John Mara: NFL “could very well” eliminate the kickoff

AP

In 2012, Giants co-owner and NFL competition committee member John Mara said that the league was “evolving” toward the elimination of the kickoff.

Player safety was the concern at the time and it has remained a frequent talking point around changes to the way the NFL game is played, but the kickoff has remained part of the game. The latest bit of evolution is the rule moving the ball to the 25-yard-line after touchbacks that was approved on a one-year basis for the 2016 season, something Mara says that the committee felt they’d “at least try” before delving deeper into discussions about the end of kickoffs.

“We’re not at the point where we want to take the kickoff out of the game completely, although we may be moving in that direction,” Mara said, via the team’s website. “One of the concerns is what do you do in a situation where you’ve scored late in the game and you’re down by less than a touchdown, and it takes away the onside kick. As I say, you could very well see the kickoff eliminated at some point in time in the future, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet. It still does remain an exciting play, but it’s also a dangerous play. Obviously concussions are on the top of our list in terms of our concerns for the game going forward.”

Losing the onside kick would be a significant change to the way the NFL game is played, both as a way to facilitate a comeback in the final minutes and as a surprise designed to change momentum earlier in games. That’s one of many things that the league would have to sort out if the league wants to continue down that road.

92 responses to “John Mara: NFL “could very well” eliminate the kickoff

  1. Yes, great idea! Lets also eliminate defense to avoid big time collisions. And offense to avoid broken ankles. That way we can just let the officials decide the game…oh…wait?

  2. Why are these these greedy money grubbing self absorbed yahoos aka NFL owners owners constantly messing with this game????
    Does the Gang of 32 realize if they ALL fell off the face of the earth tomorrow the game would go on just fine without them and its’ fans wouldn’t even notice they’re gone.

  3. Just how I like to start my day – listening to Mara run his blabbermouth. Let’s just eliminate the entire game while we’re at it.

  4. I hope the my also start calling Helmet to Helmet fouls when linemen hit each other in the head too. Perhaps allow replay to determine who initiates the H-H contact to ensure the correct call is made.

    I don’t think I have ever liked any article on this site that begins with “Mara: …”

    I think him and his Pittsburgh/New York mutant daughter Rooney should just go away already.

  5. One day you’ll be telling your grandkids about a game from back in the day they used to call football.

  6. Sometimes we can complicate such simple things. If you want to eliminate the kickoff and retain the onsides kick, allow each team one onsides kick per game. It would be up to the team when they want to use it.

    Would Sean Payton have used it to open the second half of the Super Bowl? Or, would he have kept the option of the onsides kick in play in case it was needed at the end of the game?

    I can think of several other scenarios where it would become a strategy of when to use the onsides kick or keep it in your back pocket.

    Just one more thing a coach can be criticized for by us MMQBs. Another thing to be debated among fans and the talking media heads the day after a game.

  7. If you eliminate the kickoff, you help take the ‘foot’ out of football…

    Let’s keep the foot in football…

    Signed,
    Rex

  8. “It still does remain an exciting play, but it’s also a dangerous play. Obviously concussions are on the top of our list in terms of our concerns for the game going forward.”
    ——————————

    nice phraseology – Once again we have an article about the danger of the kickoff where ownership opines the danger and the media doesn’t practice its due diligence by citing statistics.

    I don’t know if the kickoff is any more dangerous than any other play – my feeling is it isn’t- and this is just one of those things the NFL does to LOOK like it’s being proactive.

  9. It’s too bad it’s going that way, but most of the replies will only be hate spewed for John Mara by middle-america hicks who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the greatest city of New York.

  10. Or you could eliminate knockoffs but keep onside kicks. It would kill the element of surprise but at least you could still give yourself a chance to win at the end.

  11. Or you could eliminate kickoffs but keep onside kicks. It would kill the element of surprise but at least you could still give yourself a chance to win at the end.

  12. STANDING START ! Why do you let the gunners on the kickoff team get a running start? They need to do a standing start from the point of the kickoff. That would slow the speed and momentum they could get… yes you might have more returns to the 25 – 30 yard line, but who cares?
    I predict by 2020, the way things are going, players will be wearing evening gowns.

  13. It still does remain an exciting play, but it’s also a dangerous play.
    ________________________________________

    And tackling…tackling is an exciting part of the game but it’s also a dangerous part of the game. Maybe we should eliminate that, too.

