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Elimination of kickoff is still a possibility

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The latest effort to reduce kickoffs already is backfiring. Eventually, the NFL could do something that definitely would not result in more returns.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently explained that the kickoff could still be removed from the game.

“We’ve made some very effective changes on the kickoff that have had a very significant impact reducing injuries,” Goodell told Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “It is still a play where we see a higher propensity for head injury. So we want to try to address that. We think there’s still further changes that we can make. We won’t take anything off the table, including the elimination [of it]. But we still think there are some changes that we can make that we’ll continue to see progress in that area.”

The 2016 change already has triggered more returns, and with coaches like Bill Belichick explaining (and demonstrating) the benefits of deliberately kicking the ball short and tackling the returner inside the 25, more kickoff returns likely are coming.

If/when the kickoff is eliminated, what will replace it? Per a source with knowledge of the internal deliberations within the league, the concern is simulating the onside kick, both when a team is trailing by more than one score late in a game and when a team would like to launch a surprise (like the Saints did in the second half of Super Bowl XLIV). For now, the only replacement that allows for both is the 4th-and-15 idea suggested by former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and floated by Goodell in a Time magazine profile several years ago.

When asked about alternatives to the kickoff, the 4th-and-15 scenario is the first, and only, proposal that currently is mentioned. And it makes plenty of sense. The kicking team could punt (simulating the kickoff), run a play from scrimmage (simulating the deliberate onside kick), or execute a fake punt (simulating the surprise onside kick).

A PFT poll posted in March found more disagreement than agreement with this possible replacement for the kickoff. If there’s another alternative that allows for all three, we’d love to know what it is. In part so that we could steal it and claim it as our own.

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56 Responses to “Elimination of kickoff is still a possibility”
  1. jjb0811 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:34 AM

    Punts are next to go to the gallows.

  2. joetoronto says: Sep 16, 2016 11:35 AM

    The NFL has become a joke.

  3. weepingjebus says: Sep 16, 2016 11:35 AM

    Why does the NFL have a Commissioner that doesn’t like football?

  4. cueghost says: Sep 16, 2016 11:39 AM

    Kickoffs could be made optional. Both teams would have to waive the kickoff and the ball would be placed on 20. If either team elects for a kickoff then kick it off from the 30 and play ball. Sure, it would be obvious when a team was going to kick an on-side kick, but I dare say that’s the case already. Some receiving teams might also elect to have a kick off once in a while if they have an excellent return man or need a spark or something…
    I’m guessing you’d do away with at least 70% of the existing kickoffs.

  5. VikesRule says: Sep 16, 2016 11:41 AM

    Hey NFL,

    Here’s an idea. Stop changing the game! It’s fine as it is!

    I’m tired of these liberals ruining America and football!

    If I want to watch grown men bash into each other over and over again, I should have that right. I don’t care what health effects it has on them. They get paid money!

    Let freedom ring. Trump 2016!

  6. ajsjr40 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:43 AM

    Leave the game alone. Football is an inherently dangerous game that grown men decide to play for a living. Take out all the plays where a player can get hurt and you will be left with nothing.

  7. 6250claimer says: Sep 16, 2016 11:44 AM

    Should read “elimination of Goodell”

  8. throwingstones20 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:45 AM

    This idea sounds awful. You take way to much away from the game by eliminating kickoffs

  9. jackericsson says: Sep 16, 2016 11:46 AM

    Why not just making the kicking tee illegal on kickoff’s too. That would eliminate kicks from a tee and the onside kick also since that also creates tremendous collisions. It would incentivize punting like after a safety. If you just make it 4th and 10, I could see fake punt passes all day hoping for pass interference or crossing routes picking off defenders. It would create make it, take it like in basketball scrimmages.

  10. thoff1525 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:48 AM

    What if they moved the kickoff back to the 30, and awarded a field goal (or extra point) if the kicker makes it through the uprights. This would give an incentive for teams to kick deep.

