Will NFL eventually dump kickoffs?

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Getting rid of the kickoff currently isn’t on the agenda for the NFL’s owners as they prepare to meet in Orlando. But it soon could be.

NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent recently told Dan Patrick that, immediately after the league meetings, a group will be organized to further explore the kickoff.

We have to do something about that play,” Vincent said. He acknowledged that there’s “resistance” to the possibility of getting rid of the kickoff, but getting rid of the kickoff remains on the table.

The issue of dumping the kickoff periodically gets mentioned by league executives. It first came up in a 2012 Time profile of Commissioner Roger Goodell, when Goodell mentioned an idea from Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano to give the team that would replace the kickoff with the team that would have been kicking off a fourth-and-15 from its own 30. The team can punt or go for it, either with a scrimmage play (simulating the planned onside kick) or a fake punt (simulating the surprise onside kick).

However it plays out, any decision to get rid of the kickoff will require a replacement that gives the team that’s trailing by more than one score a chance to keep possession and eventually tie or win the game. Otherwise, it will be harder for teams to launch comebacks, and the NFL surely won’t want to make any changes that could make its games less competitive and uncertain.

61 responses to “Will NFL eventually dump kickoffs?

  1. How much different is a punt than a kickoff? I’ve done both and personally, catching a punt is way more precarious. The blocking is way more inconsistent or should I say non-existent.

    How about letting the team kick the ball out of bounds legally (like a punt) and not penalize them. Then you’d have a whole new dynamic. I’m sure there are 10 ways to Sunday that there is a flaw in that but replacing a kickoff with a 4th and 15 or a punt isn’t that much different than an onsides kick or one blasted out of the endzone (which a trailing team would do, to preserve time).

  2. Honestly, with the way flags are called on every single return these days, might as well just cancel them altogether. It’s pretty much at the point where i cringe seeing my team take it out of the end zone because it’s like “oh great, here comes a flag, we’re getting backed up”

    I don’t wanna hear about how “kickoffs are so exciting, best part of the game” or whatever. Even without penalties, i have no idea how someone could possibly think the kickoff is that exciting.

    I personally wouldn’t do away with them, but if that’s how it ends up going…..meh. Not sure how much i’d really care. It’s just laundry day on the field with all those flags everywhere whenever a guy tries to make a play anyways, so what’s the point?

  3. Kickoffs provide some of the most exciting plays during a game, there’s no good reason to get rid of it. Injuries happen in practice, another bad potential move by the NFL.

  4. How about letting the team kick the ball out of bounds legally (like a punt) and not penalize them. Then you’d have a whole new dynamic.

    That actually doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

  5. How about letting the team kick the ball out of bounds legally (like a punt) and not penalize them. Then you’d have a whole new dynamic.

    Do it similarrives to rugby in that if the ball goes out of bounds outside the 20 yard line (22 in rugby I think), then that’s where the other team takes over. If the ball goes out of bounds within the 20 without touching the floor or player, then ball goes to the 20 yard line. If the ball touches the floor or a player inside the 20 then where it went out of bounds is where the team takes possession.

    Removing kickoffs will ruin football.

  6. The answer is very simple. NO. I don’t understand why this is brought up every year. Well, I could just say it is a slow time for news and gives people something to talk about I guess…

  7. Can’t the NFL have every NFL player sign an acknowledgement that they are playing a game whereby they can get hurt in ways not even conceived of yet … and then just junk all the baloney?

  8. @backintheday99, There is a reason they call the kickoff team the suicide squad. Having 11 guys line up across the field and sprint down is far more dangerous then a punt play. On Punts the players are coming down together from the line of scrimmage and have already been engaged. The punts might be a little more dangerous for the returner but the kick off is 10 guys sprinting down the field and colliding with 11 other huge guys, far more dangerous.

  9. Greg Schiano came up with that, eh? That’s actually a pretty good idea. Although, there’s probably a way better chance of converting 4th and 15 with a ticky tack penalty or even a straight up pass play than any onside kick. Maybe just keep the onside kick as is but go with the rest of the idea.

  10. Kickoff to start each half; if a team scores a touchdown AND a two point conversion, then it should get the ball back which will force defenses to actually do their job – otherwise the opposing team would get the ball back automatically on their 15 yard line after any non-8-point drive which will force teams to drive 85 yards to score a touchdown.

