OT: Goodell has discussed eliminating kickoffs in the NFL

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on December 6th, 2012 at 4:18 PM


Roger Goodell recently discussed the possibility of eliminating kickoffs with the head of the NFL's competition committee.  Even more interestingly, they talked about Greg Schiano's suggestion that a team that scores should have, after its extra point try, essentially a 4th and 15 at their own 30 yard line, from which they can either punt or try to win another possession by getting the 15 yards. 

I like Schiano's idea because it would add to the excitement of the game by allowing for more comebacks.  I also think that organized football faces an enormous threat to its existence as we know it because of the research that is coming out about concussions, so something has to be done, and it might as well be a fun something.   What do you say? 

EDIT:  Further info:  There were 270 reported concussions in the NFL in 2010, 35 of which were on kickoffs.  There were 266 reported concussions in the NFL in 2011, 20 of which were on kickoffs.  The drop in concussions on kickoffs coincided with the move of the kickoff line from the 30 to the 35, which increased touchbacks.




December 6th, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

Personally, I say leave it alone. It's how football has been played for many years. I don't like changes like this. Moving the ball up 5 yards was fine, I guess, but eliminating kickoffs all together is too much. 

Edit: Is 24 too early of an age to say, GET OFF MY LAWN!?


December 6th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

It is one thing to say leave it alone sitting out here in Mgoblog land, but quite another thing when the league you represent is the defendant in an action filed by 2000 former players.

The NFL has a problem that may not lend itself to a quick fix.  Players are bigger, faster, stronger and you can only attenuate so many G's with technology.

While college football is not in the conversation, yet, I believe it is only a question of time.


December 6th, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

gets to have the ball immediately for another attempt at a possession? Just how in God's name is that going to make comebacks any more likely than it will make routs even bigger? I can see Tom Brady's eyes lighting up already—a really good offense might maintain possession for an entire half of football.

If they want to cut down on concussions, do away with the extensive facemasks and suspend players who lead with their heads.


December 6th, 2012 at 6:55 PM ^

If you've got a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, etc. you might be tempted to go for it a bit more.  You either need a completed pass or a defensive penalty.  In this day and age, pass interference is a fairly common penalty. 

You get a QB who's a decent punter and maybe you send your offense out there and have your QB punt. 


December 6th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

Also, reduce the hours players can practice.  Try to at least slow down the creation of so many massive 300+ pound guys who move at high speeds.  That real injury risks are the size and speed of modern players, they need to find ways to reduce that.  I remember how William Perry was considered massive in his career, now we consider 335 to be a decent starting weight for a college lineman.  


December 6th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

What I think is left out of a lot of the concussion talks is just what you point to:  size and speed, some of which comes from PEDs.  The NFL sure looks to me to be full of steroids and HGH, and getting rid of that (as much as you can) would help reduce the force of the collisions between the players. 


December 6th, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

This proposal is essentially the same as an onside kick. The only difference is now you're asking your offense to do something improbable and difficult (or your defense to stop it) as opposed to your kicker and special teams.

I'm all for this idea, but it strikes me as one of those "this is way too good of an idea for it to actually happen" kind of things.


December 7th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

The only time a team would risk a 4th and 15 from their own 30 is when they are behind, hence the greater opportunity for comebacks.  Hard to imagine a team doing it while ahead.  Also on average the field postion from the punt will probably be better than from the kickoff.

I do however strongly agree with you on the facemasks and head leading.


December 6th, 2012 at 4:25 PM ^

I'd be for eliminating kickoffs after field goals..it seems like such a production after scoring only 3 points...just give the team the ball at the 25 yardline and be done with it.


December 6th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

Roger Goodell is a lunatic.  His disciplinary policies (for football hits, not for off-field stuff) and rules changes have totally made the NFL unwatchable for me.  This guy is Gary Bettman's dumber brother. 


December 6th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

I understand the reasoning behind this...

Actually, no I do no. Leave the game alone. You did not create the game of football. You can make it safer, but taking out a huge part of the game? No. Your job is not to completely change the game.


December 6th, 2012 at 9:46 PM ^

Up until the 1990s, "bump and run" was legal in the NFL. Up until the 1970s, offensive lineman couldn't use their hands to block - so pass blocking was crazy hard. Up until the 1950s, substitution restrictions made almost ever player a two-way player.