  11. jwcarlson says: Sep 16, 2016 11:49 AM

    Bring back the XFL.

    He Hate Me.

  12. ravenbiker says: Sep 16, 2016 11:50 AM

    Good idea. Let’s remove what is arguably the most exciting play in football. Is the commissioner also subject to random drug testing?

  13. firecracker87 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:50 AM

    Give all the Chicken Little’s their blankies.

  14. vegasdestroyer says: Sep 16, 2016 11:54 AM

    Have each team’s cheerleaders fight for the ball in a mud pit. Think of the ratings!

  15. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:55 AM

    This has zero to do with “player safety” and everything to do with parity.

    The consistently good teams year after year have consistently good special teams and coaching.

    The consistently bad teams usually have bad special teams and bad special teams coaching.

    How many times have we seen a good team bury a bad one with a couple special teams plays that swing the score 10 – 14 points in their favor?

    By eliminating kickoffs they eliminate a substantial number of special teams plays and close the parity gap.

    Ie; they are going to reward the horrible owners who won’t do what it takes to be anything but a bottom feeder as long as the money machine keeps rolling. They won’t need to spend another dime or do anything to be a little more competitive.

    Just more lies and manipulation by vile Goodell and his cronies.

  16. rdevous says: Sep 16, 2016 12:00 PM

    I think the short high kicks that are returnable aren’t so in the traditional sense, they are more like punts and as such less likely to injure. The data can not simply be analyzed as there are more returns the data needs to include analysis of injuries, increase or decrease which is the true goal of the rule.

    1st and 15 sounds hokey like the scrum for the ball instead of kickoffs, something the tradition of the NFL shouldn’t support after all this isn’t the arena league, CFL, or the USFL etc.

    You could still have kickoff’s as they are now but they just aren’t returnable, I know sounds silly as most would not be onside but it does two things, 1 make a mockery of it and 2 leave the element of surprise with potential onside kicks.

    And here’s an idea why not spin a wheel with a 100 spaces on it 26 of which say onside kick successful? The danger there at some point it may lead to an initiative to truly eliminate injuries and just have the whole game left to chance!

  17. puffnstuff5005 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:00 PM

    Here we go again. The NFL is about to fix something that isn’t broken. They’ve become very good at that lately.

  18. exboomer says: Sep 16, 2016 12:04 PM

    Or they could give the players flags on kickoffs and that would reduce the possibility of injury.

  19. widerightyouloseagain says: Sep 16, 2016 12:04 PM

    Millennials don’t like the contact, it’s too brutal for the snow flakes.

  20. mikea311 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:05 PM

    thoff1525 says:
    Sep 16, 2016 11:48 AM
    What if they moved the kickoff back to the 30, and awarded a field goal (or extra point) if the kicker makes it through the uprights. This would give an incentive for teams to kick deep.


    in corporate it into the extra point. if you make it through the uprights, you get the extra point. If not you either get a touchback or the ball is returned. make all touchdowns 7 pts and going for 2 forces a touchback.

  21. Trap12 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:10 PM

    Is it just me, or with the new tee off on 25 yd line and kickers still doing touchdown, does it seem there is more up and down team progress in games, red zones being reached more easily [who cares with 50 yd place kickers, right]. It just seems the teams are around their own 20 yd line very long.

    As for getting rid of it, one, how many personnel are you throwing out, or eliminating from learning and participating in the game itself, including coaches and the tee go getter! Two, eliminate tackling on the kick off and make it two hand touch.

  22. chuckshontaspads says: Sep 16, 2016 12:10 PM

    The Serial liar will eliminate the kickoff and the serial haters will blame Belichick for outsmarting the Serial liar Goodell again. Haters will demand draft picks or a suspension know..he is just smarter and that’s not fair.