    Also change field goals – under 50 yards, 2 points; 50 yards but less than 60, 3 points; over 60 yards is 4 points. Miss a field goal and you lose 1 point.

  11. It would be safer to eliminate kickoffs (ball placed at 25 yard line) and punts (ball placed 40 yards away but no closer than the 5 yard line). And the team behind in the score would be entitled to the ball after any score. This would create opportunities for teams to catch up when behind. Games would be more exciting. This would also eliminate the need for special teanpms players and allow many more backups for each position.

  12. The NFL has very little credibility on player safety. Helmet to helmet hits are what causes most trauma but in “Certain” circumstances it is still okay to hit a player in that way.

    The Kick return is in my opinion an integral part of the game. People playing the game know the risks they are taking its one of the reasons they get paid extremely well for what they do, it is up to them whether they play or not they could also explore other areas of employment if they so choose.

    I foresee the day when this game will be decided by computer simulation. Teams will still draft players and Draftniks will decide on a yearly basis their “points” in multiple categories (just like Madden games)and this will be fed into a computer and the results spat out. That should make many people very happy.

    Me, I prefer the game we call football which to my eyes is fast changing and becoming unrecognizable.

  13. By the time they outlaw kickoffs its highly likely they would already have ruined the game to the point I’ll never watch it.

    I used to watch every possible game in every possible time slot. The last 3 seasons its been only the Patriot games, and last year I often went off in the middle of the game for an hour or hour and a half to run errands.

    Plenty of other ways to entertain yourself these days.

  14. I don’t want to see any players get hurt anymore…so I propose we make football a giant board game and the field is the board. Then the coaches can roll the dice and the players can WALK without getting tackled or hurt to where ever the play ended up.

  15. Here is how you preserve the onsidekick, while limiting the dangerous play:

    (1) The default after a TD would be to spot the ball at the 25 yard line with no kickoff;

    (2) However, the scoring team gets a limited number of optional chances to kick off (One per half? Three per game?) This could be used to pin your opponent within the 25, but coaches would need to save at least one for the end of the game for a potential onside kick.

  16. backintheday99 says:
    March 24, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    How much different is a punt than a kickoff?

    The difference is this – in punt formation, 10 of the 11 on the receiving team are usually at the line of scrimmage, and the punting team linemen are backing up to block (like pass blocking). Once the punt is made, everybody runs toward the returner, but the collisions don’t take place very often. In a kickoff, the kicking team members have a 10-15 yard running start before they get to anyone on the receiving team, and many of them get much further downfield before encountering someone to block them who in turn is coming forward at them. Those are the constant collisions the league is trying to reduce (if not eliminate).

  17. Why don’t they just leave the game as it is? Wow, not that would be revolutionary!
    These trust fund babies could just play golf and drink and still call it a quarterly meeting without screwing up the product!

  18. Dante Hall and Devin Hester come to mind as some of the greats, I don’t know where I’m going with this but you can’t take Kick Offs away

  19. It’s embarrassing watching kickoffs in today’s game. The NFL has managed to eliminate what used be an exciting play. I’v noticed that I’ve been seeing less and less of NFL games lately, if they make that change, I’m out.

  20. Add players to the kick off- like the whole roster, stack them like a Foosball player set up –
    No way people get hurt then – 50 players against 50 players , stacked 10 yards apart-

    Curious how do Rugby players have such a lower injury rate than NFL players?

  21. Can you people that insist on clutching pearls whenever you speak of the “violence of the game” and “player safety” please go back to baseball?

  22. The goal is to make the game safer, but still allow for an onside kick:
    (1) after scoring plays, the ball is spotted by default at the 25 yard line of the team that did not score;
    (2) However, each team gets two kickoffs to use at their discretion throughout the game. You could use it to pin a team deeper than the 25 at any point, but you better hang on to at least one in case you need an onside kick late.

  23. The NFL is already in a slow decline. They’re still printing money but if they do this it will increase the speed of the decline. I would think they have smart enough people in charge that this is just lip service.

  24. one strong incentive to get rid of the kickoff is that it simplifies the game and levels the odds for poorer coaches i.e. dumbs it down. right now only belichick and a couple other coaches have enough confidence to kick short of goal line, force a run back and tackle short of the 25.

