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Kickoff Solution: Memo To Goodell |
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2/8/16 9:53 AM
Back in 2011, amidst pending concussion lawsuits, the NFL office decided that one of the things that would help cover themselves would be to move the kickoffs up five yards so that there would be many more touchbacks (nonplays--waste of time) and therefore less injuries occurring on these high-collision/pileup events. So there are fewer of these, indeed, but the safety measure is still a half-ass solution.
There are still kickoff returns. Here's what I'd do: When a team scores, have a puntoff instead. The team that scored does not give up possession--they have not lost it anyway. Have the scoring team scrimmage from its' 35 yard line with a fourth down and 20 yard situation assigned to them. This would almost always result in a standard punt play.
Because the punt dynamic is quite different than the kickoff dynamic, there is no safety controversy attached to it. Then I would adopt Canadian football rules that further protect player safety. To wit: Players going downfield to tackle the return man must stay at least five yards away from him when he receives the ball. Fair catches (nonplays) are eliminated by this.
Players used to be able to go in formation to one side of the field for onside kicks, but that was outlawed for safety reasons. Still, the onside kick is not very safe, as the recovery man can get nailed while reaching high for a bouncing kick and pileups are common. So the "puntoff"/fourth and 20 situation is both safer and perhaps mimicks the percentage of recovering an onside kick to retain possession.
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