AAF’s substitute for kickoff, onside kick should attract NFL’s attention

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The kickoff is dead. As far as the Alliance of American Football is concerned.

And at a time when the NFL seems to be inching toward a similar outcome, the more established league surely will be paying attention to the AAF’s tee-free reality.

So when the first season of the AAF kicks off tonight, the ball won’t be kicked but will be placed at the 25, with one team on offense and the other team on defense. After each score and at the start of each half, that’s how the game will proceed.

With two important exceptions.

If the team that just scored trails by 17 or more points or if the team that just scored trails by any amount with fewer than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, that team can choose to try to convert a fourth-and-12 play from its own 28. If the team gains 12 or more yards in that one play, it keeps possession. If it doesn’t, the other team takes possession.

It’s a great idea, but the AAF (and, eventually, the NFL) should go the rest of the way. The fourth-and-12 (or 15, as has been discussed by the NFL) play should be the default replacement for all kickoffs, with the team that otherwise would be kicking choosing between punting or going for it (or, possibly, trying a fake punt or even unexpectedly launching over the defense a pooch punt from offensive formation).

Until the AAF makes that fourth-and-12 play the standard replacement for kickoffs, one specific oddity can arise late in any AAF game. If a team is behind by more than a score with more than five minutes left in the game, that team could try to milk the clock while also trying to score, hoping to score with fewer than five minutes left so that it will have the ability to utilize the fourth-and-12 option.

It becomes an important strategic dynamic if/when a team that is down by two scores has the ball and is in position to get one of those two scores. Scoring too quickly means surrendering possession automatically. Engineering the clock so that the score comes with 4:59 or less on the clock secures the ability to try to keep possession via the fourth-and-12 play.

However these issues work themselves out, the NFL surely will be studying the situation. If fans embrace this alternative to the kickoff, the NFL will become more likely to incorporate the change (or something like it) into its game.

95 responses to “AAF’s substitute for kickoff, onside kick should attract NFL’s attention

  1. Novel concept- I’d like to hear what the players think about kickoffs.

    Personally, I HATE this idea, but that’s just me.

  2. So we should all anticipate a scenario where the Patriots are down by multiple scores in the fourth quarter, come back to win by converting multiple times rather than kicking, followed by the whole world losing its mind with rage.

  3. What kind of game is football becoming when you can’t even have a kickoff anymore? For over a century, the kickoff (particularly the opening kickoff) has been a highlight and a focal point of the event. People get excited about kickoffs and rush to the stadium in time to see them. And yet, football is choosing to eliminate this unique aspect of the game in favor of (ho hum) starting with a play from scrimmage. It’s sad to watch the game slowly get whittled down to a less-than-stimulating exercise. Of course, I’ve been saying that ever since the NFL decided to do away with sudden death overtime, which was the most exciting thing in all of sports. Sometimes it seems as though the people who run the game are trying their best to take all the fun and thrills out of it completely.

  4. No. Change the kickoff rules back to the 20, bring back wedges, running starts, and kick the damn ball off. If you want to create a new sport fine, but don’t keep killing what was the most the most entertaining game by removing/changing the most entertaining play.

  5. Bill Polian has said it’s all about safety. Ok😑. He also said the no exotic blitzes rule is so no QB’s will get hurt. Ok😐.

    Both these rules alone make me want to tune out.

    The NFL is hoping these rules are seen as ok by fans of the AAF so they can try and implement them in the NFL. I almost want to boycott the AAF. One, to make sure it’s not seen as a huge success and the NFL implements this crap. Two, because I would love to see Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersonl fail miserably so they are forced to go away and never be heard from again.

  6. I was pumped for this till I heard you can’t blitz and there’s not much kicking and returns involved. That’s not football. I hope xfl gets off the ground, but I have my doubts.

