Posted December 06, 2012

Roger Goodell opens up on letting the Chiefs play, possible rule changes

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(Courtesy of TIME)

(Courtesy of TIME)

Love or hate Roger Goodell, there is no getting around the fact that he is carving out a lasting and impactful legacy as NFL commissioner. No issue has been more front and center during the Goodell era than that of player safety.

Specifically, Goodell, the subject of the cover story in this week’s TIME magazine, has focused much of his attention on reducing the number of head injuries suffered during NFL games.

That aim has driven a bevy of rule changes over the past few season. The most obvious include putting officials in charge of sending players out of the game if it’s suspected they have suffered concussions and cracking down on high, dangerous hits.

But is there more on the way?

One of the more prevalent talking points lately has centered on the dangers of kickoffs. Prior to the 2011 season, kickoffs were moved up to the 35-yard-line, drastically decreasing the number of returns attempted. If at least one NFL coach has his way, the league won’t stop there.

According to TIME, Goodell recently discussed with Rick McKay, Falcons president and head of the NFL’s competition committee, a radical rule change proposed by Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Instead of a kickoff, the team that scored would then take the ball on its own 30-yard line in, essentially, a 4th-and-15 situation. In other words, they could attempt to keep their offense on the field and try to pick up 15 yards, at the risk of turning the ball over on downs; or they could punt.

“I don’t do things for public relations,” Goodell said. “I do things because they’re the right thing to do, because I love the game.”

Limiting kickoff returns is one thing (even that drew groans from fans), but eliminating them completely in favor of an off-the-wall replacement rule? That might change the game dramatically, and not necessarily for the better.

As Goodell pointed out to TIME, kickoffs arguably are the most dangerous plays in football because of the high-speed collisions that occur there. Tweaking the framework to add player safety, then, is smart … but Schiano’s brainchild is an off-the-wall idea that may force the NFL to find a happy medium between that plan and the current system.

Already in place for next season is a rule that will force all players to wear both thigh and knee pads. Many players have expressed frustration with that proposed thigh/knee pad mandate, arguing that the extra equipment would slow them down and, in turn, lead to a worse product on the field.

Goodell is walking a very fine line between the noble cause of making football safer for the players and bastardizing the very game itself. Seemingly with each passing day, though, we learn more about how damaging the brutal NFL can be, both for players currently playing and those who have retired.

The issue dove into the spotlight again last weekend, under the most tragic of circumstances. Saturday, Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before turning a gun on himself in front of Kansas City’s coach and general manager.

Belcher had no prior history of concussions, but his tragic incident was another piece of evidence for those who would argue that the NFL does not do enough to protect its players — physically, mentally or emotionally.

Heavy criticism was cast, too, toward the decision for the Chiefs to take the field for a game against Carolina, slightly more than 24 hours after Belcher’s murder-suicide.

Goodell discussed with TIME his reasoning:

“It was ultimately my decision,” said Goodell, who, according to TIME‘s report, also arranged for grief counselors in Kansas City. “But it was important to get the views of the players and try to honor their wishes. Clark [Hunt, Chiefs chairman] got back to me and said Romeo [Crennel] and the captains felt that playing the game — being together as a team and a community — was important. So that’s exactly what we did.”

The Chiefs won, 27-21.

Adjusting kickoff rules feels very disconnected from what transpired with Belcher and the Chiefs. And yet, it harkens back to the greatest challenge facing Goodell: promoting the safety of football without destroying America’s most popular league.

187 comments
george.t.wilford.jr
george.t.wilford.jr

I guess it's a good thing Goodell is not in charge of car racing....LMAO...

 

For those of you who are slow?

 

Why do people watch car racing? 

 

Answer: For the crashes!

george.t.wilford.jr
george.t.wilford.jr

Easy Fix for the Kickoff and punt returns. two hand touch only. or Flag, either way the return man does not get punished.

 

As for "God"dell he needs to get off his dam high horse. Football has been around forever, and ran just fine without him, and will carry on long after he is gone! Sooner the Better! He is truly a wackO if he even worse than Schiano. 

 

Go Pats...That's how you run and organization. 

