NFL rule changes are again a topic of discussion, after Roger Goodell told Time Magazine this week that he will consider eliminating the kickoff. The idea stems from the fact that kickoffs are considered the most dangerous play in football - players get about 50 yards to build up momentum, and the resulting tackles look like two medieval armies crashing together on a battlefield.
The proposal he mentioned is one favored by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano: a team would retain the ball after scoring, and start from their own 30-yard line. The down would be 4th-and-15, and teams would have the option to either go for it, or punt. It's a little crazy, but that kind of thinking is necessary to improve a game that definitely has some room for improvement. People hear "NFL rule change" and they freak, because we love our football and there have been so many rule changes in recent years that have drawn outrage from fans and players alike. But there are definitely some NFL rules that could stand to change. Here are some other ideas the NFL should consider.
Personal opinion, but there is nothing better than college football overtime. It turns any game, even if it's Podunk State vs. Nowhere A&M, into the most exciting thing in the world. The NFL made some strides this year, but the recent tie between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers proves there is a way to make it better. Give each team the ball on the 40, and turn it into a game of "anything you can do, I can do at least equally as well." It's less physically exhausting than playing a full 15-minute quarter, and much more fun.
No More Challenges
This one is a no-brainer. The coach's challenge system is so silly and outdated; getting a call correct shouldn't be a competitive move, it should be automatic. Just have all questionable calls get a second look in the booth upstairs, or in NFL headquarters in New York. If they see suitable evidence, then the refs go under the hood and take a closer look. That way, the game clock keeps running, but can be stopped if something looks wrong. They already review all turnovers and touchdowns, and the act of throwing a red flag and then yelling at the refs wastes at least as much time as would take to give a quick once-over to a play. It's how they do it in college, and it's how it should be in the pros.
Change Pass Interference
There is so much about pass interference that is subjective, and yet it is not reviewable. A good NFL rule change would be to either make pass interference a 15-yard penalty, and not just place the ball at the spot of the foul. Too many games get dramatically altered based on a wide receiver and cornerback getting their legs tangled. This should be looked at up in the booth, and if it's close, then the refs can go under the hood.
No More Icing The Kicker
Useless strategy, wastes more time than it's worth, and evidence points to the fact that it doesn't actually work. On a field goal, if the play clock gets to five seconds, no timeouts allowed. Simple as that.
Change The Tuck Rule
There is such ambiguity about what constitutes a fumble for a quarterback. If his hand is moving forward, but the ball isn't in it, is that a fumble or an incomplete pass? If a QB tries to bring the ball back to his body, is that a fumble or not? This is silly - fumble rules are pretty obvious for everyone else, but not the QB.
Roughing the passer/kicker
Another special rule for QBs that is ridiculous. In general, late hits and hits to a defenseless receiver need to be codified and reviewable. But especially for the QB - if a defender hits the quarterback seconds after he's released the ball, or inadvertently in the head, that shouldn't be an automatic 15 yards. If a punter boots one and then falls to the ground, that shouldn't reset the play. There are so many people watching at a football game, would it kill to have one more guy in the booth just taking a second look?
No More Celebration Penalties
Come on, I miss the Dirty Bird and the weird bob-and-weave thing the Rams used to do and all the fun orchestrated stuff. If there are things bigger than football, and we all recognize it, why can't the players have some fun? I want props, and getting fans involved, and hidden laser shows and smoke machines and maybe some exotic animals! You wouldn't want to see Victor Cruz salsa dance on a tiny dance floor he hid underneath the turf in the endzone? Come on.