  23. TheBrownswillstinkagain says: Sep 16, 2016 12:15 PM

    Liberals ruining the Game? Goodell is a stupid Republican, you know the Party that isnt known for its Intelligence

  24. jag1959 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:15 PM

    Shocking, that the rule change worked out exactly the way anyone not working at 345 Park Ave knew it would. The obvious answer to these transparent attempts to circumvent the league’s intent is to declare short kickoffs are conduct detrimental and going forward intentional offenders will be executed.

  25. steelcurtainn says: Sep 16, 2016 12:17 PM

    You take away the kickoff you are no longer playing real football anymore. Would be huge bad idea.

  26. metalman5150 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:18 PM

    Don’t take the foot out of FOOTBALL.

  27. ballistictrajectory says: Sep 16, 2016 12:20 PM

    I dunno…

    A dramatization of this article below:

    [NFL] Too many injuries during kickoff returns. Must stop.

    [Board of Obviousmen] What shall we do?!?!?!

    [Guy that should be buried alive in pig filth] We could… kick the ball to them…What?

  28. lemmetalkwouldya says: Sep 16, 2016 12:20 PM

    Fans overwhelming want kickoff returns, but arrogant Roger Gooddell doesn’t care what the customers want.

    Why listen to your customer base, right?

    Give them overseas home games they don’t want, while you’re at it.

  29. GronkLikePizza says: Sep 16, 2016 12:22 PM

    I kind of hope they do eliminate kickoffs. The weekends are short, and that would free up my Sundays for stuff like raking leaves and flea markets, or grocery shopping with the wife.

  30. logast says: Sep 16, 2016 12:22 PM

    I am waiting for Troy Vincent to testify that they had no idea that teams, particularly New England, would force a return. They assumed it would be touchback city.

    Ignorance isn’t bliss.

  31. tajuara says: Sep 16, 2016 12:24 PM

    The NFL will not eliminate the kickoff. TV Stations make money in advertising from the moment a team receives the kickoff to the moment the offense jumps to the field. No way the NFL will eliminate a source of revenue.

  32. fanasaurus says: Sep 16, 2016 12:24 PM

    I’ve got a suggestion, leave our fn game alone. Tweaks for safety are one thing but to completely eliminate a major part of the game is asinine.

  33. igotgamenj says: Sep 16, 2016 12:30 PM

    NFL is turning into 2 hand touch

  34. bullcharger says: Sep 16, 2016 12:33 PM

    Just fix the taclking rules and leave the play in. It’s way to exciting to get rid of it.

  35. peytonwantsaflag says: Sep 16, 2016 12:35 PM

    sorry but the risk of injury is one of the things that justifies their exorbitant salaries. I’m not looking for blood but you start taking away the excitement of kickoffs etc, then salaries, and then ticket prices need to start coming down.

  36. getadealdonealready says: Sep 16, 2016 12:36 PM

    then punts, then tackling, then accidental contact….I don’t like where this is heading.

  37. sewalters79 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:37 PM

    Leave the Game alone Idiots! Next will have a segregated league…

  38. 205diamonds says: Sep 16, 2016 12:38 PM

    Belichick figured out how to use the new rule too fast. Let’s go with plan B – elimination of the kickoff

  39. mikeinminny says: Sep 16, 2016 12:38 PM

    Why not just an alternating possession type format? If a team fails to score or is stopped on downs, the ball turns over to the defense….just kidding…LEAVE THE GAME ALONE!!

  40. mmack66 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:39 PM

    Where are all of these alleged head injuries?

    If they really wanted to eliminate head injuries, they would throw the Broncos out of the league, and reduce them by half.

  41. firecracker87 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:40 PM

    vegasdestroyer says:
    Sep 16, 2016 11:54 AM
    Have each team’s cheerleaders fight for the ball in a mud pit. Think of the ratings!


    LOL! The ratings would go through the roof for sure. And i’m sure a lot more beer profits too!

  42. firecracker87 says: Sep 16, 2016 12:44 PM

    Pretty soon lingerie football will be tougher than these pansies.