  14. Sure, why keep one of the most exciting and potentially momentum creating plays in the sport when we could replace it with a longer post coin toss commercial break.

  15. The NFL has leaped the shark.. Face it….the contest on field is essentially irrelevant. A few minutes of action sprinkled inside over 100 commercial opportunities. Its incredible America chooses to spend their off day from work indoors watching hours of commercials.

  16. It will come to a point to where figure skating and/or golf will be more dangerous than football. At least, that is what the NFL and its owners are headed for.

  17. Player safety? BS. This is about having to pay players under the settlement. From Mara’s perspective, if he is paying for it now the precedent is set for him to pay more later.

    But losing the kick off which is one of my favorite parts of the game . . . that will really suck. I dont know if I would watch.

    Cuban’s projection is looking more and more like reality.

  18. People need to boycott the NFL. That’s the only way that the owners and Czar Goodell will get the message. You keep watching, they keep changing football.

  19. ……..the NFL has become a corporation like all corporation’s in this day and age, that are over protecting themselves because of lawsuits. This is why RISK, COMPLIENCE and LEGAL depts in all facets of companies is NOW a BIG growing business in it’s own right. The game of football as we know it will vanish within 2o years. I’m glad I got to enjoy the game in it’s hayday. ( Still love watching the hit Sheldon Brown of the Eagles put on Reggie Bush in the playoffs…..)

  20. Yah because no one wants to see a 100 yard kick-off return , an onside kick recovered or a Music City Miracle. Go away Mr. Mara, let the boys play some ball.

  21. They are trying to eliminate my interest in this once great game. I can go fishing on Sundays.

  22. mcwest1 says:
    Apr 20, 2016 8:58 AM

    Sometimes we can complicate such simple things. If you want to eliminate the kickoff and retain the onsides kick, allow each team one onsides kick per game. It would be up to the team when they want to use it.
    ===================

    I don’t like the idea of having one per game. It is unusual, but it does happen where teams need more than one. I don’t remember the year, maybe 2003, when Indy was playing Tampa Bay (might have been Monday night football). And Indy was down by 20 points with 6 minutes to play. They scored to make it a 13 point game, recovered the onside kick, scored to make it a 6 point, recovered the onside kick again and scored to win the game. That epic comeback never happens with your rule.

    The simpler rule is that the team simply has to identify when they want to employ an onside kick. But the problem with that is, and your example of the SB is an excellent one, there would no longer be a surprise onside kick. Sean Payton never would have started the second half with an onside kick if he had to declare to his opponent that he was going to start the second half with an onside kick…

    So I feel like if you eliminate the kickoff you have to eliminate the onside kick. And then it becomes stupid. The team kicking off either gives the opponent the ball at their own (25?) and sends out their defense, or they elect to keep the ball, send out their offense, and it becomes 4th and 10 from their own 35, and they have one play to try to get a first down (which is essentially recovering an onside kick).

  23. mcwest1 says:
    Apr 20, 2016 8:58 AM
    Would Sean Payton have used it to open the second half of the Super Bowl? Or, would he have kept the option of the onsides kick in play in case it was needed at the end of the game?
    ——————

    Obviously Payton wouldn’t have, no surprise if you have to announce it. Surprise and the need to be prepared for both are key elements in the onside kick. Didn’t give that much thought eh?

  24. A little surprising only because the kickoff provides an extra high-priced commercial break

  25. More of the “War On Football”‘
    The kickoff return is one of the most exciting plays in any sport.
    There is NO evidence that kickoffs are any more dangerous than any other football play.
    This is what happens when you have a bunch of imbeciles running things, and dirty lawyers controlling everything.

  26. Look at the positive side, at least you won’t have to sit through another series of commercials after the kickoff and touch back after a team scores. I for one think that’s a positive.

  27. Great! Just when Seattle FINALLY has a great kick return specialist! They don’t need to eliminate kick offs. Just enact some rules to protect the runner.

  28. Without the onside kick any 2 score lead with a few minutes left gets the channel changed. Networks are going to love having a ratings drop where there used to be a spike

  29. You eliminate the kickoff, you lose me as a fan. It’s that simple. It’s the most exciting part of the game, and it adds variations and possibilities.

  30. Just make all kickoffs onside kicks. Doesn’t mean you have to just go for the 10 yard bounce, you could squib kick it 25 yards or so.

