Roger Goodell wonders if the NFL can eliminate kickoffs

Al Messerschmidt

The NFL Commissioner talks to Time magazine.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the focus of a new story in Time magazine that delves into Goodell's upbringing, his rise through the NFL ranks and eventually his appointment as the league's commissioner.

The whole story is worth a read but one part, in which Goodell discusses his player safety initiatives, stands out. The NFL has at least talked about various ways they could eliminated the kickoff from the game, including this idea:

Kickoffs seem especially vulnerable, which won't please many fans, since they have the potential to deliver excitement. In a recent meeting with Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay, head of the NFL's competition committee, Goodell brought up an idea promoted by Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano: After a touchdown or field goal, instead of kicking off, a team would get the ball on its own 30-yard line, where it's fourth and 15. The options are either to go for it and try to retain possession or punt. If you go for it and fall short, of course, the opposing team would take over with good field position.

So the kickoff is replaced by the punt and the onside kick is replaced by 4th-and-15. On a kickoff, players are running directly toward each other, creating a high chance of a big collision. On a punt, players are lined up at the line of scrimmage together, and run down the field together.

This isn't an idea that's being put into effect or anything, but it's an interesting look at the types of things the NFL is doing to eliminate some of the big hits in the game. And this isn't the first time Goodell has thought outside the box while trying to improve the game.

The NFL has made a number of recent changes with player safety in mind but eliminating the kickoff, or even tweaking it, would be one of the biggest moves yet.

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