 

Robert Craft for Commish!

brandonnp
brandonnp

Probably should do away with kickers all together. Then maybe take away tackling. Then the coin toss would determine who get's to go first in a riveting game of CandyLand.

SusanBarth
SusanBarth

No more helmets.  I challenge any of these players to lead with their heads if they're not wearing helmets....guaranteed THEY WILL NOT.

curtissvenn
curtissvenn

Wow.  Look at all these grown men afraid of change.  The evolution of the rules and game has created the framework that enables players to continue to play, to become the stars that populate your fantasies. 

msbeane
msbeane

North of the border we have the "no yards" rule on the kick off.  If the receiving player catches the ball in the air and there is a kickoff team player closer than 5 yards, it's a 15 yard penalty added to the return, for a ball caught after a bounce the penalty is 5 yards.  Our northern solution to the fair catch rule.

Monstrosity
Monstrosity

Wow Just change the name from FOOTball to Godellball. How the hell can you do away with kickoffs in a game called "Football"? Idiot commissioner is destroying the game I grew up loving.

laacproperties
laacproperties

get the flags out....Goodell is ruining the best sport in the world one rule at a time.

3rdCoaster
3rdCoaster

Keep it up and soon the players will only be able to touch the ball with their feet. Probably be wearing shorts and constantly hugging each other also. Wait, that's what they do in the rest of the world.

g-Man
g-Man

Just how is the NFL responsible for one lunatic who decides to do a murder-suicide (He should have reversed the order in which he did it).  But that is a symptom of our society, not he NFL.  To say that the NFL is responsile for that is like saying the the movie theater is responsible for the lunatic that killed a bunch of people in the Colorado Batman shooting. 

 

Also, what is the stupidity of stopping the world because some idiot commits a horrible act???  If we start doing that then we will have more idiots doing even more stupid things to stop the world.  I don't know why not playing the game would even be considered...

horsley1953
horsley1953

Perhaps this should be one for Mythbusters: Do players really get a chance to hit harder on kickoffs than they do on punts?

quickcheckphil
quickcheckphil

If he was REALLY concerned about players' safety, how about flag football? Or does the fans want and need to see the damaging hits?

elhamb3166
elhamb3166

Kickoffs are not the only producer of 'high speed collisions.'  When that corner safety comes full chat and launches himself at a receiver who is motoring down the sideline, that is also a high speed collision.

 

Ban the forward pass and the kickoff.  Basically go with rugby rules.  Start game and possession changes with a scrum and allow backwards lateral passing only.  

SergioBrahman
SergioBrahman

It seems to me like real, true testing for HGH would do a heck of a lot more to curb injuries than removing kickoffs. Limiting the number of 260 lb. freaks who can run a 4.5 40 would reduce concussions and injuries more than any rules tweaks. 

dacva
dacva

I think the Canadian Football League has a rule the the receiving team can receive the ball from a kickoff or have the ball placed on the 20 yard line. Since most kickoffs go into the end zone anyway, this option might speed up the game. It can also be used to conserve time on the clock if the receiving team is losing and needs a score to win in the fourth quarter.

pcseller001
pcseller001

Have both teams dress in sumo fat suits, do the kickoff and then undress...sure the game will take longer but that's more commercial/bathroom/kitchen time.

 

It would be more entertaining that any other proposal...other than LEAVING IT THE HECK ALONE.

BryantCrawford
BryantCrawford

How about no more field goals from inside the 30. Or score them 2pts inside the 30 and 3 outside.

Or tighten the width of the posts.

tk
tk

"1905 had been a bloody year on the gridiron; the Chicago Tribune reported 18 players had been killed and 159 seriously injured that season. There were moves to abolish the game. But President Theodore Roosevelt personally intervened and demanded that the rules of the game be reformed. In a meeting of more than 60 schools in late 1905, the commitment was made to make the game safer. This meeting was the first step toward the establishment of what would become the NCAA and was followed by several sessions to work out "the new rules."

 

The final meeting of the Rules Committee tasked with reshaping the game was held on April 6, 1906, at which time the forward pass officially became a legal play."

 

The game has changed before for the sake of safety and hasn't been all bad.  Forward Pass? Changed the game forever.  All for the sake of safety.

