Apr 14, 2012 3:19 PM

    Reducing the speed limit to 10 MPH will drastically reduce accidents. Eliminating tackling will drastically reduce concussions.

  58. xtb3 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:20 PM

    Mara is right!And do not criticize his knowledge of football. Hisw grand-daddy founded the team and his father also ran this team. He was born a footballl expert. But Maraboy has not gonwe far enough. Lots of injuries are occuring during , passing, running and punting plays. Only way to avoid them is by eliminating use of such plays.

    NFL should be one team trying a FG then the other team doing the same. For 60 minutes and if still tied then in over-fieldgoal kick time too.

    John Mara is proof heredity brings brilliance.

  59. philthyluv says: Apr 14, 2012 3:21 PM

    Miracle at the meadowlands 1 & 2 are two major reasons this guys wants to eliminate kickoffs.

  60. tbtrojan says: Apr 14, 2012 3:24 PM

    Lets just take the football out of football and thus totally eliminate any chance of of injury.
    These are people who are paid a hell of a lot of money to play a game of football so let them play football.
    It’s strange/stupid that as the rewards (salary) for playing in the league improve the risks are disappearing. Soon they will be paying players $40 million a season to just pull faces at each other from each endzone.

  61. possiblecabbage says: Apr 14, 2012 3:24 PM

    The only objection I have to eliminating kickoffs is “we want to keep the onside kick, or an equivalent means to retain possession.”

    If you were to replace the kickoff after a score with, say, fourth and long at the 35 yard line or so, and the team has the opportunity to punt (which is safer) or go for it (which has long odds because it’s fourth and long), that would be just fine. Just set the starting yard-line at whatever would keep the median starting field position the same assuming an average punt and return, and set the distance to convert at long enough that you would have about the same chance of converting as you would for an onside kick.

    To retain the “surprise onside” factor, you could just run a fake punt.

    Personally, I think this is the way that the NFL (and college) football are going.

  62. geauxmez says: Apr 14, 2012 3:26 PM

    Eliminating kickoffs would be so dumb. A lot of great players get their start on special teams. One more reason why we need Goodell OUT!

  63. 52crabcakes says: Apr 14, 2012 3:27 PM

    and they continue to ruin my game of football!

  64. namestim says: Apr 14, 2012 3:28 PM

    Why would this suprise anyone? The entire country has been slowly turning into pansies for the last 4 decades. We’re going to look like France soon enough…

  65. beedubyatoo says: Apr 14, 2012 3:29 PM

    If they take the kick offs away, there likely will be no more 30-40 yard laterals, as a losing team tries to score in the closing seconds.

    If this follows into college, the Stanford band will be safe again.

  66. stairwayto7 says: Apr 14, 2012 3:29 PM

    I said this YEARS AGO and was laughed at! Put ball on 35, then get rid of punters and all kickers and make teams go for it on 4th down and go for 2 pointers after making TDS! Why should a kicker get paid millions for not doing anything until last 15 seconds of the game!

  67. rameyag says: Apr 14, 2012 4:23 PM

    Kickoffs are like jump balls in the NBA. Yes, the traditionalist in my says the rules should not be changed, but it really won’t make that much of a difference.

  68. NationalFlagFootballLeague says: Apr 14, 2012 4:24 PM

    All you wusses out there blasting the Saints …..welcome to the New NFL….The National Flag Football League. Your man King Roger decrees it

  69. brad34815 says: Apr 14, 2012 4:26 PM

    Don’t they make a lot of money to compensate for the risks…… If you don’t want to play football nobody is forcing you to DON’T RUIN THE GAME!!!!!

  70. santolonius says: Apr 14, 2012 4:29 PM

    mara overestimates the league’s ability to bring fans on board for any kooky idea the liability lawyers dream up. it will never happen. it is a bridge too far.

  71. bearsstillsuck says: Apr 14, 2012 4:29 PM

    For all the people complaining about the nfl getting too soft, go get the xfl to start up again. The game has to change, therefore we have to change too. The seventys are over, and those games can be bought on DVD. The game is now more strategic and less violent because it has to be and we have to accept it.

  72. pats1995 says: Apr 14, 2012 4:30 PM

    Strange comparison, but my bio teacher used to be a biochemist, testing drugs in a lab all day. She sometimes tells us that proffessional lab reports are often deemed unjustifiable because there were too many uncontrolled variables, meaning too many things are changed. How can the NFL tell if these changes really work if they refuse to have patience and wait for more than one year before changing them again? Players may have hit differently with these new kickoffs, coaches may have been apprehensive to experiment with kicking short like the Lions did at times and so may play it differently this year. We don’t know for sure. In my opinion instead of changing the game, change the equipment. There is a wealth of minds willing to work on making a safer game if the NFL will be less isolationist and accept the help. I actually recall an ESPN outside the lines episode of a doctor who had made significant findings in the field of concussions with brain research, and the league proceeded to have a scientific congregation about concussions without this man on purpose because of the potential that he may have found something which actually could change the game. This kind of half-hearted effort to show they were “trying” to help the game on concussions when they clearly were not. I’m hoping the league will change this childish attitude if they haven’t already by now.

