(Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens and his place kicker Justin Tucker stated recently that kickers should be awarded one point if they drive a kickoff through the uprights.
Coach’s Corner agrees, saying so on these pages three years ago, and repeating the idea again earlier this year. While their intent was simply to reward kickers, my proposal went much further. Please read below.)
99.3% to 94.2%.
Those were the accuracy rates for 2014 and 2015, respectively, before and after the distance for kicking points after touchdowns (PAT’s) was lengthened.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested eliminating the point-after-touchdown altogether because the accuracy rate had reached nearly 100%. A poorly advised compromise ensued, leading to the success rate being lowered as shown above.
In an unrelated move, president John Mara of the New York Giants, a member of the NFL Rules Committee, suggested eliminating kick offs entirely to lessen the chance of concussions.
Coach’s Corner, however, wants to retain both PAT’s and kickoffs with a proposal that will actually enhance scoring in addition to lessening the danger of injuries at the same time.
I ask the NFL suits to take notice of my proposal for the adoption of the Power Kick.
In view of the injuries taking place on football fields all across America from Pop Warner to the NFL, I think it prudent we continue a discussion about football injuries and what can be done to lessen this very real threat to the well-being of both players and the game itself.
Participation in Pop Warner football leagues is down 10% because of a 4% concussion rate which means parents risk a 1 in 25 chance of their child sustaining a head injury.
Twenty-five high school players died between 2003 and 2012 from injuries, not including heat stroke.
In 2013, there were six deaths due to head, spine and neck injuries.
All levels of play are in agreement that most head injuries occur when players collide at high rates of speed.
The highest rates of speed and greatest number of injuries take place during kickoff returns.
In the interest of increasing player safety while adding a new scoring opportunity to the offense, I suggest the NFL Rules Committee consider the following:
A team kicking off will notify the referee that it intends to Power Kick the ball between the uprights. The referee will notify the opposing team and coach. If there is no notice to the referee, no Power Kick shall ensue and an on-side kick may be attempted.
If the kicking team chooses to Power Kick, the following will occur:
The ball is placed on a tee at the kicking team’s forty-yard line, rather than the thirty-five.
If the Power Kick is good, i.e., goes through the uprights, seventy-yards away, the kicking team is awarded one point and the receiving team takes possession on its thirty-yard line, first-and-ten.
If the Power Kick kick fails to go through the uprights, the receiving team has the option of returning the kick or downing the ball in the end zone and taking possession on its thirty-five-yard line, first-and-ten.
There can be no recovery of a Power Kick until the receiving team has touched the ball. Therefore, an unsuccessful Power Kick, untouched in the field of play, will come out to the thirty-five-yard-line.
The Power Kick may be used at any time during the game, except in overtime.
It creates the possibility of a nine-point play—-a touchdown, two-point conversion, and a one-point Power Kick.
The new rule helps the offense and presents the late game opportunity of a nine-point score to tie or win a game.
More importantly, it will decrease kick-off returns, the plays from which most injuries occur of the type that are of greatest concern to the NFL, i.e., collisions between very fast players at high speeds.
The risk-reward is positive for the kicking team when an onside kick is the only alternative in a late tied or one-point game, but even earlier in a game when a four-point deficit may be reduced to three with a successful Power Kick.
If the Power Kick were in use in the 2013 playoff game between the Ravens and the Broncos, the following scenario would’ve played out. An extra point by Baltimore tied the score at 35-35 with 31 seconds to play. Do you attempt the Power Kick to put you up by a point and let Manning start from his thirty if you make it? Or if you miss, from his thirty-five? Or do you kick deep and hopefully make him start at his twenty and play for overtime?
For purists who resist change, think of not only the two-point conversion in football, but the three-point play in basketball and the designated hitter rule in baseball.
All changes enhanced their sports through increased offensive production.
The Power Kick could also be used in college and high school as well. Colleges could use the forty-five yard line while high schools could kick-off from mid-field.
Fans will love it. Coaches will embrace it. Players will welcome it.
All one need do is look at the number of players strewn on the fields during kickoffs of NFL and college games to realize something pro-active rather than re-active must be done.
The NFL has already moved the kickoff from the thirty to the thirty-five yard line to reduce returns.
The Power Kick is the next logical move.
And the game will be safer because of it.