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Bud Grant urges NFL to change rules to reduce kneeldowns, fair catches, touchbacks

As Nick Saban's battles over NIL deals continue in the NCAA, Mike Florio and Peter King look back on some of the most memorable feuds between NFL coaches.

Hall of Fame former Vikings coach Bud Grant is, at 95, almost as old as the NFL itself. But he’s not done offering suggestions for how the league can improve quality of play.

Grant told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he wants to take out the boring parts of every game, specifically kneeldowns at the end of the game, fair catches on punts and touchbacks on kickoffs.

“I would complain to people about the idea that when the trailing team was out of timeouts, the quarterback starts kneeling down and the fans are leaving,” Grant said. The answer always was, ‘There’s nothing that can be done about it.’ I kept thinking about it and decided, ‘Yes, there is. The team on offense has to make a yard — 1 yard — or the clock stops. A few things can happen when trying to make a yard. You can get stuffed. You can fumble. You can get a penalty. And you keep the fans interested.”

Grant, a four-time Grey Cup winner who is also in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, also wants the NFL to follow the CFL’s lead on punts.

“I attended enough meetings to know the NFL wants to avoid admitting Canadian football has a better idea about anything. Yet, they should follow Canada and take away the fair catch,” Grant said. “There’s no fair catch in Canada, but the coverage also has to give the returner 5 yards. NFL people hear this and they’ll say, ‘It will increase injuries.’ The 5-yard cushion makes all the difference. My opinion is there won’t be a real increase in injuries, and the punt would become an interesting play.”

Grant also wants to disincentivize touchbacks on kickoffs.

“Why bother, if your goal is to make the kickoff the most-nothing play in football? They say it’s about safety. Injuries happen on every play,” Grant said. “They have made several changes on the way you can block on the kickoff. They can keep those. But you wait three minutes through a timeout, they come back, kick off, walk the ball out to 25. It’s ridiculous. Move the kickoff back 5 yards [to the 30], and if you don’t bring it out, you don’t get rewarded with the 25. You get the ball at the 15.”

Unfortunately for Grant, the NFL has prioritized injury reduction in its rules changes, and kickoffs and punts are at the top of the list of plays the NFL wants to make safer. Which means there’s really no chance of Grant’s rules being implemented. And Grant’s proposal for eliminating kneeldowns could also increase injuries late in games. So it’s safe to say the NFL won’t be bringing Grant on as a rules consultant, no matter how passionate he is for adding to the sport’s entertainment value.