Getting rid of the kickoff currently isn’t on the agenda for the NFL’s owners as they prepare to meet in Orlando. But it soon could be.
NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent recently told Dan Patrick that, immediately after the league meetings, a group will be organized to further explore the kickoff.
“We have to do something about that play,” Vincent said. He acknowledged that there’s “resistance” to the possibility of getting rid of the kickoff, but getting rid of the kickoff remains on the table.
The issue of dumping the kickoff periodically gets mentioned by league executives. It first came up in a 2012 Time profile of Commissioner Roger Goodell, when Goodell mentioned an idea from Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano to give the team that would replace the kickoff with the team that would have been kicking off a fourth-and-15 from its own 30. The team can punt or go for it, either with a scrimmage play (simulating the planned onside kick) or a fake punt (simulating the surprise onside kick).
However it plays out, any decision to get rid of the kickoff will require a replacement that gives the team that’s trailing by more than one score a chance to keep possession and eventually tie or win the game. Otherwise, it will be harder for teams to launch comebacks, and the NFL surely won’t want to make any changes that could make its games less competitive and uncertain.