The NFL doesn’t want to get rid of the kickoff, but it sure would like to get rid of the kickoff return.
The ongoing effort to marginalize the kickoff return could result in an external groundswell aimed at scuttling the kickoff entirely. The league could then shrug and say, “Well, if that’s what the people want. . . .”
Even if that’s what the NFL actually wants.
But here’s the problem. If that’s what the people (and the league) want, what will the replacement for the kickoff be? Simply putting the ball at the 20 or 25 won’t be enough, because it would eliminate the onside kick.
More than three years ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell floated this possible replacement: The team that would be kicking off gets the ball on its own 30, facing fourth down and 15.
Punting in that situation would simulate the kickoff. Going for it in that situation would simulate the onside kick. A fake punt would simulate the surprise onside kick.
Former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano had proposed the idea, due to the injury suffered by Eric LeGrand on a kickoff return during Schiano’s tenure at Rutgers.
Assuming the kickoff goes away, what do you think of this possible replacement? And if you don’t like it, we’d ask for another idea that removes the kickoff but that doesn’t remove from the game the concept of the onside kick.