NFL Rule Change: Should Roger Goodell Replace Kickoffs With 4th And 15? [POLL]

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 12/06/12 04:15PM EST

Another rule change may be hitting the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to TIME magazine for a cover story in this week's issue. There, he discusses an NFL rule change that would eliminate kickoffs entirely.

Many feel these plays lead to violent and dangerous collisions. Indeed, former Buffalo Bills linebacker Kevin Everett and former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand were each paralyzed (in Everett's case, temporarily) on kickoff plays.

However, the NFL rule change Goodell is considering goes beyond a simple elimination of kickoff plays. The commissioner is currently looking at a proposal created by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, who coached LeGrand at Rutgers. Schiano has suggested giving the scoring team a 4th-and15 from their own 30-yard line. The team can then elect to punt the ball or try to get the first down.

"The fact is, it's a much different end of the play...It's an off-the-wall idea. It's different and makes you think differently. It did me," Goodell told the magazine.

This potential NFL rule change counters what league spokesman Greg Aiello said just last year. Back in 2011, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told Comcast SportsNet New England that he thought the NFL would eventually change the rules and eliminate kickoffs entirely. This came after the NFL had already moved kickoffs up to the 35-yardline, creating more touchbacks and fewer collisions.

"That's what they told us," Belichick said at the time. "I'm not speaking for anyone else. That's what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play."

However, Aiello responded back that the league did not necessarily want this NFL rule change.

"(Chairman of the Competition Committee) Rich McKay and (NFL Vice President) Ray Anderson say that's not accurate," Aiello wrote in an email to CSN New England. "They said the Competition Committee's position was that they wanted to 'shorten the field' and that the movement of the kickoff line would potentially reduce the number of kickoffs to be returned. They said they are unaware of anyone saying that it was intended to 'eliminate' the kickoff return."

In fact, at least one major publication thinks this is all a ploy. Chris Chase of USA Today wondered if Goodell mentioned this specific 4th-and-15 NFL rule change in order to gauge public opinion.

"If it gains support, then go with it," Chase wrote. "If people don't like it (and I don't think they will), when a change eventually comes, that new rule won't feel as revolutionary as Schiano's proposal. It's classic expectations management."

What do you think of this potential NFL rule change? Take our poll below.

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