Bud Grant urges NFL to change rules to reduce kneeldowns, fair catches, touchbacks

Oakland Raiders v Minnesota Vikings
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Hall of Fame former Vikings coach Bud Grant is, at 95, almost as old as the NFL itself. But he’s not done offering suggestions for how the league can improve quality of play.

Grant told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he wants to take out the boring parts of every game, specifically kneeldowns at the end of the game, fair catches on punts and touchbacks on kickoffs.

“I would complain to people about the idea that when the trailing team was out of timeouts, the quarterback starts kneeling down and the fans are leaving,” Grant said. The answer always was, ‘There’s nothing that can be done about it.’ I kept thinking about it and decided, ‘Yes, there is. The team on offense has to make a yard — 1 yard — or the clock stops. A few things can happen when trying to make a yard. You can get stuffed. You can fumble. You can get a penalty. And you keep the fans interested.”

Grant, a four-time Grey Cup winner who is also in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, also wants the NFL to follow the CFL’s lead on punts.

“I attended enough meetings to know the NFL wants to avoid admitting Canadian football has a better idea about anything. Yet, they should follow Canada and take away the fair catch,” Grant said. “There’s no fair catch in Canada, but the coverage also has to give the returner 5 yards. NFL people hear this and they’ll say, ‘It will increase injuries.’ The 5-yard cushion makes all the difference. My opinion is there won’t be a real increase in injuries, and the punt would become an interesting play.”

Grant also wants to disincentivize touchbacks on kickoffs.

“Why bother, if your goal is to make the kickoff the most-nothing play in football? They say it’s about safety. Injuries happen on every play,” Grant said. “They have made several changes on the way you can block on the kickoff. They can keep those. But you wait three minutes through a timeout, they come back, kick off, walk the ball out to 25. It’s ridiculous. Move the kickoff back 5 yards [to the 30], and if you don’t bring it out, you don’t get rewarded with the 25. You get the ball at the 15.”

Unfortunately for Grant, the NFL has prioritized injury reduction in its rules changes, and kickoffs and punts are at the top of the list of plays the NFL wants to make safer. Which means there’s really no chance of Grant’s rules being implemented. And Grant’s proposal for eliminating kneeldowns could also increase injuries late in games. So it’s safe to say the NFL won’t be bringing Grant on as a rules consultant, no matter how passionate he is for adding to the sport’s entertainment value.

66 responses to “Bud Grant urges NFL to change rules to reduce kneeldowns, fair catches, touchbacks

  1. I know this might be unpopular, but I think these adjustments improve the game…

  2. Wow. Hey…think how exciting it would be if we got rid of facemasks as well. And brought back the clothesline tackle. That would really add to the excitement of the sport as well.

  3. When I first started reading this, I thought, “why not give everybody a club, too?” but then I found myself liking his suggestions, especially the one about the 15 yard line. The 25 is very generous IMO.

  4. Excellent suggestions, those types of plays don’t have much sports or entertainment value. We have already decided as a society that injury risk is acceptable when the resulting product is worth the risk, and quality sports competition has been decided to be worth it, therefore the tradeoffs of these new types of changes would result in these new types of plays being no different than any of the other competitive plays that are also worth it.

    If adjustments increase the value of the final end product, then they must at least be considered.

  5. I’ve said for yrs, a kickoff bounces and goes out of bounds anywhere, that’s where it is put in play. (As long as it has traveled 10 yds)

    To flag a KO for going out of bounds is stupid it is part of the game ie, the receiving team should have fielded it and continued as if it were a live play.

    So if it goes out of bounds at the 3 yd line then good, if it goes out of bounds at the 45 ok


  6. I’m down with Bud. Perform a ‘boring-ectomy’ on the dull parts of the game–especially 5 minute breaks to look at replays over and over, and you’re still not sure if they’ll actually end up making the right call anyway…

  7. “The NFL has prioritized injury reduction in its rules changes” — excuse me while I laugh my butt off.

  8. I hope Bud isn’t hanging around waiting for his Vikings to win a world championship. He’ll be walking the earth longer than Dracula.

  9. Great Suggestions. Unfortunately that style of football isn’t played anymore. He coached while life was much simpler and football was football.

  10. They’re actually great suggestions… and it’s never been about safety in the NFL…. just litigation..

  11. The clock stops if you don’t gain yardage is interesting as hell. Won’t get approved but would make end of game more interesting

  12. I read the headline and thought, wow, Bud Grant is alive? Good for him.

  13. It sounds like you all just want to say that Bud is old. But he acknowledges that we are trying to reduce injuries and argues that these changes wouldn’t increase them. Maybe you should acknowledge that point before you try to turn the narrative to “old man wants sport to be more dangerous because old.”

  14. It’s great to hear from Bud Grant. With all due respect, the NFL is more popular than ever, and raking in record revenues and profits every year. If I changed anything on punt and kickoff returns, it would be all the penalty flags. And the kneeling thing he’s recommending getting rid of would change the game too much. Keeping in mind NFL football is the most popular form of entertainment on the planet right now, I’m not changing the game that drastically. When Bud talks about fan interest, he must not be looking at the same revenue numbers I’m looking at. When he talks about how great the CFL is compared to the NFL, that isn’t supported by facts. However, if interest and revenue should ever decline, then I’d look at ways to make the game better. But that’s a big if. So far, it hasn’t been the case. By the way, how much do you think the Denver Broncos will sell for? I rest my case.

  15. If the NFL were truly interested in reducing injuries, it would go back to a 12-game season instead of increasing it from 16 to 17 games. And soon to be 18.