  73. polishkingski says: Apr 14, 2012 4:32 PM

    i`m all for player safety and surely there are changes that can reduce the # of concussions but the kick-off return for a big gain or td is one of the most exciting plays in pro football. the nfl better think this one over long and hard.

  74. randallflagg52 says: Apr 14, 2012 4:38 PM

    It won’t be long now until a new league is formed and returns football to its roots, eventually replacing the NFL all together.

    Maybe that idiot steeler fan with his steeler football league idea isn’t so far off…

  75. jenniferxxx says: Apr 14, 2012 4:41 PM

    Stop blaming the NFL. It’s the players and their lawyers that are causing this.

  76. thekiddone says: Apr 14, 2012 4:42 PM

    I wonder if Mara would be supporting this idea if Devin Hester played for the Giants?

  77. tv426 says: Apr 14, 2012 4:42 PM

    I have never noticed some big rash of injuries and concussions on STs, especially KOs. Am I somehow missing something?

  78. stevelikesthesteelers says: Apr 14, 2012 4:43 PM

    Punt from the 35 instead of a kickoff. If you elect to go for it, you have to get it past the 50 yard line. The play essentially functions as a 4th and 15. Offense must declare personnel so that defense can match up accordingly. Some system like this would be really fun with a guy like Tebow as the punt protector

  79. koolfootball says: Apr 14, 2012 4:44 PM

    What are the suit wearing non athlete bosses of the nfl thinking???

  80. realdealsteel says: Apr 14, 2012 4:45 PM

    Goodall, Mara and the rest of these idiots are the Anti-Christ of professional football.

    They are going about their business of ruining the game and trying to make football as soft as underwater basket weaving.

  81. bullcharger says: Apr 14, 2012 5:50 PM

    this is a complete sham. What would the roster size be without kick-offs and kick-off coverage? That money savings is what they are after. You absolutely can’t take away kick-offs. It is not the same game without them at all. It’s not football. This current generation of owners and leadership don’t have the right to change the sport like that. They don’t own the sport, they only have a league that plays the sport.

  82. vader7176 says: Apr 14, 2012 5:50 PM

    Here’s what’s going to happen with the game is jr Mara gets his way. Flag football or a controlled scrimmage with all the excitement of a college Spring game. They are so worried about the old timers lawsuit but here’s what will happen. Either out if court settlement or a ruling based on inherent risk. For the past players to claim the league knew the risks is based on concussion research that has only been done in the past 15 years.

  83. bbk1000 says: Apr 14, 2012 5:52 PM

    The NFL is becoming a joke…..the halftime shows make it look like the WWE, now this.

    Mr. Mara was a great owner.

    Dumb Mara, now running the team is not a football guy, never was.

    That said, not sure who I blame more, the greedy owners or the greedy lawyers who are essentially running the league…

  84. stevie59 says: Apr 14, 2012 5:52 PM

    Mara go away now!

  85. hoopjack says: Apr 14, 2012 5:54 PM

    Say what you will about Jerry and Danny but at least they’re not trying to ruin the game.
    What’s gonna happen the next time the Giants miss a game winning field goal? Is Mara going to introduce the best out of 3 rule, then the best out of 5, best out of 7……

  86. jaggedmark says: Apr 14, 2012 6:03 PM

    I’ve got it. Stop playing the game completely. That will end the injuries.

  87. northsidesteel says: Apr 14, 2012 6:04 PM

    Mara is right, it is the course the NFL is on. Special Team players are the young guys still trying to learn the defense, or awaiting the next wide receiver slot. They have a limited amount of 6 second spurts to prove the coaching staff what they can do and why they merit a roster position. This is why they are so eager to put themselves, and their opponents at such a risk. While the loss of kick-offs is a foregone conclusion, I don’t see how they can eliminate punts with any creditability. Additionally, do roster spots disappear? The kickoff situation is a done deal, but I can’t see the punt going away.

  88. calvikefan1 says: Apr 14, 2012 6:07 PM

    Here is what to do. For the kick-off, you have the old electric football game upstairs ( in the booth ). You line the players up accordingly. The ref upstairs ( a new position ) kicks the cotton football to the opposing team, hit the switch and see where the kick returner takes it. You then relay that play down to the field and spot the ball. During this process it’s viewed on the big screen so everyone can see it. No body gets hurt and the actual kick returner ( say Devin Hester ) gets credit for the return as would the player making the tackle. No ? Okay let me take another puff and I’ll think of something else. You take these little yellow ribbons called flags and tie them to the players waists then you ………………………………

  89. craigmaitland says: Apr 14, 2012 6:08 PM

    Final min could be automatic clock stoppage between plays regardless of in bounds or not.

  90. guestsinger says: Apr 14, 2012 6:18 PM

    Bunch of nonsense- I want to see the following summarized:

    What percentage of concussions are the result of kick offs?