    These guys have to say things like this to portray the idea they really care about the players. These teams are side projects for a majority of these owners, they don’t want headaches from something that is only making a few hundred million per year.

    Fans do not matter to the owners, they will do whatever they have to do to keep increasing their profits. The NFL might be entertainment for millions of people but it’s a business for 32.

  31. This is becoming a product that is no longer football.

    And with the widespread corruption in Goodell’s National Integrity League I have very little interest any more.

  32. Hopefully the NFL does away with Mara, I’m sick and tired of “the kickoff is a dangerous play” crap. Show me the statistics. Because I rarely see a guy go down on a kick off, has it happened.. Yes. But i’d bet my paycheck theres less injuries on kickoffs then the 46 other plays a game. There is nothing as iconic as the opening kickoff and the flashing bulbs of the Super Bowl. If the NFL loses that, it loses its soul.

  33. Sorry, but the kickoff is where the ‘B’ players get a chance to shine. What they should do, is push the kickoff back so there are fewer touchbacks. The reason they are even considering it (injuries are a red herring) is because it has become a non-play with so many touchbacks.
    If they want to save heads, allow replays on head to head contact.

  34. tim2200 says:
    Apr 20, 2016 8:38 AM
    Why are these these greedy money grubbing self absorbed yahoos aka NFL owners owners constantly messing with this game????
    Does the Gang of 32 realize if they ALL fell off the face of the earth tomorrow the game would go on just fine without them and its’ fans wouldn’t even notice they’re gone.
    …………………………………………………………………………

    Because there are money hungry greedy players that want to sue over every little thing. Make all players sign a waiver, it’s a physical game that will result in bodily harm and you will get paid handsomely to do so

  35. “OWNERS IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE RAKING IN THE $$$ LEAVE THE GAME ALONE!!!” – FOOTBALL FANS

  36. Funny to see all the comments on here blaming the owners as if this is really what they want……its not. The liberal media and movies like concussion are what create these type of discussions. The Sport is under attack by those who see it as unsafe and irresponsible, and this is their reaction to it.

  37. I guess it’s the cynical side of me here, but this seems like a way to keep rosters from expanding instead of some sort of drive towards player safety. There has been push in recent years to expand the 53 man roster to handle the increasing talent pool, allowing teams to hold on to more key players. I believe this would allow for the NFL to maintain or decrease the current roster size, making total cap size decrease or stagnate. It would nullify a good portion of special teams players. I also question whether the kickoff is actually the most dangerous play in terms of head injuries. What are the numbers? Is repeated clashing of offensive and defensive linemen worse? Maybe catching a pass or running the ball is worse for defenders and receivers/rushers.

  38. I don’t like the idea of having one per game. It is unusual, but it does happen where teams need more than one. I don’t remember the year, maybe 2003, when Indy was playing Tampa Bay (might have been Monday night football). And Indy was down by 20 points with 6 minutes to play. They scored to make it a 13 point game, recovered the onside kick, scored to make it a 6 point, recovered the onside kick again and scored to win the game. That epic comeback never happens with your rule.

    On the other hand, epic comeback happen at that point in the game when the refs are tired of throwing flags. This gives a team that has trailed the entire game an unfair advantage. Guys like Manning & Elway made careers out of sucking for 3-1/2 quarters then go beserk for the last 8 minutes when they can get away with anything.

  39. Fix the Helmets….instead of changing the game.

    Adding an extra layer of padding to the “outside” of the helmet worked in the past and will work again if mandated by those who govern the sport at all levels…PeeWee football to the NFL.

    The ProCap worked at the NFL level in the late 80s and early 90s and why it is not the new standard for the NFL needs to be answered by Goodell.

    Honestly, the fix is that simple…this isn’t rocket science, folks.

    …fix the helmets and leave the game alone.

  40. so, your buddy calls and says be sure and be at the bar before the ?

    wife says, when is the ?

    Sports pages list the time of the game for the ?

  41. I would like to see the stats that show the kickoff is more dangerous…. or causes more injury…..than other downs in a game.
    Maybe it’s just me but it’s not like I see an injury on many kickoffs at all…..but far more during the normal course of games.
    Produce the stats and make me a believer.

