What? NFL considers eliminating kickoffs?

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday December 07th, 2012

By DAN CALABRESE - Maybe tackling should be eliminated too.

If you're wondering which crazy, far-out web site I saw this on, it was NFL.com. Seriously.

Apparently Commissioner Roger Goodell is convinced kickoffs are way too much of an injury risk. That's why the NFL moved the ball from the 30-yard-line to the 35 for kickoffs last year in the hope of seeing more touchbacks and fewer returns, and thus fewer injuries. The move of the kickoffs to the 35 wasn't that big a deal. That's where kickoffs originated until nearly 20 years ago when the NFL panicked because too many field goals were being kicked.

But now . . . what's this? Apparently Goodell is seriously considering it. Really. No more kickoffs. And get a load of the new plan that's under consideration:

Even more intriguing is an alternative concept promoted by first-year Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano. Goodell met with the NFL competition committee chairman about the concept.

"After a touchdown or field goal, instead of kicking off, a team would get the ball on its own 30-yard line, where it's fourth-and-15," TIME's Sean Gregory writes. "The options are either to go for it and try to retain possession or punt. If you go for it and fall short, of course, the opposing team would take over with good field position. In essence, a punt replaces the kickoffs."

So after you score, you would actually get the ball back, albiet in a 4th-and-15 situation from deep in your own territory, which would virtually eliminate almost any consideration of going for it and trying to keep possession unless it was late in the game and you were trailing. Then that 4th-and-15 play from your own 30 would take the place of the onside kick you would have otherwise attempted.

No more onside kicks? I love onside kicks. They're among the most exciting plays in the game. But all must be sacrified because Roger Goodell doesn't want to see any more players hurt on kickoff returns. Apparently he's convinced that punt returns are much safer, and maybe he has data to back that up, but come on. Kickoffs are as much a part of football as pitches are a part of baseball. We could really cut down on injuries if we made the game two-hand touch and eliminated blocking too.

I'm all for football being made safer, but it still has to be football. Does Roger Goodell recognize that? I am not so sure. Hopefully common sense prevails, or someone sits him down and explains that there are some things you simply don't change about the game.