BryantCrawford
BryantCrawford

So in reality a team once a team scores they may never give up the ball? Advantage Patriots and Brady, Manning Broncos and Giants, Colts and Luck........

 

I guess thats why he's the coach of the Bucs and not a real team.

dylanwms
dylanwms

Another idea: have teams kickoff from the 40. The twist - if the kicker can kick the ball through the uprights, then the kicking team gets 2 points and the opposing team starts on their 15. If he can't, then the opposing team gets the ball at their own 35. Kicks that land in the main field of play (not the end zone) would be treated like a regular kickoff.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

What's next no punts, no hitting, The NFL is becoming a 2 hand touch league.....If the players ant hit they DONT need millions of dollars and you Roger dont either............

Irish1901
Irish1901

NFFL---National Flag Football League.  Its the only way to stop this barbaric carnage that is going on... Wow I can't believe I made it through that with out LMAO!  No one is forcing these players to play... They want to play because of the money is there.  They know the risk of playing football.

 

BJamesC-- you hit it on the head He is a LAWYER and that is the problem... we have become a sue happy country were everyone walks on egg shells.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings... It is a sad state this country is in, and that is coming from a Veteran who, shot real bullets and had real bullets coming back at him.  All for $30,000 a year.

 

Don't tell me about risk- they are big boys and if they don't want to get hurt Get the Hell out of the Game....

 

Have a great Friday everyone!

BJamesC
BJamesC

Before you complain, try to understand what Mr Goodell is doing as he works to make the game safer. I know it pisses fans off, but the NFL is exposed to liability issues with the pending head injury litigation. Goodell is a lawyer by trade, and he knows that he needs to limit the NFL's liability in the long term in order to keep the game viable. The fact is, if the courts decide that the NFL can be held liable for player injuries, many former players can and will sue the league and the entire system will collapse. No more NFL. That is not an opinoin and it's not open for debate, it's a fact and it's why Goodell, the owners, and an army of lawyers are doing what they're doing. They know the changes will change the game, and they might not like like the changes themselves, but they must to this to keep the league alive in the Long Term. 

 

Conversely, I would like to see some hard statistics on % of players injured on Kickoff Plays vs % of players injured on Non-Kickoff Plays. I understand in theory why The Kickoff is such a dangerous play, but when watching the game on both the NCAA and NFL level, I just don't see that many injuries taking place. I need more data than people giving me a theory as to why it's more dangerous then general game play...prove it. Show me the numbers!

ctstudd88
ctstudd88

why not just let them play the game on playstation. Then nobody gets hurt playing from the couch. Or have the NFL invest in robots to play the came. The game is changing to where the players don't want to make a hit in fear of a fine, meanwhile the defenders are breaking free on weak hits.

Davion
Davion

Very few of you seem to recognize the fact it was the coaches who came up with this idea, not Roger.

He just has to decide what is best for the players, thats his job.

 

Blame the coaches if you want to blame someone, if they never suggested it, it may never have even been considered.

Shawn Collins
Shawn Collins

Interesting. I would have never suspected that the NFL Commissioner would even remotely consider removing plays that make up a huge part of the game and can turn momentum around for a team that is making a comeback. Does that remove the onside kick? Why not get rid of punts? Punting is just as dangerous as the velocity with which players are moving can cause the same type of bone-jarring injuries as the kick-off.

 

Roger, it might be time to institute flag football into the NFL if you are trying to eliminate injuries. Each time a wide receiver goes for a ball, they are potentially at risk to suffer from a career ending injury, regardless of the rules that are being put into place to protect players from specific types of hits. Maybe all we should allow the players to do is rush the ball and where flags, no tackling allowed.

 

Face it Roger, men play the game because that is what they want to do. If they are concerned about injury, they shouldn't play. That's why it is called a choice. Will this bafoonery carry over to college? The mere thought of this is more upsetting than the world ending on December 21st.

 

 

thecayce
thecayce

Here we go again, allowing an arbitrary outsider to protect the 'victim' of a dangerous sport. Why not let the players influence the game? Every player knows the risks going in, and chooses whether the risks are worth it. If enough players stop signing on because of certain risks, then it would be time to act. And once this level of control, the kick-off  high-speed collisions elimination, is accomplished, what's next? Something will surely be next. Before we know it, the NFL will be tag football. But then again, maybe other 'dangerous' sports could learn from this change. Yeah... I can see it now... a 55mph speed limit on NASCAR & Indianapolis raceways.