  42. Eliminating once-in-while events like kickoffs will only serve to turn off fans while the elephant in the room remains the guys hitting heads along the line on every single play. The NFL could “very well” be gone someday.

  43. I can’t wait until the two-hand touch below the waist is a “tackle.” And the QB wears flags.

    *Yawn*

  44. Maybe they could move kickoffs to the opposing 1 yard line. Then keep onside kicks with the minimal 10 yards!

  45. Football is dangerous. If a player doesn’t want to take the risks….then don’t play. If fans don’t want to see the violence…..don’t watch. Quit messing up the game.

  46. The kickoff is all but dead anyway. How many great returns do you see a year…4 or 5? Literally I would tell my players to take the touchback every single time. I get so peeved when I see someone run it out and not make the 20. So I don’t care, other than it could be a slippery slope. I’d be all for Goodell running back every kick without a helmet or 10 other players if people really want to keep it.

  47. I’ve yet to see any evidence that kickoffs and kickoff returns are any more dangerous than any other play. Where are the injury statistics? If they exist you would think they’d be used as justification.

  48. BS !…NFL…be forewarned !….If you are going o continue
    to eliminate game contact, and make this ” Flag Football “,
    We are not going to PAY…to watch it !!!…we will NOT pay to go to your Stadiums ! or watch it on TV !…We have many other options for our Entertainment Dollar to be used !
    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…. Already !!!….db

  49. If the NFL did not have kickoffs in the 2009-10 season, Jim Caldwell might not have caught with his pants down when Sean Peyton and the Saints executed their on-sides play and went on to win Super Bowl XLIV. But knowing Jim Caldwell, he would have found a way to lose

  50. macbull says:
    Apr 20, 2016 10:31 AM

    Fix the Helmets….instead of changing the game.

    Adding an extra layer of padding to the “outside” of the helmet worked in the past and will work again if mandated by those who govern the sport at all levels…PeeWee football to the NFL.

    The ProCap worked at the NFL level in the late 80s and early 90s and why it is not the new standard for the NFL needs to be answered by Goodell.

    Honestly, the fix is that simple…this isn’t rocket science, folks.

    …fix the helmets and leave the game alone

    AND teach tackling again which I think is a lost art. Everyone wants the big WOO hit not tackling like was taught from the beginning of football.

  51. What a joke!! The NFL is crazy. It’s okay to play games on Thursday nights, or travel to Europe to play them, but it’s not okay to kick off???
    Here’s the deal. If they keep ruining this game I watched for over 50 years, I will stop watching. And I think other people will, too.
    This is like NASCAR saying they are going to prohibit cars from passing each other on the turns because it’s too dangerous!! It’s ludicrous!!
    In this country now, we are sue-happy and want to fix blame for everything which happens to us on someone else.
    These law suits over dementia are an example, to me. Anyone who has ever played tackle football knows what it’s like to have your bell rung. And anyone who didn’t know getting your bell rung meant your brain was being slammed around was pretty foolish, to me.
    Football is a risk and it’s always been a risk. So are many other contact sports. If you choose to play them, it’s all on you.
    If the NFL keeps changing these rules because of what might happen to players, then why not just shut the whole thing down? If it’s that dangerous, let it go the way of throwing Christians to the Lions.
    In my opinion, spell it out to anyone who might play football all the possibilities for injury as best they can, and do it at all levels. Then let the players (or their parents) decide of they want to play. If they do, great. If they don’t, also great.
    But stop making the game into a vanilla version of what it was.

  52. Isn’t football still a sport first and foremost? Why does one league think they can just change the sport at will. They don’t own rights to the sport in general. All the tinkering is bad for the sport, as players grow up with rules and learn to play by them. There should be an overall board for the rules of football, not just the NFL.

  53. let’s eliminate any exciting aspects of the game…..guess you want to see some hard hitting action ya gotta watch the NHL….don’t tell the owners but these guys get in fist fights and every thing

  54. Lay off Mara. It’s not him personally. If it were up to him, they’d be playing the 80’s football that he and we are grew up on and loved. He’s just reporting the consensus of the owners.

  55. “mcwest1 says: Apr 20, 2016 8:58 AM

    Sometimes we can complicate such simple things. If you want to eliminate the kickoff and retain the onsides kick, allow each team one onsides kick per game.”

    Umm…if you tell the other team you’re going to do it, you sort of lose the whole element of surprise thing.

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