    What percentage of NFL players have DOCUMENTABLE by third party professionals, long term issues from concussions.

    And here is the most important one. What percentage of those 1200 who have sued are willing to take a lie detector test that they never took performance enhancing drugs? This of course would mean the willingly put their health at risk beyond even normal play.

    What did Shakespeare say about lawyers again?

  91. 4oledc says: Apr 14, 2012 6:21 PM

    Now the league only has to eliminate WR’s crossing routes and we are done…

  92. vikingsinla says: Apr 14, 2012 6:22 PM

    Any rule that hastens Devin Hester’s career manning the french fry station at the local McDonald’s is just fine in my book.

  93. markwmeier says: Apr 14, 2012 6:22 PM

    So many people just accepting this.

    How is life as a sheep?

  94. ham1 says: Apr 14, 2012 6:22 PM

    Kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

    Fools

  95. jetnotjets says: Apr 14, 2012 6:27 PM

    All you have to do to keep the game intact as the players and fans want it, is to have the players sign a waiver. If you have to sign a waiver to go bungee jumping or hop out of a plane, then you should surely have to sign one to run an 8 yard slant against the Ravens.

    Game saved.

  96. norrinradd12 says: Apr 14, 2012 6:36 PM

    Kickoffs are kamikaze missions that have little to no impact on the game. Players are getting bigger and faster and guys are breaking their necks. If they don’t get rid of them it’s just a matter of time before someone dies on the field covering a kickoff.

  97. bangitfootball says: Apr 14, 2012 6:36 PM

    STOP RUINING FOOTBALL YOU IDIOTS

  98. murfdeezy says: Apr 14, 2012 6:45 PM

    I agree that they are evolving toward unwatchable. It’s getting way ridiculous now. Safer equipment is an easy decision. These are PR moves to make it look like they give a crap about players…and the players should stop crying in civil court too. You play a rough and tough game of opposition domination on a battlefield called the gridiron. Stop crying. That is why the least talented player in your league still makes twice as much as most very good surgeons. Grow up. There is risk, and you accept it when you cash the check. There are plenty of men and women at risk in Iraq and Afghanistan taking on a lot more risk for what you spend on sneakers and jerseys in a month…and they aren’t crying or suing anyone.

    Leave the game alone. If the players are scared to get hurt….go find another job. That’s life. If you keep watering down a national pastime…there simply won’t be enough flavor left to make it tolerable. Not to mention that is how some very high character, high work ethic players make a team and work their way into more playing time or build careers there….but screw them right? Who cares about the nice, modest, hard working football players…let’s find more overpaid cry babies and keep changing the rules to make it less likely that anyone will get tackled, touched, injured, or even hurt feelings….T.O. Why don’t we just remove the defense from the field too…and we can just have an offensive shootout posting triple overtime NBA scores every Sunday…that sounds exciting…oh yeah…but 19 Sundays…not 17…because it’s safer….wait…huh??

    The NFL was a sacred pastime before the rule raping Roger era. He is the beginning of the end. So sad…really, really sad.

  99. hboc01 says: Apr 14, 2012 6:52 PM

    Alex Karras, Mark Rypien, Michael Myers, Dave Duerson, Tony Dorsett, Mark Duper…these are the people responsible for the dismantling of the game as we know it. It’s a sad fact, but what else is the NFL supposed to do to protect themselves from lawsuits that WILL be filed by the same men we are watching now?

  100. corvusrex96 says: Apr 14, 2012 6:59 PM

    Ironicly the best way to cut down on concussions would be to eliminate kevlar quality shoulder pads and face masks and go back to leather helmets.

    These two pieces of protective equipment allow players to launch themselves and deliver harder hits b/c they are less likley to hurt themselves while doing it.

    Pretty much explains why you do not have such a concussion issue in rugby and Aussie rules football.

  101. jcusa514 says: Apr 14, 2012 7:13 PM

    if todd heap does not get hit that hard against the patriots back in 2010, this would never even be a discussion point. concussions, what?

  102. canuck54143 says: Apr 14, 2012 7:17 PM

    If that ever happens you can say good bye to being the most popular sport in America. once you try to take all the Contact out of the game the NFL no longer matters too me. Thats like taken the pitcher out of baseball, or eliminating offsides in hockey. Keep the game how it is!!!

  103. gcsuk says: Apr 14, 2012 7:36 PM

    Might as well just put all the stats in a computer and decide the winners that way. Or maybe a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” instead.

  104. stew48 says: Apr 14, 2012 8:06 PM

    Maybe goodle needs to contact OSHA for advice.

  105. nygrwy says: Apr 14, 2012 8:32 PM

    Its a win lose situation. You leave it alone and you keep paying out large sums of money from players who have had concussions. You change it you will cut down on the law suits.

  106. bc01red says: Apr 14, 2012 8:52 PM

    Everyone’s just trying to protect themselves from this sue happy world we live in. Its sad that it is interfering with excitement of the game. No kickoffs, that sucks!