  7. Love the 4th and 15 after every score. Way too many injuries on kickoff and the rules they have implemented to avoid injuries results in too many touchbacks or pooch kickoffs, not to mention that onsides kicks are all but impossible. 4th and 15th would bring back the onside kick effect and solve the kickoff injury problem once and for all.

    Hope the NFL does this.

  8. People don’t rush to see the opening kickoff, they rush to see the game which happens to start with a kickoff. If the game started with two linemen sumo wrestling to determine starting field position then people would still rush to see the start of the game. Kickoffs are stupid and barely even football. Punts and field goals are all the sport needs.

    AAF has stupid onside kick and overtime rules. College and AAF overtime rules are as stupid as shootouts.

  9. There’s a reason that the ratings for football are going down, (Yes it’s still the best game on the planet.) Quit messing with it. leave the kickoff alone. It’s a game of flaws. Played, coached and reffed by people with flaws. Leave it alone.

  10. That’s why this league will fail. They are going forward, where many NFL fans are wanting to go backward to 80’s/90’s era football.

    This is why I think the XFL will succeed.

  11. The hypothesis that kickoffs present extreme danger is false. This is nothing but a red herring for PR/legal purposes. Soon there will be so much money in this game no one will want to make any contact for fear of getting hurt and losing all that money.

  12. I’ve been watching NFL football for a long time. Decades. To me, the NFL game today is the best it’s ever been. I love the new rules that have led to more offense. Defense still matters, but the game is more wide open and riveting, and it seems like head injuries are coming down. I’m seeing how league revenue is increasing every year, so I’m obviously not the only one who likes the product. There’s always going to be room for improvement. I’m sure Bill Gates would say the same thing about Microsoft. If the NFL copies any good rules, that’s cool too. That’s what smart people do.

  13. Thats stupid , why not just win or lose by the coin toss. Gee that way the only injuries will be thumb blisters from overzealous refs who can no longer screw up games with bad callls.

  14. 4th and 12 from the 28… that’s a 45-yard field goal. Football just became basketball – just keep feeding your best 3-point guy until you’re caught up.

  15. So a team gets rewarded for being dominated by another team for 55 mins? Are they going to drop league standings & everyone gets into the playoffs, too? I don’t really mind the lack of kickoffs, but this “behind by 17” rule is really stupid.

  16. I’m going to watch it tonight. I’d like to see these rules played out before the NFL starts using them.

  17. “It’s a great idea”

    No its a freaking terrible idea. I’ve stopped watching most NFL games as it is and that trend will go to none if they eliminate kickoffs.

  18. spydey629 says:
    February 9, 2019 at 10:31 am
    4th and 12 from the 28… that’s a 45-yard field goal. Football just became basketball – just keep feeding your best 3-point guy until you’re caught up.
    ———————————————————————–
    It’s from their own 28, not their opponents.

  19. Because the owners basically lied in the past by not disclosing medical information they had that was critical to their employees health, they now feel vulnerable for all the risks involved with playing football. They should not feel vulnerable. They should also not be making the rules of the game. They never played, so it is ridiculous that they change the rules. The owners should make a public statement that they NEVER will withhold info regarding the safety of the game and their employees again. And that ALL rule changes will only be made with the players approval and the responsibility of the players association and therefore owners will never have the health risk responsibility in the hands of the owners again. These are football players, they know what they signed up for unless the league withholds new info again.

  20. The most important aspect of these atypical rules was not explained, i.e. how many commercials can be squeezed in between all these rule gyrations?

  21. I don’t understand why people are saying the kickoff is dead? Fine, most of them go through the end zone, but there are still plenty of situations where the kickoff can be used for strategy. Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t like the idea of starting at the 25, at all. I think it’s an awful idea. The problem right now I do see, is the new kickoff rules make it next to impossible to recover an onside kick. So, just change the rule to allow traditional formations for onside kicks only. If a team tries to kick it deep in that situation, give the receiving team the ball at the 50yd line. That will prevent any shenanigans.

