The NFL’s Stupid New Kickoff Rules

Plus: A few thoughts on Leonard Weaver, Tiger Woods and some other folks who tick me off

The league that isn’t currently a league passed a rule this week that I’m not sure any fan is going to get a kick out of.

NFL owners had their annual meeting in New Orleans, and in between going out for expensive dinners and showing each other their $25,000 watches, the owners went for a rule that lessens the excitement in the game. Kickers will now kickoff from the 35-yard line instead of the usual 30-yard line. Last year, kicking from the 30, some 16 percent percent of kickoffs went for touchbacks. So, with all the big-footed kickers in the NFL, you can bet your last NFL trading card that that number will at least double in the upcoming season.

In other words, fans will see fewer and fewer returns for touchdowns, which just happens to be one of the most exciting things in the game. Fans? Who cares about them?

The measure passed by a 26-6 margin, and according to sources one of the “no” votes came from the Eagles. That’s especially peculiar since the Eagles NEVER have a return man who can take it to the house. Hey, Quintin Demps, come on back down! [SIGNUP]

The league’s rationale for passing such an absurd regulation is that they are trying to reduce the amount of injuries. Now, I have followed NFL football for a lot of years. And I don’t recall ever noticing that it was kickoff returns that were the main culprit for NFL injuries. When reporters ask the NFL owners for statistics that would confirm such, the owners produced no such stats. They say to take their word for it. Now that’s comforting.

Originally, the proposal had a balance in it — so long as there were going to be more touchbacks, then teams should get to start their drive at the 25-yard line. But no, that was pushed aside and so touchbacks will still be placed at the 20.

This is just the opposite of what should happen in the league. Now, teams are more likely to have two roster spots taken up by kickers — one with the bigger foot to kick off, the other the accurate kicker for field goals. The fact that TWO roster spots are now going to be taken up by kickers insults me to the core as a sportsman. Now at training camp, there will be another freeloader goofing around on the non-football field: kicker one, kicker two, the punter, the long snapper and a hacky sack. Wonderful.

Tell you what, let’s just junk this charade all together. Let’s just spot the ball at the 20 without a kickoff. Better yet, let’s do it the way we all did on the sandlot: get the quarterback out there to throw the ball as long and high as he can to the other team.

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By now, the Leonard Weaver faux pas has been discussed ad nauseum. (A French term and Latin term in one sentence? That’s good work by me.) But come on Yo, what’s the deal here? Weaver is said to be one of the more intelligent football players in the league, so what would possess him to compare the plight of the locked out NFL players association to slavery?

Now I get it that sometimes, when we write or talk, we seek out and use the word that we feel has the most pizzaz, the one that will make the most impact.

But as a black man, Weaver should know that striving for a bigger piece of the NFL owners pie while making a multi-million dollar salary isn’t really that close to the instance of men and women, shackled and chained and pushed off the Amistad to be servants at the whip hand of a bigoted rich landowner in the South. But more than an insult to black people throughout America, his statements were an insult to every hard-working American who spends money they don’t have for football tickets just to bring a couple of hours of enjoyment to their lives every Sunday.

Know thy audience, Leonard. You just pissed away a ton of public support for you and your brethren.

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I hate Chad Ochocinco. The fact that this washed-up wide receiver has the audacity to try out for a professional soccer team is an insult to everyone who has played the sport all their lives. Sort of like the disgrace of Michael Jordan or that country fool Garth Brooks trying to play professional baseball. Have respect for people who have made an activity their craft.

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I hate Tiger Woods, too. But even more, I hate the fawning, patronizing golf media who still trod lightly around the once great golfer. Tiger makes the cut but finishes a tournament 20 strokes off the leader, and the questions come to him with as much caution as an alligator hunter trying to hook his prey in the swamp. “So Tiger, how do you measure your progress?” Progress? What, is the guy trying to come back from a nuclear accident that took his legs and arms? He stinks right now and it’s his own fault. Say that, dammit!

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Did Barry Bonds promise his former personal trainer Greg Anderson a 401K plan of some sort — and is that the reason why the trainer won’t testify against Bonds? Jesus, what nitwit would go to jail for as long as Anderson when his get-out-of-jail-free card would come if he only told the court that he injected Bonds in the ass with a steroid syringe? Come on, Brother, have a little pride. You have loved ones, right? Can Bonds money be that important? Tell on the guy and start your life over. ESPN might hire you. They hire everyone else.