  107. autumnwind999 says: Apr 14, 2012 8:57 PM

    Leagues that crop up to compete with the NFL have always been doomed to fail. XFL, UFL,USFL and on and on never had a chance and quickly tanked.

    But mark my words: The continued wussification of the NFL and heaping on piles of rules and alterations that fundamentally alter the essence of the game will leave an opening for a rival league to come in and challenge the NFL by marketing itself as the league that plays true football and not the gimmicked-up, watered-down mess that the NFL is quickly becoming.

  108. briang123 says: Apr 14, 2012 8:58 PM

    I am surprised how many people believe that eliminating kickoffs would somehow shorten commercial breaks. Tackling will be eliminated from the game before they will.

  109. tonyromoisterrible says: Apr 14, 2012 9:03 PM

    John Mara, the spoiled rich kid who took over his daddy’s franchise is a complete blow hard. the way the Giants won the super bowl this year was based off of kickoffs. If not for the two fumbles the Giants would have lost to the 49ers. Mara, go be involved in your daughters acting career and let the men worry about football. Step aside brat.

  110. trapshoot says: Apr 14, 2012 9:05 PM

    Lawyers will ruin this sport like they have many other things with their creative greed. maybe they should disband the league completely and go to a Wii or XBox game.

  111. countyk66ers says: Apr 14, 2012 9:13 PM

    Troy Aikman is right, get rid of the pads and helmets. No more tackling with the head bigger reduction in concussions than dropping the kickoff. Football will be played the way it should be.

  112. petedutcher says: Apr 14, 2012 9:37 PM

    This is the result of so many lawsuits.

    Another option is allow kickoffs but not returns. Touchbacks come out to thirty-five, only fair catches permitted other wise.

    I hate the thought of completely removing kickoffs.

    Honestly…I’m going to find it had to watch the games without a kickoff.

    And think about it…punts will be next. And what about players added only for special teams? If there are only field goals, then all you need is a place kicker. The regular guys can block.

    This would result in fewer college players getting opportunities. Will they then lower the roster limit???

  113. profootballrocks says: Apr 14, 2012 9:42 PM

    Rugby. I think I’ll start following rugby…

  114. bu54cb says: Apr 14, 2012 10:19 PM

    First kickoffs, then punt renturns, then tackling, why not just stop playing football altogether.

    I suppose Mara is on the Goodell bandwagon, saying the fans are asking for this.

  115. diehardraidersfan says: Apr 14, 2012 10:27 PM

    The NFL is in its Twilight. Its death may happen slowly but its coming none the less.

    The lawsuits having nothing to do with injury and everything to do with greed. The players who made the game great will also be its downfall.

    Never thought the game would be destroyed from within but its happening. Very sad.

  116. rg3isvictory says: Apr 14, 2012 11:48 PM

    Can someone give this guy some Scotch and a line of Coke so he’ll go away!!’

  117. neworleanscheaters says: Apr 14, 2012 11:50 PM

    Who are you guys kidding? If and when they do implement this, all you rubes will continue watching and lining their pockets regardless of the bluster you spew now about it. The NFL knows it and you know it.

  118. gards81 says: Apr 15, 2012 12:47 AM

    In other news the NFL turns to 2 hand touch

  119. sadnfl says: Apr 15, 2012 12:59 AM

    This game is for the publics entertainment. Thats why they get paid millions. If I want to see players trotting around a field I would my nephews little league game. Spend more time on healing them after they put themselves in danger, instead of protecting a willing participant in a violent sport.

  120. reach4succeed says: Apr 15, 2012 1:37 AM

    News flash- The NFL evolving toward eliminating John Mara completely.

  121. bpfpft says: Apr 15, 2012 1:38 AM

    This is old news. From April 2011, after change was made to move kickoff to 35, Belichick who opposed the move said he believes the decision ultimately was made to eliminate kickoff returns. But the league maintains it was made in the interest of player safety.
    “That’s what they told us,’’ Belichick said. “I’m not speaking for anybody else. That’s what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play.’’

  122. db105 says: Apr 15, 2012 1:43 AM

    Hopefully this will force me to do something else on Sundays.

  123. bpfpft says: Apr 15, 2012 1:46 AM

    Mike Florio, you wrote about this last April: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/08/16/belichick-says-league-wants-to-eliminate-kickoffs/

  124. slickzmoney says: Apr 15, 2012 1:54 AM

    @autumwind999 Don’t forget about the merger. The AFL proved the NFL could be challenged. And your right, it will happen again if the NFL overestimates its importance and continues to “evolve”.

  125. maximusprime107 says: Apr 15, 2012 1:57 AM

    If that happens, so, so many players are out of jobs

  126. redstar504 says: Apr 15, 2012 2:28 AM

    Here is the best option lets start ridding America of its overpopulation of lawyers.

    We have way too many lawyers out there trying to scheme up bigger and better class-action lawsuits in order to get rich quick. What is happening in the NFL is just an outgrowth of what is going on American society as a whole.

