RUSH: Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, is on the cover of TIME Magazine this week. In the story on Goodell, an idea presented: A replacement for the kickoff. As you know, people get hurt, they injure their heads, and then they shoot people. And the NFL wants to stop this. The game is violent, and there are too many head injuries that are the result of many things, including high-speed collisions.
So for the decent number of months this year, the kickoff has been looked at as maybe something to be eliminated in the National Football League, ’cause you’ve got big behemoth players, bigger and faster than ever, approaching each other at speeds that are faster than ever. Something has to give when they collide. Concussions happen, and other bodily harm and injuries involving broken ankles and pulled muscles.
The league wants to eliminate as much of this as they can. So eliminating the kickoff has been tossed around. Greg Schiano, the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has proposed an idea which is ostensibly being considered to replace the kickoff, and it is this: The team that would kick off (i.e., the team that loses the coin toss) would get the ball at their own 30 yard line. It would be automatically 4th down and 15.
The game starts with a team on offense facing 4th and 15 from their own 30.
They can either punt or go for it.
Going for it would replace the on onside kick, you see?
There would no longer be an onside kick, either, because there wouldn’t be a kickoff. So the theory is most teams would punt rather than go for it on 4th and 15 from their own 30. And since the ball is punted very high and since it doesn’t go as far as a kickoff, the speeds at which players would collide would not be as great, and the chance for great bodily harm and perhaps concussion (leading to murder) would be reduced.
It’s being seriously considered. The punt is considered to be much less dangerous than a kickoff because the team receiving the punt has to run backwards to form blocking protection for the player fielding the punt. And many punts end up in a fair catch in which there are very few collisions.
So the game is safer.
So the game would start 4th and 15 on team’s 30 yard line with a punt. Or, if they’re gutsy, they can go for it. That is the rule. Goodell, in the article, says that the idea came from Greg Schiano, who is the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The fact that Goodell mentioned it in the TIME Magazine cover story is seen as a sign that the league is considering it.
RUSH: As far as the NFL kickoff, I have an alternative idea. When I worked at the Kansas City Royals, the Chiefs were right across parking lot M. M is a parking lot between Arrowhead Stadium and now Kauffman Stadium. I had some friends over at it Chiefs PR office, and we played tough football with the Chiefs front office when baseball season ended every Thursday afternoon.
I’d go back and forth, and I saw some of the posters that the league — now, this is early eighties, so it’s a little time ago — but I saw some of the posters the league sent out to help teams market and sell tickets. And one of the posters, I’ll never forget this, one of the posters said this: “If you know that more people bowl in a week than attend NFL games in a season, then you know America.” Now, the NFL is trying to tell its member teams that there’s a whole bunch of people out there to sell tickets to that you haven’t marketed. And bowling was held out as the — and of course you know the Tomb of the Unknown Bowler is in Raytown, Missouri, not very far from Arrowhead Stadium. I was once asked to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Bowler when I lived in Kansas City. I never had a chance to go.
But here’s my idea. Instead of this fourth and 15 stuff, I mean you still got contact. If you start the game fourth and 15 on the 30, you still punt. Still contact. Still a possibility for concussion and then murder and suicide. We want to eliminate that. So, I think what the NFL ought to do is put portable bowling alleys on the sideline at every game and then have the team captain, or whoever’s the best bowler on the team, bowl one ball, and you get three points for every pin knocked down. So the team captain goes out there and rolls one ball down the bowling lane.
If you knock down seven pins, you start at the 21 yard line. No contact. And therein you have given a whole new reason for bowlers to attend NFL games. Imagine the excitement, something you couldn’t capture at home even on high definition, the excitement of the team captain in full uniform bowling. And after every touchdown the team captain would bowl again to find out where the team starts from. And you’ve saved lives, you’ve saved countless lives with this, and if you bowl a strike, three points per pin, you’re starting at the 30. If you gutter ball, you’re starting at your own, you know, one-inch line. Maybe throw a gutter ball, safety, and you do it all over again, who knows. But think of the lives saved, and think of the careers that will be extended.
You know what else? USA Today has a story today about, specifically, NBA and NFL players and how after they’ve quit, two to three years after they’ve retired, they’re bankrupt and broke. And they have nothing. No, Snerdley. Be patient. There’s a reason for this. We’re working on it, but as of now, many of the rookies that end up in the NFL and the NBA come from backgrounds where they have never had money, and they don’t know how to deal with it. It’s not their fault that they lose it. It’s not their fault that it’s taken, make bad deals, you know, shyster agents and management and so forth.
What could happen, I think if we are to be consistent, take the United Auto Workers. We pay them after they retire. We pay their health care. We pay ’em a pension. I think in order to solve this terrible societal problem, which is NBA and NFL players being bankrupt and broke two years after they retire, I think the owners should continue to pay them, even after they retire. If it’s good enough for the UAW, it’s good enough for the players union in the NFL and the NBA. Lifetime health care and a lifetime pension. That’s, you know, 80, 90% of your salary after you’ve played three, four-years, the average time that a player in the NFL lasts.
Of course with the rules changes that life span will go up because there will be less contact and less danger and less injury. But start doing it in the NFL and the NBA and Major League Baseball, what we do elsewhere, just continue to pay people after they quit working. Why not? Why not? Give me a good reason why not. Bankrupt the league? No, the league will go on. The league will never run out of money. What are you talking about?