If kickoffs die …
Many questions would arise if kickoffs are someday sent to football’s dusty basement and never heard from again. Here are two of them:
A lost proving ground?
If football banishes the kickoff, what becomes of the proving ground that kickoffs and kickoff coverage provide? If kickoffs go, many special-teams jobs from the preps to pros will go with it. This is where Vikings players Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo found their way in the NFL. “It taught me how to compete and how to go pretty much all out every single play,” Thielen said. “It was the reason I made the team my first year and gave me the opportunities I had after that. Obviously, special teams have a big place in my heart.”
What about onside kicks?
Without the kickoff, what happens to the onside kick, which gives teams trailing late in game a risk-reward way to catch up? Here’s one idea that would give desperate teams a chance. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano proposed this alternative to the kickoff in 2012, two years after Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand sustained a severe spinal injury on a kickoff return: After a touchdown or field goal, the scoring team gets the ball placed on its own 30 and faces a 4-and-15 situation in which it can either punt or go for a first down. Schiano’s idea comes from his research he said revealed a disproportionate number of catastrophic injuries occurring on kickoffs. He is now an Ohio State associate head coach.