    Think about it prescription medication X is released on a Monday and by Friday there is a commercial on TV telling you if you took prescription X call this number. Now we have if you ever played in the NFL call this number and help me get paid.

    Playing in the NFL has risk, taking Tylenol has risk, everything has risk but in this country we do things by choice. No one forces people to play in the NFL it is a choice that carries inherent risks.

    Again the problem is we have way too many lawyers out there trying to scheme up a way to find the next big tobacco class-action.

    It is time to start culling the lawyer population!!!

  127. gator2006 says: Apr 15, 2012 2:28 AM

    Now that the concussion risks are publicly known and players are assuming these risks, what would players have a ground to sue on in the future?

  128. whodatgirl1 says: Apr 15, 2012 2:32 AM

    The NFL and its dictator Godell need to understand that the reason that people watch football is for the violence. When people see culturally, socially acceptable forms of violence the adrenalin, serotonin, and dopamine rise = satisfaction and an emotion response. Has anybody on this website ever enjoyed ripping the days off their calanders? Soon the ripping is going to be flags coming off the players’ belts. But, that may cause someone to break a nail and file a suit.

  129. profootballrocks says: Apr 15, 2012 2:37 AM

    Is it my imagination or is the Lingerie League now tougher than the NFL?

  130. snikerbotloot says: Apr 15, 2012 3:18 AM

    NFL Players get paid for the risks. Kickoffs can change the course of a game. Stop messing with the game I grew up loving to watch

  131. djcrabby8 says: Apr 15, 2012 4:25 AM

    Oh yeah. We gotta do the whole kicking game. I mean punts aren’t much different. Can those as well. Field goals. Also dangerous. Actually any chance for a Hugh speed collision. Probably should get rid of passing routes over 20 yards or in the middle of the field. Wtf NFL. I will cover a kickoff for $1,000,000/yr. Concussion included.

  132. djcrabby8 says: Apr 15, 2012 4:27 AM

    High*. Damn auto correct

  133. johnnyb216 says: Apr 15, 2012 4:40 AM

    I can see it now. Instead of “kickoff at 12:00″ it’ll be “everybody starts playing each other at 12:00.”

  134. johnnyb216 says: Apr 15, 2012 4:44 AM

    Can’t this just be as simple as having the players sign a waiver saying that they understand the risks of playing football and the NFL is not liable for any concussions that may or may not occur to the player?

  135. kronix7 says: Apr 15, 2012 4:51 AM

    The game will be ridiculous without kick offs!! Thanks N.O. I agree with the comment that soon the game will be played on madden. Unbelievable.

  136. norcalirish says: Apr 15, 2012 5:18 AM

    tfbuckfutter: ROFL! Classic post

  137. alonestartexan says: Apr 15, 2012 6:08 AM

    I already find myself caring less and less for the NFL every season, When I was a kid, I’d watch every game that was on TV, Then, I’d only watch teams I cared enough about to see, Two years ago, I watched every Texans and Cowboys game, this past season, I watched every Texans game and only a handful of Cowboys games.. Who knows what’ll happen this year.

    I’ve only watched 3 Super Bowls in the 2000′s, Titans/Rams, Bucs/Raiders, and Saints/Colts.

    I’ve already vowed to never watch another game if the NFL puts a team in Europe.

    I wonder if the NFLPA will have a problem with league eliminating 32 jobs from the league ?

  138. hodag54501 says: Apr 15, 2012 7:31 AM

    The NBA has already(almost) done something equivalent in pro basketball: nearly eliminating the jump ball. When tall people in the early years of basketball were 6 feet tall, a jump ball was the way to determine possession. When people 7 feet tall became a part of the game a jump ball became silly.

    The kickoff that is returned rarely evolves into a scoring play for the receiving team. You don’t have to be a math genius to see that. It CAN change field position, but the wide majority of kickoffs usually end up….around the 20 yard line.(unless a touchback).

    Something simple for a change: when it’s time to change possession, put the ball on the 20 and off you go. Like the NBA found with jump balls, not having kickoffs will also speed up the game, something the NFL really needs to do.

  139. ashevillechief says: Apr 15, 2012 7:46 AM

    It’s called the ‘Competition Committee’, not the ‘Safety Committee’. Maybe they should change their name?

  140. danimal1027 says: Apr 15, 2012 7:55 AM

    On average how many kickoffs are there a game? Moving the kickoff up eliminates what 60% of returns? Spread that over a year and ya eliminating that Many plays from a season of course is gonna reduce the number of concussions. Eliminating that same number of snap plays would have the same effect. What’s next switching to 3 downs? That would ultimately have the same result. this game is about field position and kickoffs r a big part of that. This is getting out of hand.

  141. Patriot42 says: Apr 15, 2012 8:30 AM

    I see the NFL racing to its demise as wrestling has done. It will reduce all chances of injuries by changing the game to a point where lawyers will have no clients to serve.

