Kickoffs have been part of football since the game was invented, but these days, there are a lot of people concerned about player safety and head injuries, which has prompted the NFL and NCAA to consider banning kickoffs altogether. While the NFL is still a long way off, college football seems to be getting closer to getting rid of the practice.
Since the college football season starts in a little over a month, most people are focused on NCAA football lines, but there are others whose focus is on trying to make the game safer, which starts with eliminating the kickoff.
Right now, there are two football organizations that are in preliminary talks about how to end the kickoff.
The American Football Coaches Association’s board of trustees and the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee are currently discussing how they can continue to improve player safety, and the elimination of the kickoff is one of their top priorities.
Bobby Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner and chairman of that Oversight Committee, said the kickoff is the most dangerous play in football and the committee is trying to figure out how to fix it.
The defunct XFL eliminated the kickoff and had players scramble for the ball instead. When the NFL started considering eliminating the kickoff, most fans thought they would try something similar to what the XFL did, but the league decided to move the kickoff spot to the 35 yard line, in an effort to create more touchbacks instead of players trying to return the ball.
The NCAA followed the NFL’s lead a year later, and according to Rogers Redding, secretary-rules editor for the NCAA rules committee, the change worked. Since the kickoff spot was moved up, there have been more touchbacks and less returns, which was the desired effect.
According to a report, touchbacks have increased 50 percent due to the change.
However, there are still a lot of kickoff returns, and some serious injuries have occurred due to those returns, which is why they are reviewing the kickoffs and trying to eliminate them entirely.
The oversight committee is still trying to figure out how to successfully eliminate the kickoff without upsetting fans, some of which believe that the game is getting softer because of all the rule changes to make the game safer.
No matter how many of the fans complain, it is obvious that the committee and NFL are serious about trying to make the game safer, as long as the changes aren’t too drastic, people will still watch the game.
According to reports, if the committee does make changes to the kickoff, the changes won’t be implemented until the 2017 season because it is going to be too late to make the changes this season.
If the NCAA can successfully change the kickoff rules, the NFL will likely follow suit if it is successful.
Pop Warner has already successfully eliminated the kickoff for all teams featuring kids from age 10 and under. At the time, Jon Butler, the executive director of Pop Warner, said he believes the change will eventually cover all of football in the near future.
Butler said eliminating the kickoff is good for everybody.