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  1. #1
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    New NFL Rule Being Discussed?? No kickoffs!

    Apparently the rule is being discussed by Roger Goodell, as reported here. Still, the way it would work seems like a misprint, or else I'm just not understanding what they're saying at all. Anyone else make sense of this?

    Seems to me that if they want to eliminate kickoffs, fine, just have the opposing team start with the ball on their 30 yard line and that's that, right? Would change the roster makeup a bit, and change the flow of the game a little, but if it would reduce concussions significantly, that's OK with me.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommy View Post
    Apparently the rule is being discussed by Roger Goodell, as reported here. Still, the way it would work seems like a misprint, or else I'm just not understanding what they're saying at all. Anyone else make sense of this?

    Seems to me that if they want to eliminate kickoffs, fine, just have the opposing team start with the ball on their 30 yard line and that's that, right? Would change the roster makeup a bit, and change the flow of the game a little, but if it would reduce concussions significantly, that's OK with me.
    TMQ on espn.com proposed something even more radical a couple years ago, and when I stepped back and thought about it, I kind of liked it. Eliminate kicking entirely. No extra points, field goals, punts, or kickoffs. Make each touchdown worth 1, or 7, points, doesn't matter. Start the first possession on the 25 or 30. That way you'd have all teams going for it on every fourth down, you would avoid the most dangerous plays in the game (kickoffs and punts), and you wouldn't have a 60 minute struggle between two teams of massively athletic juggernauts decided by whether or not a skinny guy from somewhere in Europe could kick a ball through a target from 50 yards away.

    When you think about it, the kicking game is an odd anomaly in football. Even the name football is weird. 90 percent of the game is based on running, throwing, and catching, and then suddenly we switch over to the occasional play requiring someone to kick the ball.

    Throw out the kicking game entirely, and change the name (allowing soccer, a game played with the feet, to finally take it's proper name). Football without the feet, played by manly men.

    Call it Manball!

    Wait, maybe not...
    Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tommy View Post
    Apparently the rule is being discussed by Roger Goodell, as reported here. Still, the way it would work seems like a misprint, or else I'm just not understanding what they're saying at all. Anyone else make sense of this?

    Seems to me that if they want to eliminate kickoffs, fine, just have the opposing team start with the ball on their 30 yard line and that's that, right? Would change the roster makeup a bit, and change the flow of the game a little, but if it would reduce concussions significantly, that's OK with me.
    They do want to eliminate kickoffs, but want to keep the option for the kicking team to take a low-percentage chance at keeping possesion. So the kicking team will face a 4th and 15, and can either punt or go for it. Instead of a wide-open kickoff, teams will punt. And instead of the possibility of an onside kick, there will be the possibility of going for it needing 15 yards to keep the ball.
    Demented and sad, but social, right?

  4. #4
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    All these changes are fabulous. Football is so broken and unpopular right now, what it really needs is a radical departure from the game as it currently stands. Make changes that will ripple down all the way through kiddie football, Yup, that is the most logical thing I have ever heard.

    Now, if football were hugely successful and everyone was making so much money they didn't know what to do with all of it then I would think tinkering with it in such radical ways was a bad idea. But, luckily, that is not even close to the case here.

    -Jason "I think I made my point" Evans
    Don't ask me why, but my mother is making me Tweet. Says it will be good for my career. So, follow my ramblings, mostly on the film industry, @TVFilmTalk

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    All these changes are fabulous. Football is so broken and unpopular right now, what it really needs is a radical departure from the game as it currently stands. Make changes that will ripple down all the way through kiddie football, Yup, that is the most logical thing I have ever heard.

    Now, if football were hugely successful and everyone was making so much money they didn't know what to do with all of it then I would think tinkering with it in such radical ways was a bad idea. But, luckily, that is not even close to the case here.

    -Jason "I think I made my point" Evans
    Let's assume that every decision the owners make is driven by money.

    Let's further assume that they are concerned about massive contingent liability. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit brought by current and former employees. Something to do with injuries.

    Let's further assume that facts revealed in the lawsuit could lead to, shall we say, negative publicity. Negative publicity that might dampen public enthusiasm for the sport.

    Maybe it is in the owners' best financial interest to at least put on a show of doing everything they can to protect the welfare of their employees.

  6. #6
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    Bernie Miklasz was talking about this this morning on his show, and people wrote in, and one point someone made was this would really distort the game as it is because eliminating kickoffs would eliminate the onsides kickoff. He described it as "most most exciting play in the game," and I'm not sure whether I agree or disagree with that, but it is a structural part of the game that allows

    1) Trailing teams some recourse after they score, to try to get the ball back
    2) The element of surprise

    It's a great play--high risk/high reward.

