Ameer Abdullah: NFL can’t take the kickoff away


Lions running back Ameer Abdullah led the league in kickoff return yards as a rookie last year. But he’s worried that by the time his career ends, there will be no such thing as a kickoff.

Abdullah told he knows the NFL has talked about eliminating the kickoff, but he doesn’t believe there’s any real evidence that it’s too dangerous, and he doesn’t want to change a play that has been so fundamental to the sport of football for as long as the sport has existed.

They can’t take the kickoff away . . . I have to see the numbers to believe it’s too dangerous,” Abdullah said. “I return kicks. I watch the film. What I see is what I see, and I think there are more dangerous plays out there. You can only have two-man wedges now too, so it’s basically just one-on-one blocks. I just don’t think it’s dangerous enough to eliminate.”

Abdullah likes kickoffs not only because returning them is part of his job but because they’re exciting. And he correctly points out that eliminating the possibility of an onside kick would fundamentally change football.

“It’s one of the most exciting plays in football,” Abdullah said. “It’s a play that changes the game, especially if you have a game where the offenses and defenses are matching each other. The kickoff return makes a difference. And what happens with onside kicks? Do they take that away too?”

The onside kick is probably the strongest reason to keep the kickoff: Without the onside kick, a game with more than a one-possession lead in the fourth quarter becomes a lot less exciting. But if the NFL can figure out a way to ditch the kickoff while preserving the opportunity for a team to get the ball back after scoring, the kickoff may go away. No matter how much Abdullah and other players want to keep it.

36 responses to “Ameer Abdullah: NFL can’t take the kickoff away

  1. not only can they but they will and then you’ll be back working at the Howard Johnsons over on Maple

  2. Taking the kickoff away would hurt the entertainment value of the game. I am glued to the TV during a kickoff, but the typical 2nd and long doesn’t do much for me.

  3. I hope Ameer is right but Commissioner Goodell can and will do anything he wants. It doesn’t matter what the fans of the game want, the game revolves around what Roger can do to reduce the risk of owners facing future litigation.

  4. Nascar is going to reduce the speed limit to 60 MPH because they found out that racing at higher speeds is dangerous.

  5. Since when does the NFL need a legitimate study before choosing a course of action?

    They could replace the traditional kickoff with a punt, and a 40 yard touch back so it stays in bounds (high arcing kick).
    M_M_Q_B had an article by Mike Westhof (special teams coach) on changing the kickoff to make it safer.

  6. Doesn’t the NFL understand that a kickoff is not only an integral part of the game but also highly symbolic? Even the word “kickoff” is exciting. It’s become part of the American lexicon. Besides, people care about kickoffs. Kickoffs get the juices flowing, because everyone knows that anything can happen on a kickoff. Crowds aren’t going to rush to the stadium to be on their feet for a noontime “place the ball on the 25-yard-line and let’s begin the game” moment. If you take away the kickoff you’ll also be taking away an important part of the game day experience.

    In a similar vein, I firmly believe that taking away sudden-death overtime was the worst thing the NFL has ever done. Sudden-death rocked. It was unique, exciting, spontaneous and unpredictable. Nobody did it but the NFL, and it was really, really fun. Now overtime in the NFL has become the equivalent of a soccer game shootout, and pro football is poorer for it. (Also, I hate soccer.) Let’s not make the same mistake with kickoffs and take them out of the game. Kickoffs are an important part of what make football…well, football.

  7. Tell Goodell he can’t do something, you might be the subject of his next “investigation.” Watch out.

  8. Correction, they SHOULDN’T remove the kickoff

    But eventually, they will. They have to try to pretend that they are making an inherently dangerous game safe

  9. Nascar is going to reduce the speed limit to 60 MPH because they found out that racing at higher speeds is dangerous.

    That sounds good, but the reality is NASCAR drivers aren’t lining up by the the thousands to sue their employer for CTE or for covering it up.

    NASCAR isn’t on the national news every time we turn around being talked about because of head injuries our youth might suffer if they grow up playing the game.

    NASCAR isn’t dropping 100’s of millions of $ into research into head trauma and health care for its former employees because of it.

