Solving the NFL’s kick-off problem


The NFL has a problem. They want to eliminate all kick-offs from the game. They can’t. Not yet. But soon enough they will. The challenge for them? On-side kicks.

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The on-side kick is a vital part to NFL games. Nothing is more exciting or nerve racking than a team lining up three points down or seven points down and needing the ball back with time expiring. They line up, they kick off, and then pandemonium insues.

In 2015 there were 66 on-side kick attempts according to Of those attempts only nine were actually successful. In 2014, 56 were attempted with only nine successful. The NFL can’t simply eliminate the kick-offs because it would take away the opportunity to attempt to get the ball back late in the game to potentially pull off a stunning come from behind win.

But what if they could have both? The thrill of an on-side kick, the elmination of the kick-off, and still keep the potential for an onside kick hidden?

My suggestion involves one simple change to the NFL rules. Eliminate the return and give the kicking team a chance to earn more points.

So here is the thought process behind this. A team scores a touchdown and elects to kick the extra point from the 15 yard line. They then line up in kicking formation to start the next drive for the opposing team. In reality, they have two options. Kick an on-side kick or kick another extra point.

The NFL could award teams another point for kick-offs that go through the goal posts. If the team misses, the ball is placed at the 20 yard line and the receiving team simply takes over as if it were a simple touchback. If a team elects to kick an on-side kick the ball must travel 10 yards as it does now.

The simplicity of this single change would eliminate the kick-off return but would still provide teams with an option for an onside kick. Teams would line up the  same way they do now for an onside kick and the receiving team would still have the players on the field to defend it. The only difference is if the ball is kicked to the endzone, all play stops.

In my opinion this is a viable option for both the league and the fans. Points are exciting and the addition of a 2nd extra point possibility puts a higher emphasis on finding a solid kicker and at the same time reduces the risk of injury in kick-offs.

Now imagine 2:00 minutes left in a game. Your team is down by eight. They score a touchdown and now have a choice. Kick the extra point and then try for a tying extra point on the kick-off or attempt a two point conversion and then go for the win on the kick-off. The addition of that 2nd extra point attempt could have lasting impacts on games in the NFL.

So there it is, my reasonable, simple solution to the NFL’s kick-off problems in just over 500 words.