    A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
    ---Roger Ebert


    Some questions cannot be answered
    Who’s gonna bury who
    We need a love like Johnny, Johnny and June
    ---Over the Rhine

  7. #7
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    How about allowing kickoffs to go out-of-bounds without penalty? You'd still have returns but you'd introduce new skill and strategy elements. Why are OOB kickoffs illegal anyway, when OOB punts aren't?

    I've long wanted to get rid of the opening tipoff in basketball. Just let the designated visitng team inbound the ball and use the possession arrow after that.
    Between me and every ideal I always find Scheisskopfs, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal. -- Joseph Heller

  8. #8
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    Los Angeles
    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    Bernie Miklasz was talking about this this morning on his show, and people wrote in, and one point someone made was this would really distort the game as it is because eliminating kickoffs would eliminate the onsides kickoff. He described it as "most most exciting play in the game," and I'm not sure whether I agree or disagree with that, but it is a structural part of the game that allows

    1) Trailing teams some recourse after they score, to try to get the ball back
    2) The element of surprise

    It's a great play--high risk/high reward.
    If we're going to mess with some rules to improve safety but not sacrifice fun or strategy, but about a rule that says if you want to on-sides kick, you have to announce it in advance. Once you do that, each team is allowed only 7 guys on the field for that play. And you have to on-sides kick it. Benefits: more space on the field between guys, less collisions, less injuries, better chance for the ball to be bouncing around and guys getting after it -- more fun, and allows trailing team a little better chance to get the ball back. Downside: no surprise element.

  9. #9
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    Hot'Lanta... home of sports teams that disappoint in the playoffs
    All the rules that eliminate the element of surprise from the onside kick are bad in my mind. The surprise onside, which probably only happens 3 or 4 times in an entire season, is a ton of fun. Fans are constantly thinking about it, even though most coaches rarely consider it.

    -Jason "has anyone seen data on concussions and injuries on kickoffs and punts versus the rest of the game? I don't perceive it as being that much more dangerous... but I could be wrong" Evans
    Don't ask me why, but my mother is making me Tweet. Says it will be good for my career. So, follow my ramblings, mostly on the film industry, @TVFilmTalk

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    All the rules that eliminate the element of surprise from the onside kick are bad in my mind. The surprise onside, which probably only happens 3 or 4 times in an entire season, is a ton of fun. Fans are constantly thinking about it, even though most coaches rarely consider it.

    -Jason "has anyone seen data on concussions and injuries on kickoffs and punts versus the rest of the game? I don't perceive it as being that much more dangerous... but I could be wrong" Evans
    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/83...-espn-magazine

    In college football, for instance, 1 in 5 injuries during kickoffs is a concussion; during other phases of play, it's 1 out of 14.
    This makes sense on multiple levels and it would make sense that it would be worse in the NFL b/c in the NFL, the players are faster and stronger. But on a normal play, you have only several yards to get up to speed. Most time, linebackers and running backs only get a few yards head start up the middle and if the play is outside, the collisions are rarely head on and more grazing. The only other play where you have 2 guys running at or near full speed towards each other is the defenseless receiver which the game has also tried to get rid of.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    All the rules that eliminate the element of surprise from the onside kick are bad in my mind. The surprise onside, which probably only happens 3 or 4 times in an entire season, is a ton of fun. Fans are constantly thinking about it, even though most coaches rarely consider it.

    -Jason "has anyone seen data on concussions and injuries on kickoffs and punts versus the rest of the game? I don't perceive it as being that much more dangerous... but I could be wrong" Evans
    There were a LOT more injuries before the moved it up and eliminated the wedge. Wedges and wedge busters led to TONS of injuries back in the day. That collision was the most dangerous play in all of sports.
    LET'S GO DUKE!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by davekay1971 View Post
    Even the name football is weird. 90 percent of the game is based on running, throwing, and catching, and then suddenly we switch over to the occasional play requiring someone to kick the ball.

    Throw out the kicking game entirely, and change the name (allowing soccer, a game played with the feet, to finally take it's proper name). Football without the feet, played by manly men.

    Just a few points about the names "football" and "soccer".

    American football, Rugby, soccer, Aussie football, etc, are all related games - chimpanzees and humans to a common ancestor, as it were. They're all derived from earlier games all called football (or "foteball") as early as the 14th century. Why it's called "foot"ball is not totally provable, but it may be that football was distinguished from horse-riding sports; the "foot" distinction was not about using feet to kick a ball, but rather that the players are all on their feet. Alternatively, there is also evidence that the more straightforward and literal explanation is valid: it was distinguished from "handball" and "hockey" in that feet are used to manipulate a ball.