  142. melikefootball says: Apr 15, 2012 8:33 AM

    If they are going to take a third of the game away than lets see tickets drop one third. Popcorn, hot dogs and beer a third.

  143. tombrookshire says: Apr 15, 2012 8:35 AM

    Lets get rid of those dangerous punt returns, too. While you’re at it, elimate blocking and tackling. Then, just handoffs, no more passing to reduce receiver concussions. Once all the hitting is removed from the game, they won’t need the helmets and pads either, saving the owners more money and lowering insurance and medical costs. The NHL was able to successfully address the violence in hockey without ruining the game. Why can’t the NFL do it carefully without over-reacting out of fear of losing money? You cannot change or eliminate the fundamentals of the game and retain fan interest. Kickoff returns do not have to be full on 25 mph collisions. You don’t have to eliminate the play itself to eliminate the extreme violence of it. Just execute the play the way it used to be before guys started using the equipment to blow up opponents.

  144. rho1953 says: Apr 15, 2012 9:14 AM

    Football could survive without kickoffs, most players hate them and are afraid of them. The full speed collisions with players coming straight at you are horrific. You have to face the fact that players are so much bigger and faster now than ever before but their ligaments and brains are not any more resistant to injury. We could lose the game of football if we don’t take action to change the dynamic on head and joint injuries.

  145. icewalker946 says: Apr 15, 2012 1:09 PM

    theblondbomber says:
    Apr 14, 2012 2:48 PM
    If they actually ever go through with this, I vow to publicly light my self on fire in protest. This is that serious people.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I’ll remember you and keep people away from your flaming body when this does happen.

    Oh, wait. You will NEVER light yourself on fire, you faceless idiot.

    I usually avoid calling people names on the internet because it solves nothing and also you could call me a faceless idiot as well. How about this….when you are ready to take a gas bath and find your Zippo lighter, e-mail me at brettfavrestinks@ymail.com I wanna watch.

    Yeah, I know crappy e-mail address but I was upset with Favre after he signed with the Vikings. I still use it for fantasy football and other things.

    There. Now you will have an audience when you light your fire.

  146. profootballrocks says: Apr 15, 2012 2:34 PM

    Did you know that in rugby there’s no offensive blocking?

    You find the rugby ball in your hands–you’re on your own, bitch.

    Now that’s a rule…

    Other interesting (read:non-wussified NFL “Let’s-Do-Everything-We-Can-To-Get-18-Game-Revenue”) league rules:

    Canadian Rules Football…no fair catch (is that still the case?)…

    And, yes, just about every Lingerie League rule…actually I have no idea what their league rules are, but I’m sure that whatever they are, they’re tougher than the NFL now.

  147. marcg1957 says: Apr 15, 2012 5:00 PM

    Borrrrringgggh!!!! Soon it will be the National FLAG Football instead the National Football League. What will be next…. Widening the field so that the players have more room to manouver so they’ll be less chances of injury? The QB will be wearing a flag so defences will try to grab instead of tacking the QB? NFL please leave the game “as it is” or you’ll lose fans.

  148. toolkien says: Apr 15, 2012 8:25 PM

    Here is the NFL as it is TODAY.

    A mediocre team (2011 Giants, 2008 Cardinals, 2007 Giants) can, or almost can, win it all. The team that wins the Super Bowl is the team that wins the turnover margin in the playoffs, regardless of how they did in the regular season. 8 4-team divisions guarantee mediocre teams make it, who, with all the other mediocritization of the NFL, can win the turnover margin. So, right now, there is very little connection between the regular season and the post season.

    On top of that, all the rules defanging the defense have turned the regular season into human pinball. Ten QB’s passed for over 4,000 yards, 4 passed for over 5,000 yards. It is nearly Arena League caliber.

    Much of following football is watching a bunch of billionaires and ‘roided up millionaires fight over 4 Billion dollars, some of it sales tax money taken from the taxpayers. We get treated to off-season melodramas and so much of the modern game is following contracts and negotiations.

    A whole bunch of ex-players are suing for further compensation due to the danger they put themselves in. This will further change the nature of what we watch.

    And now some other changes coming soon. There will be even MORE berths of mediocre teams into the playoffs. More and more rules will be put in making the game “safer”. Defenses will become pointless. There will be more and more suits by ex-players. There will be a complete disconnect between the regular season and the post season once the reset button is pushed and 16 slightly different mediocre teams who can’t hit each other vie to win the turnover margin and get a “championship”.

    I barely want to watch the NFL as it is now. I shudder how things are going to be in 5 short years. A pointless 20 game exhibition season where QB’s who can’t be hit play pitch and catch with WR’s who can’t be hit. Then a 4 game tournament that has half the league play in a new mini-season where anything can happen – except a tackle.

    The NFL once meant something as teams of men tested their endurance and skill against each, wherein the best rose to the top, and a tournament of the best of the best settled who was the best. Whether you liked or hated the Super Bowl champion, you knew in your heart they were a worthy champion. Now it’s whichever mediocre team wins the turnover margin in a mini-season and it’s only going to get worse very shortly.