1smoothoperator
1smoothoperator

get rid of goodell....salary caps (socialism) eliminating violent high speed collisions. You have ruined the game...you killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. I won't waste my time or money on the NFL anymore.  Baseball is next as soon as they cap team salaries I'm done...

mailmd
mailmd

I've watched foot ball for years but I have a question. Why are injuries more prevalent on kick-off returns than on punts. Both seem to involve high speed collisions. Other than fair catching a punt or a touch back on a kick-off, both seem similar to me. What am I missing?

Eric24
Eric24

There's an easy way to reduce these head injuries: stop messing around with penalty yards and small fines when players intentionally hit the head. Kick them out of the NFL and ban them from all professional sports for life.

PS
PS

I've heard that he's looking to merge the NFL with the United States Chess League.  

 

Apparently, the only thing holding up the union is the USCL's reluctance to make substantial and deliberate changes to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome among players.

Dana2
Dana2

Goodell needs to back off on this one

and cool it on the HUGE FINES.

 

Fines are one thing

6-figure mega-fines (even for high-salaried players) are causing top defenders to second-guess hits

endangering the hitters themselves,

and is ruining the game.

 

Back off, Goodell - water it all down too much,

and we find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

BathazarXavier
BathazarXavier

oh goody! arena football in bigger stadiums...just what i want to see on sunday!!!

JamesD
JamesD

Hi Guys. I have lived 56 years in southern california. The family has been in the US over 400 years. Maybe someone could explain to me what football is? I've never heard of it. Is it a game where people watch a few guys carry a ball back and forth? Do people actually pay for this? Bye Bye NFL. You are irrelevant.

ctstudd88
ctstudd88

 @Irish1901 agreed! let the lawyers play in a courtroom where they belong, and leave football to the people who like it as it is. Why not have players sign wavers from lawsuits. If you choose to play you take the chance of getting hurt. its their choice. Im sure you wont see a drop off on players entering the NFL due to a waver. 

ctstudd88
ctstudd88

 @Davion I would like Roger to resign but he dont seem to take that idea and just go with it. and the coaches are just worried about loosing players. why not focus on better backups. Its what makes it more interesting when a backup comes in. It makes a team more of a team when all players play not just warm the bench.

PS
PS

 @Shawn Collins "Does that remove the onside kick?" 

 

Yes, but the reasoning seems to be that one down to get the 15-yard first down is roughly the same odds as recovering an onside kick.  IMO, the problem with that it rewards the best passing teams, and hampers the more balanced and running teams.

PS
PS

 @mailmd 

Kicks: 11 guys (well, 10 minus the kicker) pretty much going full speed from a running start with minimal opposition.

Punts: ~2 guys getting obstructed by ~4, while others get delayed at the line.

MikeF.Scholes
MikeF.Scholes

 @PS Gotta nix that idea.....The MMA already has snapped up the the USCL and created full contact CHESS CAGE MATCHES.....good idea though.....Goodell missed the boat....again!

Dana2
Dana2

 @JamesD  - what are you doing here, lamo?

 

Take a laxative and go play some Pinochle.

:D

mc501
mc501

 @JamesD Perhaps.  Why are you reading this column and these comments?

BJamesC
BJamesC

 @ctstudd88  @Irish1901

 I can't disagree with you. At least you understand the issues on the table here. As a veteran, you can fill me in on this - do the courts allow you to sue the United States Government if you are wounded? I don't believe they do, or at least they limit your power to do it. Also, I believe the US Government provides far more care for Veterans than the NFL does for former players. When you sign up for the military, you essentially waive your right to sue your employer. If the courts find that the NFL can take a similar stand, then I'm 100% they will do so. That said, the real question is whether or not the courts will allow the NFL to implement waivers of liability...my guess is no.

tukwilatommygun
tukwilatommygun

 @PS  @Shawn Collins then you throw to your tallest reciever on the end at 16 yards and get a pass interference penalty.  lots of entertainment value there.