    Fast forward a few centuries, as societies congealed and specific forms of rules were codified. Several competing rules began to evolve. In the 19th century, different clubs and schools formed the Football Association, in part to harmonize and codify rules for the game. This form of football became known as "association football" and is the game most of the world calls football and Americans call soccer. One school in Rugby, England codified its own set of rules for a popular local variant, and hence "Rugby Football".

    So, now in the late 19th century, we have several forms of football being played: among those are Rugby Football and Association Football. The former would be popularly refered to as "rugby" and the latter simply football, or using an Oxford slang popular at the time: "soccer" (assoc + "er"). (Rugby incidentally, was also refered to as "rugger")

    With the British colonization of the world, various forms of football developed around the globe, including American football, Australian rules football, etc. Use of the word "soccer" began in England, but for some reason survives in the US, but not where the term was invented. My guess is simply that American football was more popular in the early 20th century in the US, so that is what people thought of when they refered football. They held on to the term "soccer" to distinguish it from "football," a now very different game.

  13. #13
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    Washington, D.C.
    It has Begun. The threat to the NFL is not from lawsuits against it. Rather, the threat to the NFL are lawsuits against unicversities, colleges, high schools and their school districts. Check out Real Sports on HBO. The lawsuits have begun. A guy from a small college who had been accepted at Princeton and I believe also Yale but went to this school to play football, has serious impairment to his learning, retension and memory abilities due to football at his school. The college refused to even help defray his medical/rehabilative expenses and he has sued them. Once a high school district or County or single school gets sued and loses, can you say "Goodnight Gracie." Reply: "Good Night George."(Geore Burns and Gracie Allen, the Gracie and Alloen show)

    When schoool districts even have to try to defend such lawsuits, they will be constrained to cave, to settle for big money, and will either terminate the sport entirely or substantially, and I do mean substantially, change it so you will destroy the mega buck industry that is the NFL and also Big Time College Football. Once these lawsuits really get going against small colleges, I think dramatic reforms in the football that these schools play will necessarily follow, and many will drop the sport entirely.

    The NFL is trying to put a finger in the dike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by roywhite View Post
    ...
    Can football helmets be engineered to reduce risk of concussions for players who are bigger, stronger, faster?
    Football helmet technology has evolved dramatically in 20 years, and the gear can absorb much more punishment.

    Concussions seem to be more frequent--and not just because people are more aware than they used to be. The theory is that players are bigger and faster AND that the helmets make them feel invulnerable.

    One way to reduce injuries would be to get rid of helmets and just go back to the gear from the 1920's. Players would look more like rugby guys, but my understanding is that a linebacker would be much less likely to spear a quarterback's head with his own face. Even if they didn't care about pain, they'd be sidelined until their own bleeding stopped. Ie, in regards to helmets as with much else, Less is more...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    One way to reduce injuries would be to get rid of helmets and just go back to the gear from the 1920's. Players would look more like rugby guys, but my understanding is that a linebacker would be much less likely to spear a quarterback's head with his own face. Even if they didn't care about pain, they'd be sidelined until their own bleeding stopped. Ie, in regards to helmets as with much else, Less is more...
    You'd have to change a lot of other rules as well. For instance, in rugby, you can't hit an airborne player. That would greatly change the passing game. You aren't allowed to hit someone without a clear attempt to wrap the player up, and you aren't allowed to hit a player high. The NFL is working to eliminate the latter of these, but the wrapping up would be a change in the rules as well.

    Removing the helmets (and presumably most of the other pads) would change the way people block and tackle. That might reduce concussions (it might not if defenders are still allowed to make contact with airborne/unsuspecting receivers), but it may also introduce a lot of other consequences as well. Stopping an offense within 10 yards in 3-4 downs might get much more difficult. Conversely, short-yardage plays could take an entirely different look (not sure which side would be favored).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    Football helmet technology has evolved dramatically in 20 years, and the gear can absorb much more punishment.

    Concussions seem to be more frequent--and not just because people are more aware than they used to be. The theory is that players are bigger and faster AND that the helmets make them feel invulnerable.

    One way to reduce injuries would be to get rid of helmets and just go back to the gear from the 1920's. Players would look more like rugby guys, but my understanding is that a linebacker would be much less likely to spear a quarterback's head with his own face. Even if they didn't care about pain, they'd be sidelined until their own bleeding stopped. Ie, in regards to helmets as with much else, Less is more...
    My proposal is to put a sensor in the top of helmets which would trigger an electric shock through electrodes to a "sensitive" area of the person's anatomy. This would make it obvious to officials and fans as to the identity of the offending player, and I dare say it would severely and immediately stop the helmet hits. (One drawback of this would be that opposing players may give a congratulatory tap to an opposing player after a good play.)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    You'd have to change a lot of other rules as well. For instance, in rugby, you can't hit an airborne player. That would greatly change the passing game. You aren't allowed to hit someone without a clear attempt to wrap the player up, and you aren't allowed to hit a player high. The NFL is working to eliminate the latter of these, but the wrapping up would be a change in the rules as well.