  149. jimmeey says: Apr 15, 2012 11:17 PM

    Kickoffs have been a big part of football for a long time. Why mess with tradition? Players can get hurt on any type of play. Get real!

  150. couldntthinkofaname says: Apr 16, 2012 12:36 AM

    stairwayto7 says:
    Apr 14, 2012 3:29 PM

    I said this YEARS AGO and was laughed at! Put ball on 35, then get rid of punters and all kickers and make teams go for it on 4th down and go for 2 pointers after making TDS! Why should a kicker get paid millions for not doing anything until last 15 seconds of the game!
    ___________________

    You’re still being laughed at.

  151. bangitfootball says: Apr 16, 2012 1:53 PM

    Sad to see a bunch of self absorbed suits ( Roger) and lawyers steadily destroy our great game.

    Once they turned the keys over to Goodell it was like turning the hen house over to the fox. Nothing but political correct bs, fines, memos, rule changes, more memos and the wussying of a great game.

  152. Wolfgang Depner says: Apr 16, 2012 1:56 PM

    Why are some posters on this site so fervently opposed to league-wide parity? It is in part one of the reasons why the NFL is the sporting giant per se. Permitting a few teams to dominate competition harbours the potential of more blow-outs and less interest in the games.

    Why are some posters opposed to the sport evolving? The game which unfolds on the field today bears increasingly less resemblance to the game played 30 years, whereas the game played in 1970s looks nothing like the game played 30 years earlier and so on. Cultures (and the sports which they produce) evolve. Better get used to it or out of the way.

    Why are some posters so myopic about the real human tragedy past incarnations of the sports has caused? It is easy to claim from the sidelines that one would willingly covers kicks for $1 million, knowing that one could suffer serious health effects. Well, given the medical knowledge that exists today and will continue to emerge, I would be very hesitant to enter such a bargain. My life is worth more than a fleeting shot at supposed glory in exchange for a life time of hurt and pain.

  153. bpfpft says: Apr 16, 2012 3:20 PM

    I’m not where I stand on this topic, I do know that football has a history of evolving and that’s what’s kept it as the top sport in this country for some time now. It would make sense to me that more serious injuries occur and do so more frequently on kickoffs. It’s obvious that serious injury rates & concussions are higher on plays where the acceleration portion of the mass x acceleration formula was greatly increased.

    From a 2007 Columbus, OH high school football study:

    Competition injuries are more severe during
    kickoff/punt….

    •32.7% of injuries on kickoffs and punts were “severe” (defined as 21 or more missed days), compared to 19.3% on other plays.

    •20.3% of injuries on kickoffs and punts were concussions, compared to 10.9% on other plays.

    High School is much different from the pros and technique and practice time probably has something with the above data but the NFL’s study probably shows similar results I’m assuming that’s why they’re headed this way.

  154. bpfpft says: Apr 16, 2012 3:31 PM

    The game is constantly evolving, change is good in some cases, some examples below:

    1876
    At the Massasoit convention, the first rules for American football were written. Walter Camp, who would become known as the father of American football, first became involved with the game.

    1898
    A touchdown was changed from four points to five.

    1904
    A field goal was changed from five points to four.

    1906
    The forward pass was legalized. The first authenticated pass completion in a pro game came on October 27, when George (Peggy) Parratt of Massillon threw a completion to Dan (Bullet) Riley in a victory over a combined Benwood-Moundsville team.

    1909
    A field goal dropped from four points to three.

    1912
    A touchdown was increased from five points to six.

    1933
    The NFL, which long had followed the rules of college football, made a number of significant changes from the college game for the first time and began to develop rules serving its needs and the style of play it preferred. The innovations from the 1932 championship game-inbounds line or hashmarks and goal posts on the goal lines-were adopted. Also the forward pass was legalized from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage.

    …..

    1972
    The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved nearer the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines.

    The method of determining won-lost percentage in standings changed. Tie games, previously not counted in the standings, were made equal to a half-game won and a half-game lost.

    1973
    A jersey numbering system was adopted, April 5: 1-19 for quarterbacks and specialists, 20-49 for running backs and defensive backs, 50-59 for centers and linebackers, 60-79 for defensive linemen and interior offensive linemen other than centers, and 80-89 for wide receivers and tight ends. Players who had been in the NFL in 1972 could continue to use old numbers.

    1974
    Sweeping rules changes were adopted to add action and tempo to games: one sudden-death overtime period was added for preseason and regular-season games; the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines; kickoffs were moved from the 40- to the 35-yard line; after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage; restrictions were placed on members of the punting team to open up return possibilities; roll-blocking and cutting of wide receivers was eliminated; the extent of downfield contact a defender could have with an eligible receiver was restricted; the penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of the hands, and tripping were reduced from 15 to 10 yards; wide receivers blocking back toward the ball within three yards of the line of scrimmage were prevented from blocking below the waist.

