The NFL is looking into the idea of eliminating kickoffs, proposing a drastic change to replace it.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has discussed the idea with Rich McKay, the head of the league’s competition committee, Time magazine reported.
The idea to eliminate kickoffs came from Greg Schiano, the first-year coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who came from Rutgers with a reputation for his outside-the-box approaches.
As ESPN noted, Schiano’s idea is to give the team that would be kicking off the ball on the 30-year line in a fourth-and-15 situation. The team can try to convert and keep the ball — replacing what would have been an onside kick — or can punt the ball back to their opponent.
“The fact is, it’s a much different end of the play,” Goodell said during the meeting, according to Time.
Schiano has good cause to want to see a change in NFL kickoffs. When he was coaching at Rutgers, his player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed after taking a hit during a kickoff. Before this season the NFL moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line in an effort to cut down on the number of returns and make the game safer for players.
Schiano told ESPN The Magazine in September that one day kickoffs could be eliminated entirely.
“I believe that day will come. Unfortunately, it will probably take more players being seriously hurt. But I think there’s another way to do this.”
The move to change NFL kickoffs seemed to meet its goal of making the game safer, the Elias Sports Bureau found. Last year the percentage of kickoffs that led to touchbacks increased to 43.5 percent from 16.4 percent. ESPN The Magazine also found that players suffered 40 percent fewer concussions on kickoffs in 2011.