On Thursday, TIME disclosed that Commissioner Roger Goodell has mentioned a possible replacement for kickoffs that would give the team that otherwise would be kicking off possession of the ball at its own 30 yard line, with a down-and-distance of fourth and 15. Goodell said the idea came from Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano.
On Friday, Schiano talked about the idea in a session with the media.
“That happened before I was head coach of the Bucs,” Schiano said, via PewterReport.com. “It happened when I was still at Rutgers. I was with Commissioner Goodell and we were talking about it. He expressed his concern about the health of the players in relation to the kickoff play. Certainly with my experience with Eric LeGrand I had similar feelings.”
LeGrand, a former Rutgers (and, technically, Buccaneers) player, suffered paralysis as a result of a neck injury during a kickoff return.
“This is just something that I dreamed up and as I said to [Goodell] I am not sure that all the details are there,” Schiano added. “You got to find the percentage. I think the percentage of an onside kick is about 15 percent. So you want to make sure that whatever that fourth-and-blank is, it is about 15 percent over a bunch of years. And that would be the ideal amount of yardage needed. So at least you have an onside kind of equivalent percentage wise. I think you can have a lot of exciting stuff. You open the game with a blocked punt or you open a game with – who knows what could happen, right?”
The idea still has a long way to go before it becomes a rule. Still, the fact that the Competition Committee will be exploring the elimination of kickoff in the offseason coupled with the reality that, as we’ve been told, there currently are no other ideas for eliminating the kickoff while preserving the ability to retain possession via a simulated onside kick means that Schiano’s idea is the clubhouse leader.
“I understand traditionalists don’t agree, but there used to not be the forward pass too,” Schiano said. “The game would be pretty boring without it. I am not saying it is right or wrong. I am just saying you got to be able to think outside and whatever is best for the players. At the end of the day, these guys are the ones that are putting it on the line. It is not the coaches. It is none of us. It is the players that bodies go; it is a violent game and that’s one of the things I love about it is the physical part of it. There are areas that are more susceptible to injury.
“One of the things that when I was researching I think it was like in the kickoff rules 17 percent of the catastrophic in juries happened on kickoffs. Yet it is only about six percent of the plays in the game. Well that’s disproportionate right? Things like that are reasons that led me to that, but obviously it is a personal thing with me because of Eric LeGrand.”
At first, I didn’t like the idea, because of the natural human resistance to change. I’ve since become fascinated with it.
Plenty of you have yet to share my fascination. Keep making your views known in the comments, and in the poll.