I won't reach back into the 19th century to show further changes, but football was a very different game even just forty years ago - when Bo and Woody started their ten year war. I'm not saying that's a reason to allow this change (although I don't think it's a bad idea), but I disagree with your reasoning that the game isn't allowed to change. It already has changed, and it will again.


December 7th, 2012 at 12:32 AM ^

I'd argue that the changes that have occurred HAVE been major. The way increased protection for wide receivers completely changed the game. It wasn't just talent that has made offenses much more productive now than in the past.

I tend to be a traditionalist but if it's choosing between the way it is now and eliminating kickoffs may as well eliminate them since they are essentially gone anyways. Especially if it can reduce some concussions


December 6th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

Are their any studies or data to support that a disproportionate share of football concussions incur during kick-off's?  If so then yes, they will probably need to do something but if there is such data I've never seen it.  

I wonder if this isn't more of a CYA move on the NFL's part than a actual attempt to fix the problem.  Candidly, if they cant stop players from leading with their head on tackles (and that truly represents the vast majority of concussions) then they should take the helmets off entirely. Trust me - nobody is going to want to lead with their head anymore if that happens.


December 6th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^


There were 270 reported concussions in the NFL in 2010, and 35 of them were on kickoffs.  If my math is right, that means that almost 13% of concussions that year were on kickoffs, and kickoffs cannot have accounted for 13% of total plays (though I admittedly don't have that number). 


Here, FWIW, Smithsonian.com refers to the kickoff as "football's most dangerous play," though they admittedly don't cite statistics:  http://www.boston.com/sports/football/2012/08/07/study-new-rule-reduced-concussions-kickoffs/kxCtMRaOEvaONDS35r5rOM/story.html

From a study on h.s. football:

  • 32.7% of injuries on kickoffs and punts were “severe” (defined as 21 or more missed days), compared to 19.3% on other plays.
  • 20.3% of injuries on kickoffs and punts were concussions, compared to 10.9% on other plays.



December 6th, 2012 at 4:58 PM ^

If you're going to start using FACTS in this debate then I'm calling it quits.  I thought we were having a nice friendly discussion about something where we simply state opinions and don't have to back them up in any way.

Seriously though - like you I had always heard they were more dangerous but had never seen any conclusive data to support that supposition.  You have now provided some -thanks!



December 6th, 2012 at 6:39 PM ^

I hear that a lot - but not well thought out.

Replace concussion with broken jaw, teeth, nose, gouged eyes?

Bone to bone contact will create a concussion too. How do boxers get knocked out with no helmets?

Really - there has to be a game ejection (NO PAY) for helmet to helmet no exceptions, inadvertant or not. No tolerance will stop it. Right now only the QB gets that protection but the fines are not enough.

Can you imagine a 1 game suspension no pay? Suh makes $9.25M a year. A one game NO PAY ejection would be 1/17 * 9.25 = $540,000 fine. That would stop it - period.

I hate the lazy flying tackles without wrapping up. Proper form is helmet on the ball.



December 6th, 2012 at 9:22 PM ^

I agree with most of what you're saying. There is a lot of poor tackling in the NFL, and other than with QBs a form tackle usually keeps defensive players from getting penalties. But my one concern with these fines and penalties is this - why is it okay for a running back to run full speed with his head down? A form tackle would almost certainly have the tackler taking the brunt of head-to-head contact. An ankle-bite is probably the only way to take that man down without head-to-head contact, and is a high-risk play since you're essentially making a low-flying tackle with little chance of wrapping up. But you'd never see that running back can penalized, and honestly I'd be pretty angry if he did get penalized for "running hard." Yet at the same time, the NFL is not protecting their defensive (and less marketable) players.

I'm not saying the helmet-to-helmet rule should go away, but I think ejecting players is too extreme.


December 6th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

Kickoffs can be one of the most exciting plays in the sport. Wouldn't it be crazy to think 15 years ahead, watching a highlight of the Cal-Stanford miracle with your kids, and them being all like "what the fuck is that?"


December 6th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

If we really want to be safe, we eliminate the sport so the players can all get regular jobs. The players should be polled to see if that's what they want to do. I'm pretty sure I know the outcome.

Johnny Blood

December 6th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

The only thing that even makes me remotely think this might be a good idea is the seemingly disproportionate amount of penalties there are on kickoffs.  I watched a game a few weeks back where it felt like there was a penalty on every single kickoff -- after a while, it sort of becomes pointless.

But if this is meant to address the concussion issue, I don't think that if you did a pareto analysis of causes of concussion that kickoffs would top the list.