• Flawed Logic

    The NFL is going to get rid of kickoffs some day. This has been an impending reality for about a year since the NFL released data stating the reduction of concussions on kickoffs in 2011. Even the casual fan may be familiar with the proposal stated by Roger Goodell last week. The proposal originally was presented to Goodell by Greg Schiano. Basically, the team that just scored would have the chance to try a 4th and 15 on their own 30. It would be a bad idea for the NFL to implement this rule.

    Any new rule is going to provide strategy and unintended consequences. This one seems to be completely off the mark in that it could possibly change the game while replacing a play that the NFL doesn't seem to want to be a big part of the game anymore. How could it change the game we know?

    The biggest clue comes from what type of team would actually try for the 4th and 15 play. It's pretty simple. The teams that would try for the first down would only be the elite offensive teams with a top tier quarterbacks because they could convert the play every now and then and turn the NFL into a professional version of "make it, take it" from backyard basketball. So, let's say that the Packers, Pats, Giants, Broncos and Steelers all would at least attempt the play.

    Not only would the elite offenses covert the 4th down play every now and then, they could actually have an advantage by not making the first down. How? Well, elite offenses can stomach points allowed by their defenses because they have the confidence that they can score again. Also, the opposing teams would take less plays to score points and sometimes would have to settle for less points than their counterparts. Eventually, situations would arise where the elite offenses would not only still be in the game, they would be running many more plays than their opponents, further tiring already taxed defenses.

    Imagine what Chip Kelly and other top offensive minds could do with that kind of leverage. Over time, the best teams would continue to be the best teams while any team without an elite quarterback could find themselves at a worse disadvantage than they already are now. Long-term effects of such an environment could mess with one of the words the NFL does not want to be messed with; parity.

    Look, Mr. Goodell, we get it. The kickoff is going away. Fans need to appreciate Patrick Peterson, Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs, David Wilson and all the other good returners in the league because the position won't be the same anymore. Still, Marty McFly's purchase of a sports almanac allowed a situation where Biff Tannen ran the town. Greg Schiano and Roger Goodell need to stay away from the DeLorean. Stay away from the unintended consequences. If the commissioner wants to get rid of kickoffs, just get rid of them, don't completely change the strategy of game.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      The reason for Schiano's proposal is that without the proposal, teams that are behind can't catch up late in games, which makes things interesting late in the game. If there is less than 2 minutes and the offensive team is down by more than 8 points, they have no chance to win the game, if you get rid of the kickoff as is. I think this is something the NFL wants to avoid because they want fans to stay tuned to the game as long as possible.

      Like you, I think the proposed rule change is dumb. I also think its dumb to get rid of kickoffs altogether. I get why Roger Goodell is looking at this. He sees all of these lawsuits and wants to do what he can to minimize those going forward. And I don't mind tinkering with the game to make it safer. But football by its nature is a dangerous sport. And even if you get rid of kickoffs altogether, you are going to have guys getting hurt other ways.

      I think it was George Will who mentioned this on one of the Sunday shows. NFL players are bigger, stronger, and faster. When bigger, stronger and faster guys collide you are going to have more risk of injuries. So it comes down to players being better equipped and changing how they play the game. So yes, I am fine with Goodell fining players for helmet to helmet hits, etc. You won't be able to eliminate injuries, but at least you can do what you can to minimize those.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      I actually wouldn't mind this 4th and 15 play thing as something to replace the onsides kick somehow. Maybe only allow it during the final two minutes of the game. I dunno. As much I don't want to get rid of kickoffs, I just don't see how it won't eventually happen.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      In rugby, the team that scored receives the ensuing kickoff.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      I'm annoyed that this keeps being called a 'Goodell' proposal. It is not. In an article about safety and what is being done to make the NFL safer for players, Roger brought up that Greg Schiano of the Bucs made this proposal. While we here have mentioned this, the mainstream sports media is forgetting to say this.

      Why did Schiano make the proposal. Because, first of all, kickoffs are the most dangerous play in football, as injury statistics bear out. Second of all, two or three years ago at Rutgers, he saw one of his players paralyzed on a kickoff! It was only a year or two earlier, that a Bill was seriously hurt on the opening kickoff, against, I think it was, the Colts. He could have died, except that the game was in Buffalo, which has a world class head trauma center, and everything was done right. At the stadium, the medevac, and the hospital.

      Like many people, I don't want the kickoff to go away. But, just last year, BB suggested we get rid of it, and now Schiano has said the same thing. And, if I have to choose between no football, or football with no kickoff, I'll take the kickoff behind the barn and shoot it myself. Make no mistake, the largest threat to football is the risk of serious injury - at the High School level. Anything the NFL can do to set a safety example is something I support.