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New league will go without kickoffs, and NFL will watch closely

Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons - September 12, 2005

NFL football is set on a tee for the kickoff as the Philadelphia Eagles play against the Atlanta Falcons during a Monday Night Football game on ABC September 12, 2005 in Atlanta. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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The NFL seems to be moving toward eliminating kickoffs, and leading the way will be the new Alliance of American Football.

That upstart league, which will begin play in 10 months, will not have any kickoffs. The biggest obstacle to the NFL’s desire to eliminate kickoffs has been figuring out what to do about onside kicks, and the new league will allow teams to try to keep the ball after scoring by running one offensive play, needing 10 yards to get the ball.

“The kickoff is the least popular play, so why do we still have it?” league founder Charlie Ebersol said on CBS. “If you want to go for an onside kick, we give you the ball on your own 35 facing fourth-and-10. If you can convert you get to keep the ball and go. If you don’t, the other team gets the ball.”

The NFL so far hasn’t had anything to say about the Alliance of American Football, but you can bet they’ll be watching how football without kickoffs works. If fans like it and injuries are reduced, which are the two reasons Ebersol cited for changing the longstanding rule, don’t be surprised if the NFL follows suit.