    The NFL needs to stop trying to be cute to “fix” their game. Just have some “integrity” and be honest with people. If they would’ve been honest in the 70s, when they first started to discover concussions and cte, they’d be so far ahead of the game now. Instead they played chicken little and decided the sky was falling when nothing was farther from the truth. I guarantee you if the NFL came out with the concussion evidence in the 70s, the vast majority of guys would’ve kept playing, and the public still could care less. They want to be entertained. So just keep the game violent, which is what the fans want, and what the players knowingly sign up for. Lying and being cute just makes things worse.

  22. How about, instead of punting, the offensive team has the choice of going for it or having the ball moved 40 yards down field and turning the ball over to the opponent. Same with interceptions. No return even if it would be an untouched pick six. Same for fumbles, no advance. While they are at it, flags for tackles. Oh, then there could be the 4 second rule. No pass rush. If the quarterback doesn’t get rid of it in 4 seconds, it is a sack. Let’s make the game safe.

  23. Too much change for my liking. Hopefully the NFL won’t go this way.
    Gale Sayers, White Shoes Johnson, Devin Hester etc…that’s a lot of rich football history to destroy.

    I noticed the league is signing some recognizable former NFL names. Asiata, Zac Stacy, Trent Richardson, Josh Huff, Denard Robinson, Gavin Escobar etc.

  24. Why not have a drop kick (like after a safety) or a punt?
    Don’t punts have lower concussion risk than kickoffs?

    A smart approach is to substitute safer plays for dangerous ones, not just eliminate the play.

  25. How about a new football league that goes the other way and brings back good old fashioned violent football. The kind of football tha made the NFL popular to begin with.

  26. I understand that all these innovations are to make it “safer”, but aren’t these still essentially volunteers playing the game?

    People volunteer for the Army for a lot less pay and first contract is equally short, 3 or 4 years. A lot if jobs are more dangerous than football and don’t pay nearly as well. It’s just lost on me. Sorry.

  27. This reminds me of those “gimmicky ” things they do with all star games to try to make them more interesting. Doesn’t work there and this could be even worse. Here it would be taking something that’s already interesting and making it less so for no really good reason.

  28. All this because Goodell botched the negotiations over the concussion settlement to the point it’s now a bottomless slush fund for plaintiffs attorneys. His incompetence is weapons grade.

  29. I don’t understand the obsession with making this game “safe.”

    I don’t hear these same complaints from boxers or UFC fighters.

    The players already know what they are signing up for and are getting paid boatloads for it.

    If anything, make the game more violent. This sport exists because of fans wanting to see the carnage of one of the roughest sports in the world. Stop changing it or something else will come along and take it’s place.

  30. Yeah, that’s what the NFL needs… more rules that can be screwed up by incompetent refs, and have to stop play every 10 minutes to explain the rule to coaches and players.

  31. streetyson says:
    February 9, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Yeah except it’d no longer be FOOTball, it’d be handball.
    ——————–

    Good grief. 98% of American football is “handball”.

  32. This is a developmental league for the NFL. It is on the NFL Network, funded by the NFL. If they are trying these rules out in this league, you can bet that some of them will bleed into the NFL at some point in the future.

    It would seem to me that a lot of the guys playing in this league would start in the NFL as special team players if they can get into the NFL at all. Special team players who haven’t practiced kickoff returns and kickoff coverage because of AAF rules. It just seems to me that the change away from kickoffs in the NFL is inevitable, like it or not.

  33. pocketcow says:
    February 9, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t understand the obsession with making this game “safe.”

    I don’t hear these same complaints from boxers or UFC fighters.

    The players already know what they are signing up for and are getting paid boatloads for it.

    If anything, make the game more violent. This sport exists because of fans wanting to see the carnage of one of the roughest sports in the world. Stop changing it or something else will come along and take it’s place.