    1976
    Owners adopted the use of two 30-second clocks for all games, visible to both players and fans to note the official time between the ready-for-play signal and snap of the ball.

    1977
    A 16-game regular season, 4-game preseason was adopted to begin in 1978.

    A second wild-card team was adopted for the playoffs beginning in 1978, with the wild-card teams to play each other and the winners advancing to a round of eight postseason series.

    Rule changes were adopted to open up the passing game and to cut down on injuries.

    Defenders were permitted to make contact with eligible receivers only once; the head slap was outlawed; offensive linemen were prohibited from thrusting their hands to an opponent’s neck, face, or head; and wide receivers were prohibited from clipping, even in the legal clipping zone.

    1978
    The NFL continued a trend toward opening up the game. Rules changes permitted a defender to maintain contact with a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but restricted contact beyond that point. The pass-blocking rule was interpreted to permit the extending of arms and open hands.

    1979
    NFL rules changes emphasized additional player safety. The changes prohibited players on the receiving team from blocking below the waist during kickoffs, punts, and field-goal attempts; prohibited the wearing of torn or altered equipment and exposed pads that could be hazardous; extended the zone in which there could be no crackback blocks; and instructed officials to quickly whistle a play dead when a quarterback was clearly in the grasp of a tackler.

    1980
    Rules changes placed greater restrictions on contact in the area of the head, neck, and face.

    Under the heading of “personal foul,” players were prohibited from directly striking, swinging, or clubbing on the head, neck, or face. Starting in 1980, a penalty could be called for such contact whether or not the initial contact was made below the neck area.

    1988
    At the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, a 45-second clock was also approved to replace the 30-second clock. For a normal sequence of plays, the interval between plays was changed to 45 seconds from the time the ball is signaled dead until it is snapped on the succeeding play.

    ….

  155. bpfpft says: Apr 16, 2012 4:52 PM

    Current Bucs and former Rutgers HC idea (Greg Schiano):

    Replace all kickoffs with a punting situation, including after the opening coin toss and to start the second half. So, as an example, when Team A scores a touchdown, it immediately gets the ball back on a fourth and 15 from its own 30-yard line.

    It can punt it back to Team B — the most likely outcome and a safer play since the bigger collisions usually happen on kickoffs.

    Or it can line up and go for the first down, essentially replacing an onside kick with an offensive play that would require more skill than luck.

  156. wjchucklebutt says: Apr 16, 2012 8:58 PM

    stairwayto7: “get rid of punters and all kickers”

    Better think of a new name for the sport, then. “Football” without feet ever touching the ball is idiotic.

  157. wjchucklebutt says: Apr 16, 2012 9:00 PM

    And for the “Kickers get paid millions for 5 plays a game!” people – IT’S ABOUT STRATEGY.

    You probably think knights don’t belong in chess either: “It moves in an L shape! That’s stupid – just exchange that horsey thing for a pawn.”

  158. cdl2415 says: Apr 17, 2012 5:34 AM

    So if they get rid of kickoffs, then how would they compensate for no onside kicks?

  159. bigbluewreckincrew says: Apr 17, 2012 4:13 PM

    To all the Cowgirl fans trolling on these boards – you should be happy if they eliminate kickoffs that way when Jerry & his sons are on the sidelines undermining the coaching staff during a week 3 game down a touchdown , they will be safer.

  160. londonfletcher says: Apr 18, 2012 10:45 AM

    Anyone ever think that concussions “dropped” because players don’t report being hurt because they don’t want to miss 4-5 games due to “concussion like” symptoms??

  161. bcgreg says: Apr 18, 2012 11:38 AM

    Stop it. Will you please?! Just stop it.

    Then, what? Punts will be gone?

    Then what? Every change of possession starts at the 20?

    Then what? Blitzing not allowed.

    Just stop. You’ve eliminated the wedge on kickoffs. You’ve eliminated crack backs. You can’t touch the QB. You can’t separate a receiver from the ball anymore. You gotta stop. You’re ruining the game.

    Of course concussions were down on kickoffs. There were less returns. The figure you have to look at is the percentage of concussions that occurred on actual returns. If that number is significantly down, then you have an argument. Without knowing those figures, I’d guess that it remained the same.

    How about we replace the coin toss with rock paper scissors because the coin might hit someone in the eye?

  162. mrpilsner says: Apr 20, 2012 7:41 PM

    anybody think moving the kick off CLOSER to midfield might be worth a peek?? The behemoths will be closer to each other, engaging without all that velocity…. make the rule include kickoffs landing IN the field of play…. might/probably create more kick of returns for TDs in addition to cutting down on concussion causing collisions, crack back blocks…. I already see MORE onside kicks and better field position…. what say you???

  163. dougt51 says: May 4, 2012 4:20 PM

    How about this: The scoring team is the one who gets the ball back at their own 40, but they face a 4th and 15. So usually, they will choose to punt (which is a far safer and I think more interesting play anyway). Late in the game, strategy might dictate that they go for it. Or occasionally, the team may run a fake punt on their own.

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