NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has landed on the cover of TIME magazine. The accompanying article contains plenty of interesting nuggets.
Here’s the first one that caught our eye.
Sean Gregory of TIME writes that one of the options being considered for replacing kickoffs entails giving the ball to the team that would have been kicking off at its own 30, automatically facing a fourth down and 15 yards to go. The team can then choose to punt or go for it, via fake punt or otherwise.
In other words, the kickoff would be replaced with the punt, and the onside kick would be replaced with a fourth-down conversion roughly half the distance of Ray Rice’s recent catch-and-run.
The idea would be to remove completely the high-speed, open-field collisions between large men who dip their heads instinctively at impact and place extra pressure on the C3-C4 area of the spine. While other injuries would be possible during the punt play that replaces the kickoff, the risk of catastrophic injury would be reduced.
The move also would make punters, long snappers, and gunners more important, along with punt returners. In turn, kickoff specialists would become extinct, and return specialists who are much better returning kicks than punts would be far less valuable to the broader roster.
Goodell says the idea came from Bucs coach Greg Schiano. The fact that Goodell mentioned to Gregory it means that the league is at least considering it — and that the league perhaps wants to see how folks react to the possibility.