    —————————–

    A prime opportunity for the XFL starting in 2020. If they can bring in a few big NFL names like Adrian Peterson etc, guys who want to continue playing and earn as much as possible doing so. $350,000 a year for the XFL (compared to $250,000 for 3 years in the AAF) plus the possibilities to earn extra monies with appearances on Vince McMahon’s WWE shows should do it. Then land a big name college guy like the Clemson kid Trevor Lawrence who can’t go to the NFL early because rules prohibit. Who would rather earn money if he’s gonna play than to risk it in college for free.

    The XFL can make a good early showing of itself with some big names and old school football. Then we could have an AFL/NFL competitive situation eventually.

  34. I have a better idea..just stop tinkering around and put two Velcro flags on either hip, when the opposing team pulls one of the the flags off. The play ends at that location. Then call it flag football.

  35. I can’t possibly hate this enough. I stopped watching college football mostly because of the abomination that they made of overtime, that is a scrimmage that is no longer the game of football. Neither is beginning a possession on 4th down. After the kickoff is gone the punt will be next,then the blitz. Maybe eliminate the offensive and defensive lines. The field goal, you want to get rid of that. Maybe put a handle on the ball. Then fewer of those pesky fumbles. I’m sure that still won’t be enough.

  36. spydey629 says:
    February 9, 2019 at 10:31 am
    4th and 12 from the 28… that’s a 45-yard field goal. Football just became basketball – just keep feeding your best 3-point guy until you’re caught up.
    —————————————————

    Quite sure that they mean the other 28.
    Good Grief.

  37. But what if a team that just scored and is down by 17 points with 13 minutes left on a Saturday night while in Georgia when it’s hailing and they’re kicking into the wind against a team whose primary uniform colors are red green and purple? Oh, right, no kicking. This is the big salvation we’ve been waiting for? Sounds like stuff we made up as kids to keep a game going when you were losing.

  38. Eliminating the kickoff would be the same as getting rid of the faceoff on hockey. When a team scores the other team starts with the puck behind their net and if one team is behind then they are allowed possession of the puck for the last 5 minutes of the game. The rules would sound funny if applied to another sport where the traditional opening act of play is removed and changes of possession is dramatically altered.

  39. Why is this so difficult…allow the kicking team to kick it out of bounds and the offense takes possesion there. It brings back the chance of a coffin kick, rewards teams that can directionally kick( making good kickers valuable) and if not done well allows the recieving team to either a. begin a drive with good field position or b. have an exciting return. You still have a kickoff and lower the chance of the “dangerous” return.

  40. Yeah, give the refs even more sway over games by allowing a team to retain possession after a score by either converting a 4th and whatever or the refs just giving it to them via pretty much any defensive penalty other than offisdes or too many men on the field.

  41. mrplow3 says:
    February 9, 2019 at 10:12 am
    That’s why this league will fail. They are going forward, where many NFL fans are wanting to go backward to 80’s/90’s era football.

    This is why I think the XFL will succeed.
    ====

    If you are going to watch the XFL because they are going back to the days when no one cared about player safety and you don’t care that the players are going to be third level never were’s who not only couldn’t make it in the NFL but weren’t even good enough for the AAF, which started a year before, then you’re not a football fan, you’re just a fan of violence.

    Go watch UFC.

  42. I’m sorry but if you are happy with the current onside kick situation, then you didn’t really pay attention to what went wrong with it this year. The success rate is way down. It has always been a low possibility play but it went from 1/4 to less than 1/10. Either restore it to the previous rules or try something new. As it stands, the onside kick is nearly dead and so is the possibility of high risk/high reward/high excitement situations for teams that are behind or for teams that want to catch another team sleeping.

  43. Or you could just kick the ball. Really not sure what the big deal is. It used to be a potentially exciting part of the game.

