NFL to Ban the Kickoff in 2013

The current NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell has taken criticism for the strict manner in which he runs the league.  Fans and players alike disapprove of the safety measures he’s put in place for overly aggressive hits, arguing that they are “simply a part of the game”.

And now, in conjunction with New York Giants owner John Mara, Goodell aims to ban the kickoff from football in 2013. 

New Orleans fans out there who screamed and shouted at Goodell for his harsh penalties on the Saints after the “Bounty-Gate” scandal, will sound like a whisper compared to the uproar that would ensue an official ban on the NFL kickoff.

Now, in a league plagued by mental disorder caused by brain trauma, banning the kickoff may not seem like that awful of an idea, especially in the wake of the Javon Belcher incident, when a former Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker became involved in a mysterious murder suicide earlier this year. Could the mental anguish that led to this awful incident, and many less unfortunate ones like it, be solved by banning the kickoff?

Unlikely that it would, but the new proposal could drastically reduce the risk of injury, particularly concussions, in one of the sport’s most dangerous plays.  For now, the scoring team kicks off from the 35-yard line, which leads to 30.6 concussions per season, on average (down from 33.3 before the league moved the kickoff up five yards in 2011).  The proposed change to the game would entail the scoring team retaining possession after a score.  They’d then be put on an automatic 4th and 15 with the decision to punt the ball or go for it from their own 30 yard line.  Naturally, most teams would punt it.  Punting, as opposed to kickoffs, leads to just 12.8 concussions per season, on average.

Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns, who made his career returning kickoffs argues that

“I couldn’t ever see that.  That’s like taking the goal post out of the stadium, taking the whole post and uprooting it. Only play offense and defense, just like intramurals. Then play indoors and put flags in our pants.”

Cribbs has a point.  In a sport characterized by big hits and dazzling offensive elusiveness, it seems like nothing embodies the NFL quite like the opening kickoff.  It’s exciting, electrifying, and heart-pounding, but is the safety of our players worth the risk? Is sparing 20 concussions a season worth banning the kickoff?
What do you think?

If you liked this you may want to read, When To Buy NFL Tickets (scroll halfway down for the best tips).

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