    Removing the helmets (and presumably most of the other pads) would change the way people block and tackle. That might reduce concussions (it might not if defenders are still allowed to make contact with airborne/unsuspecting receivers), but it may also introduce a lot of other consequences as well. Stopping an offense within 10 yards in 3-4 downs might get much more difficult. Conversely, short-yardage plays could take an entirely different look (not sure which side would be favored).
    If people are serious about concussions and the rest of the serious injuries, football might need to consider some of these changes. The old school guys would complain, of course, but if the NFL loses too many stars and starts to make less money, they'd be silly not to at least consider some rule changes. And its not like the athleticism or toughness of the game would be reduced...

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    If people are serious about concussions and the rest of the serious injuries, football might need to consider some of these changes. The old school guys would complain, of course, but if the NFL loses too many stars and starts to make less money, they'd be silly not to at least consider some rule changes. And its not like the athleticism or toughness of the game would be reduced...
    Well, to be honest, I don't know how serious the NFL is about concussions so much as they are interested in not getting sued for lack of safe play. Their willingness to force teams to play games on VERY short rest (Sunday to Thursday) and to push for more regular season games suggests that they don't completely care about safety. They care about revenue first and foremost.

    I think rule changes like that would put the league at a risk of losing revenue. The big hits are part of why people watch. Take them away (or completely change the rules of football) and you run the risk of damaging the popularity of the sport. And if there's one thing the NFL isn't interested in, it's losing popularity (i.e., revenue).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    Football helmet technology has evolved dramatically in 20 years, and the gear can absorb much more punishment.

    Concussions seem to be more frequent--and not just because people are more aware than they used to be. The theory is that players are bigger and faster AND that the helmets make them feel invulnerable.

    One way to reduce injuries would be to get rid of helmets and just go back to the gear from the 1920's. Players would look more like rugby guys, but my understanding is that a linebacker would be much less likely to spear a quarterback's head with his own face. Even if they didn't care about pain, they'd be sidelined until their own bleeding stopped. Ie, in regards to helmets as with much else, Less is more...
    Linebackers and d-backs would be much less likely to go verticle, running backs more cautious in leading with their shoulders and heads, and tackling would take on a much more the wrestle-them-down or wrap-them-up on a diving maneuver variety. A linebacker named Bell, a linebacker hall-of-famer from the late 60's through sometime in the 70s, was the first in the new bred of terrific physical specimen and sized linebackers. He was interviewed on one of the documentaries made about the retired players and injuries issue. He said that he played his first, or an early, game in his career, playing in the newer style of at-risk play and decided that once was enough. He eshewed the helmet and vertical hits, and was the consensus best linebacker in the game for many years.

    The game didn't have the bruttle, violent contact of today's game, but was terrifically exciting, high scoring, and would sell. I think that the injury level, and the seriousness of the injuries incurred, was significantly less daunting than it is today. We are talking great teams that really aired it out--Nameth, LaMonica, Dawson, Stabler, to name a few. The equipment was considerably less protective against the ouch factor and immediate injury bruises, strains, etc to curb the violence. If not, a trip back to the mid-60s euipment should do it. A trip back to the leather stuff probably is not necessary or realistic.

    No matter what happens, I'd change one set of rules yesterday. On the one hand, I'd allow chucking (right term?) a receiver beyond the current five-yard limit (a return to something like the old rule, whatever that was). In return, I'd impose dramatic constraints on over-the-middle hits designed to diswade or prevent receptions or dislodge the ball by particularly violent and dangerous hits--especially those in the back or that cut the legs out from under a receiver in the air, or that level a receiver by a vilent hit while the receiver who is running across the field and just touches or has just caught the ball.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by CDu View Post
    You'd have to change a lot of other rules as well. For instance, in rugby, you can't hit an airborne player. That would greatly change the passing game. You aren't allowed to hit someone without a clear attempt to wrap the player up, and you aren't allowed to hit a player high. The NFL is working to eliminate the latter of these, but the wrapping up would be a change in the rules as well.

    Removing the helmets (and presumably most of the other pads) would change the way people block and tackle. That might reduce concussions (it might not if defenders are still allowed to make contact with airborne/unsuspecting receivers), but it may also introduce a lot of other consequences as well. Stopping an offense within 10 yards in 3-4 downs might get much more difficult. Conversely, short-yardage plays could take an entirely different look (not sure which side would be favored).
    I've made the same argument -- that going back to old style equipment would help, but I wonder if there has been similar study of rugby players around the world. They are also getting bigger and faster -- has the number of concussions increased there? How does that compare to American football? But maybe the rules are just too different to compare.

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