  43. patsbrat says: Sep 16, 2016 12:50 PM

    Eliminating kickoffs also means eliminating on-sides kicks.

    A very significant strategy will be lost. As well as significant excitement that goes with it.

    Seattle’s recovery in the playoff game with the Packers in the playoffs… Saints surprise play in the Super Bowl… These are historic plays, the like of which would never be seen again.

  44. jmac1013 says: Sep 16, 2016 1:24 PM

    Since QBs and Receivers get hit in the head most during pass plays the NFL should eliminate the forward pass. Player safety first.

  45. pastabelly says: Sep 16, 2016 1:33 PM

    Anytime the Patriots are able to use a rule to their advantage, the league changes the rule. Consider this one changed.

  46. tgadler says: Sep 16, 2016 1:38 PM

    If the NFL really wants to limit head trauma all they really have to do is change the equipment. Those over the top bobble head looking helmet pads work. They may look a little goofy, but it’s better than changing the game.

  47. Deb says: Sep 16, 2016 1:51 PM

    Is there any data that shows more players suffer traumatic brain injury and/or other crippling injuries on kick returns than on other plays? I’m not talking about the potential for more injuries, but more actual injuries. A few years ago, the league cut funding to paralysis research. I don’t know if they’ve changed that policy, but it seems an odd reaction for a commissioner who claims player safety is his first concern. Like some others, I have to wonder if his real goal is helping players stay healthy–or just giving the appearance of safety to the public … and Congressional investigators.

    A better solution that eliminating the kickoff would be eliminating the commercials that run both before and after … not to mention eliminating the current commissioner.

  48. patsrule59 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:03 PM

    The Patriots did a great job of using kickoffs to their advantage Sunday night so yes, of course the league needs to eliminate kickoffs.

    Just like exotic offensive formations and anything else that the Patriots do better than other teams…kickoffs must be eliminated!

  49. rd3777 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:07 PM

    Get rid of this JERK!!!!!

  50. laserw says: Sep 16, 2016 2:23 PM

    Yes, the NFL has become a joke.

    Why not set the ball at the 15 yard line for a touchback? That eliminates the need for return men since they aren’t likely to get a chance to return.

    The catch rule is a joke.

    Last night there was a catch without a football move and it was ruled a catch. Oddly enough, when a receiver catches a ball with two feet down in the endzone there is never the ability to make a football move.

    So what is a catch?

    A catch should be in real time – one, one thousand and two one thousand. Period. Possession. That is essentially what you have in the endzone. That should apply to all catches. Fumble afterwards and that is a fumble. Fumble before and it is a non-catch.

    I still think that there should be no kickoff – the offense that scores a TD should retain the ball until they stop scoring TD’s. Defenses will have to improve.

  51. firecracker87 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:38 PM

    laserw says:
    Sep 16, 2016 2:23 PM

    So what is a catch?

    My 8 year old kid could tell it to the NFL best with the following:

    “When you catch the ball”. i.e. it never hits the ground.

    Now, i’ll thow a little adult color on that:

    i.e. it never hits the ground before the player is down (knee on the ground, etc.).

    How hard is that really?

  52. charger383 says: Sep 16, 2016 2:46 PM

    There are many things I could do on Sunday afternoons

  53. mack2x says: Sep 16, 2016 2:50 PM

    Stop trying to fix what’s not broken.

  54. mack2x says: Sep 16, 2016 2:59 PM

    “We’ve made some very effective changes on the kickoff that have had a very significant impact reducing injuries,”

    –I call bs on this one. I watch countless kickoffs and somehow keep missing all these injuries they claim to be reducing.

  55. riraider says: Sep 16, 2016 3:26 PM

    Owners! If you really want to fix the game hire Belichick to run the NFL!

  56. xiiprestige says: Sep 16, 2016 4:00 PM

    No its not a possibility!!! Not even a 1% chance.

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