  16. Adding a few more plays at the end of a game is too dangerous, but adding AN ENTIRE GAME to the season is just fine.

  17. I was totally ready to snipe on these ideas and then lo and behold they’re actually really good ideas. The one yard to stop the clock is especially good.

  18. Get rid of the coin toss.
    Put the football on the 50.
    Each team lines up a guy at the 35.
    Blow the whistle.
    [I would love to have seen Troy Polamalu in this scenario]

  19. Good old Bud. These are decent ideas, I doubt anything will come of it. I just hope in 40 years, if I’m still on this planet, I’ll be as coherent as coach Grant.

  20. Love the ideas, the only problem I see with gaining 1 yard, is the constant measurements that would in effect, be time-outs.

  21. The CFL also uses replay for Pass Interference and it works well. I’ve always found that amazing. The league worth billions just can’t figure it out while the league worth barely millions includes PI review in it’s rules.

  22. there are reasons none of Bud’s teams won the Super Bowl;

    lack of discretion is high on the list;

  23. blastodermman says:
    May 21, 2022 at 11:43 am
    Wow. Hey…think how exciting it would be if we got rid of facemasks as well. And brought back the clothesline tackle. That would really add to the excitement of the sport as well.

    Let’s remove the pads and tackling. Let’s turn it into flag football. That would really reduce injuries.

  24. The idea makes to much sense coming from a old school legend. Still has those steel blue eyes.

  25. Before the Arena League folded, all plays had to be positive yardage within the last 2 minutes of the game or the clock stopped . It eliminates kneel downs.

  26. Grant set the record for choking in Super Bowls. The NFL should name the SB runner-up trophy the “Grand Award”.

  27. I agree with him but it will never happen. NFL is too worried about concussion and injury lawsuits.

  28. I especially like the no kneel down rule. Forces the team in the lead to actually finish off their opponent instead of letting the clock do it for you.

  29. Bud what’s your though on offsides, game would be pretty exciting without it, thanks I’ll hang up and listen

  30. Grant set the record for choking in Super Bowls. The NFL should name the SB runner-up trophy the “Grand Award
    Marv Levy would disagree.

  31. One of the greatest coaches of all time. If anyone is entitled to having his football opinions heard, it’s guys like Bud Grant. He rarely lost any game by being out-coached. In his big games the players let him down, not vice-versa. The trophy could’ve been named for him……”if only.” Love that guy.

  32. I love the old coach! he can still kick some butt and those are all pretty good ideas hence the NFL will never even consider them.

  33. Why not just go all in there Bud, and introduce “Thunderdome” rules for overtime.

  34. Good suggestions and articulated stated for someone who is nearly 100

  35. Honor the man !!! And call all 3 rules the The BUD GRANT rules! Loved watching him coach

  36. Dude is sharper than I’d expect for a 95 year old. Like every idea I have to say.

  37. If the NFL wants to minimize injuries expand the team rosters. When a team is way ahead they have bench players to put on the field. Saves reps in the starters. Plus you have more players to put on the field hence less plays per players.

    They already have a salary cap. Just eliminate the limits on roster sizes.

  38. Bud is a legend in Minnesota. Comes out in a t shirt when it’s 15 out.

  39. Is this a good time to mention the proposal to eliminate kickoffs and institute a fourth and 15 rule after a score? Combined with the change proposals to the fair catch, it would really add a lot of excitement to the game.

  40. Thank you for the story. I had no clue that Bud Grant was still alive. Reading this story made my day.

  41. Love Bud Grant. He was one coach of the 6 or 7 who backed BB during Framegate I, exposing Goodell’s cheating.

  42. yooperman says:
    May 21, 2022 at 5:02 pm
    Grant set the record for choking in Super Bowls. The NFL should name the SB runner-up trophy the “Grand Award”.

    142Rate This


    Actually, that award goes to the Bills’ Marvy Levy. Those games were mortifying blowouts except for the wide right game.

  43. Bud Grant won four Grey Cups and lost another two (6 Grey Cups total) in ten years as coach of Winnipeg of the CFL. Great coach. Not just a nice guy. Bud may have lost some Super Bowls, but he was never out-coached.

  44. Todays football is all prim and proper.
    These guys today would never make a full season back in the 60’s and 70’s

  45. Love the ideas. Just a heads up, if Grant never coached a game in the NFL, his career would be one for the books of sports legends. Lettered 9x in 3 sports (football, basketball and baseball) at the U of Minnesota and played two sports professionally (football and basketball). The guy was a stud athlete.

  46. Not every play has to be exciting though. Sometimes being smart isn’t exciting but it works.

  47. Just a heads up, if Grant never coached a game in the NFL, his career would be one for the books of sports legends…played two sports professionally (football and basketball).
    He played two seasons in the NBA averaged under 5 minutes a game. He also played 2 seasons in the NFL.

    Being a sports legend requires a bit more than that – and the coaching career provided it.

  48. Bud is right (and he remains sharp, BTW). Glad it got some wider visibility than just local. Be nice if this got spread-around even more widely.

    Tell me he’s not correct about what’s boring And safe. I’m a cheeser and that man’s teams wrecked my childhood fandom–but I will Always respect him.

  49. “The 25 is very generous IMO.”

    Ridiculously generous as it’s basically the average spot real returns make it to. If you don’t have a dynamic return guy your team really should never bring a ball out of the end zone which is just incredibly boring.

  50. Changing a touchback to the 20 yard line instead of the 25 would result in more kickoff returns, which would be a good thing. And Bud’s idea about punts is good too, and I don’t see that resulting in more injuries. I’d also be in favor of having the clock stop on a kneel-down, which would eliminate it as an end-of-game/half tactic.

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