  44. musiccitymiracle2 says:
    February 9, 2019 at 10:07 am
    Love the 4th and 15 after every score. Way too many injuries on kickoff and the rules they have implemented to avoid injuries results in too many touchbacks or pooch kickoffs, not to mention that onsides kicks are all but impossible. 4th and 15th would bring back the onside kick effect and solve the kickoff injury problem once and for all.

    Hope the NFL does this.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    People keep citing injuries on kickoffs but I’ve yet to see an actual number. I’ve seen people hurt on kickoffs on both sides of the ball but they were almost exclusively non-contact turf grab kinda thing (twisted knee/hammy). I cannot remember a specific kickoff related injury resulting from a collision. I’m sure there are some but with as much NFL football I have watched over the years it does not seem like it would be anything close to what the “experts” imply. The kickoff as it is now has strategic advantages that would be eliminated if the play was removed or altered. As it stands now kickoffs are dubbed “the most dangerous play in football”. If it is removed how long until they identify something else as the most dangerous play and then work to eliminate injury from that?

  45. I don’t mind the no kickoff, but if you do that, don’t you need to make offense and defense more important? Reward the scoring team by having the opposing team start at the 15 instead of the 25. That way it takes a real drive to score as going 50 yards takes you to the 35, which is a 52 yd fg.

  46. Telling that the NFL would consider adopting rules from a fledging professional football league that hasn’t even played a game. Nearly Finished League……

  47. just put on the Orlando game for a second. Stadium is EMPTY. One and done. XFL will never play a game

  48. That could make for an interesting use of timeouts. It may benefit the team with the lead that’s on defense to use their time-outs to keep the game clock above 5 minutes if their opponent is about to score and there is a little more than 5 on the clock and the clock is running

  49. Well I haven’t watched the Super Bowl for 4-straight years now and rules like this will make it 5,6,7 and so on.

    Adding totally made up situations to the game.

  50. If kickoffs are the injury excuse now, in a few years it will be something else causing the injuries that creates more changes.

    If injuries are truly the concern, than tackle football has to end.

    I think these changes/proposals are utter nonsense, but if that’s what the PC world wants, just end the game.

  51. Football is fading faster than the sun. I’ll keep watching until I can’t take it anymore, but sounds like that day is closer than I thought.

  52. Bring back football. No one likes injuries in the process… but its the game…it’s why the outrageous salaries are somewhat acceptable even though teachers should make more than these guys. Imagine if we just told firefighters to show up when the fire was over to avoid the risking of injury…. they’d tell you wtf…. its what i signed up for. If these guys cant deal with the risk of injury…. go find another career….that simple

  53. There’s no need to keep monkeying with the game like this. The best approach would be to change the rule imposed this past season to allow the kickoff team to line up three yards from the 35 yard line. This would still address the concern about limiting violent collisions and concussions on kickoffs, while allowing a team attempting an onside kick a better opportunity to recover. The fourth and 15 rule is garbage, and should be dismissed without further consideration.

  54. This push to eliminate kick offs and onside kicks has nothing to do with player safety. All these rule changes are all about controlling the point spread and making it easier to control the outcomes of the games.

  55. I’m sure there wouldn’t be any incompetent or suspected crooked officiating calls on those 4th and 12 plays.

  56. sammievee says:
    February 9, 2019 at 10:01 am
    I can see a 16 point lead and extra point pending with 4:58 left. Every team will take a knee rather than try to convert.

    102 16 Rate This

    Amazing how clueless football fans are, 102 likes. News flash, if you score and go up 17, you kick off. If the other team scores, you aren’t up 17 anymore. (Actually, it’s not amazing, eliminate the kickoff and you’ll have fewer yahoos who don’t know the difference between a safety and a touchback making fools of themselves.)

    And the whole close to 5 minutes idea, really? How often have you thought to yourself, “Hey were down (8 or less) points after that TD/XP, we should really do an onside kick with 4 minutes and 54 seconds to go”? Not often, I’ll bet. I doubt you will see teams do anything other than send the defense out at that point of the game.

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