    IF, the NFL doesn’t address this issue it will ruin the game.

  10. The kickoff will be removed and the vast majority of fans will continue to tune in every week while simultaneously expressing their disgust. The league will continue to do what it does if the ratings and bottom line are not negatively impacted.

  11. The kickoff is only dangerous near the Steeler or Jet sideline. That being said, I will accept whatever our naht z commish says and I will like it. Article 46.

  12. You can thank lawyers and former players looking for a payday who want to claim they didn’t know concussions could have long term effects, even though Staubach knew that back in 1980, which is why he retired. I knew that in the 70’s when I played pee wee.

  13. If there is no kickoff, how will the start time be advertised? Will they just say “coin toss at 8pm” or “first snap at 8pm” or something just as stupid? I still recall the college game I attended many years ago where the receiving team scored a TD on the opening kickoff and missed the PAT. That was all the scoring in that game.

  14. The Roger Plan

    First step: show that kickoffs are more dangerous than other plays.

    Second step: keep floating the idea through the media that kickoffs are more dangerous than other plays

    Third step: change kickoff point to reduce the number of kickoffs/increase touchbacks

    Fourth step: repeat step two

    Fifth step: eliminate kickoffs from the game entirely

  15. It has nothing to do with player safety. The NFL doesn’t give a damn about player safety. It’s the perception that they are doing everything they can to make the game safer is what they are after. Once they are in court they can then point to moves like eliminating the kickoff as them trying to protect the players. It’s about trying to limit the money amounts that they know they will be liable for.

  16. I wouldn’t mind if they moved the kickoff back to the 25 yard line and had run backs on just about every play. Someone will have to remind me of the last serious injury sustained on a kickoff. In any case, eliminating the kickoff also serves to eliminate the on sides kickoff and that’s a vert interesting late game element.

  17. rog think of something you and the owners really care about all the lost money from the endless commercials before in between and after each and every kick or change of possession a lot of money and no excitement jmo

  18. Please. The NFL won’t take the kickoff away because they will those that awesome 2nd commercial break you get after a score. Score – commercial – 10 seconds of kickoff for a touchback – commercial. Thank god for TiVo/DVR.

  19. …isnt football a game where men collide into each other?…..correct me id I’m wrong. IF you get rid of the kickoff you gotta get rid of ALL interior lineman..linebackers and wrs that block…..THIS GAME IS DOOMED!!!

  20. eliminating the kickoff and preserving the onside kick is simple.
    Just give the team kicking off the option of giving the other team the ball at their own 25 OR lining up for an onside kick. Not rocket science

  21. This has nothing to do with “player safety” as the league claims. They have long ago proven they care zero about player’s health as long as they can’t be sued over an issue.

    What this does have everything to do with is parity.

    Think about it.

    The consistently good teams tend to have consistently good special teams and special teams coaching.

    The consistently bad teams tend to have consistently bad special teams and special teams coaching.

    How many times have we seen games blown open by good teams over bad by a couple of crucial special teams plays that lead to a 7 or 14 point swing in favor of the good team ?

    It they take away a substantial portion of the special teams plays by eliminating kickoffs they close the parity gap by eliminating an advantage the consistently good team have over consistently bad teams.

    This is all about making the teams regularly at the bottom of the league more competitive without having to spend a dime or improve in any way.

    Ie, the league wants to reward the lousy teams for staying lousy.

    Goodell is VILE

    Goodell and his cronies must go !

  22. Dud 90% of the time.

    But that 10%:
    “Okay, yea, Nice block…Okay. Yea! Alright. Go! Go! One man to beat… Go! Go! Go!


    Or vice versa…

    That is worth it.

  23. I’m convinced the most dangerous plays in all of football are passing plays.

    Not only that, but most new safety rules encourage more passing…

    Think about it.

    The targeting plays, almost every one is a pass play. Very dangerous for both defender and pass catcher. Physical pass D has been ruled out of existence. Incentive to pass. QB hits are banned, unless you hit the perfect spot…grounding is allow in most instances…

    All of these rules create an incentive to pass more, not pass less.

    Running plays are way more safe….

    The rules have led to more injuries…essentially.

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