  25. I watch a lot of football and maybe I’m missing them but….

    Is there a really higher number of injuries happening on kick offs more than normal plays? People who play numbers will say they are twice as dangerous. In reality it’s a few tenths more dangerous than a normal play. At times 10 years ago running and passing plays were more dangerous than kick offs.

    The stats are old but over the years the difference is an average of .4% more injuries happen on kick offs over plays from scrimmage. If you want to amaze people with numbers you can say injuries happen “nearly” twice as much on kickoffs. The actual percentages are like 2% on kick offs and 1.5% of normal plays include injuries.

  26. im sure the players association and players will love it when they reduce roster sizes since they wont need all those worthless special teams depth guys anymore too.

  27. Why does the NFL always seem determined to shoot itself in the foot? They always manage to find ways to take the most exciting parts of the game and eliminate them. Remember sudden death overtime? That was the coolest, most exciting thing in all of sports, so naturally the NFL did away with it and turned it into some kind of idiotic soccer-type “back and forth” shootout situation. Now they’re looking at eliminating another exciting, unpredictable, totally unique part of the game: the kickoff. Kickoffs are awesome because the potential is always there for a return touchdown. So, of course, the NFL is considering getting rid of it. I have been an NFL fan for decades, and it’s the greatest game in the world. Why do they want to keep screwing with it and turning off the fans, who are starting to trickle away in greater and greater numbers? STOP IT, NFL!

  28. Of course the NFL will get rid of kickoffs. The rules are being changed so that eventually it will be the National Flag Football League.
    Look at the NBA — they got rid of most jump balls and use a your turn / my turn system now. I never liked that, either.
    A kickoff return for a touchdown is one of the most exciting plays in the football. To take it away is another example of the game changing for the worse.
    What they should be getting rid of is these stupid block-in-the-back penalties on kickoff and punt returns. I’d guess that that penalty is called on about 70% of all kickoffs and it is soooo annoying. I can see calling it if the block helps the runner. But when they call it on the other side of the field or far away from the runner and it has no bearing on the play, it’s ridiculous. I’ve even see it called when the runner is ten yards ahead of everyone and about to score, and someone nudges a guy from behind! That is one of the dumbest things officials can do.

  29. No , no, no! If you have a QB like Rogers that attempts and then lobbies for the PI call all the time you have now replaced the insides kick with a subjective PI call. No thank you.

  30. Dump kickoffs, punting, field goals and rushing plays. Just make it be pass plays and have it so defensive players have to give 5 yards of free space and can only tackle if the receiver is looking directly at them.

    Oh and ban sacks too. Heck, just get rid of line play.

    This league is pathetic and while I still follow it online, I quit watching. I have better things to do with my time than watch this once great league keep declining like it has been since Goodell took over.

  31. Change the kickoff to punt and you can retain 95% of the excitement, and cut back on injuries.

    If the only purpose is to cut back on injuries then realize each move makes the game less fun to watch. Just have flag football and the game will be a lot safer.

  32. Please just go ahead and create the Flag Football League so that grass fairies can have their game and we can have ours.

  33. I know the League is afraid of injuries but they are also out of their mind of dropping ratings. All these rule changes seem to be to try and gain more viewers.. How about limiting BIG money Free Agents so fans can afford to take their Kids to games which is their next generation of fans. The older fans are passing away and not being filled by younger ones.

  34. Why don’t they get rid of kicking in football altogether, why they’re at it. No need for people like Vinitieri, Gostowski, or any other kicker. May as just make TDs 7 points, and eliminate 3 Pointers. Hell, might as well get rid of Special teams altogether. Stop messing with the game.

  35. Kickoff returns are on average worse than taking a touchback. On just about every big return there are multiple blocks in the back, so big returns are can be more down to refs than players. Kickoff returns also result in more injuries. So on average they are less effective than a touchback, the most boring play in the game, and more financially costly for teams. Giving the offense a chance at 4th and really long would be much more exciting. Special teams plays are usually boring and kickoffs are usually the most boring. Turn them into punt returns, safer, and just as exciting.

  36. Yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s change the name of the game to “Footlessball”!

    I have fond but distant memories of the days when, to score a TOUCHDOWN, the ball carrier had to take the ball into the end zone and – guess what – actually touch it down on the ground! None of this “breaking-the-plane” BS, which should be called – what – a “plane through”?

    There’s less “foot” in football every year, and there’s been no such thing as a “touchdown” for decades!

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