Well I suppose the headline kind of says it all, doesn’t it? As we have talked about a couple of times this offseason, we are in a period of the game of football in which it is experiencing something of an evolution in the name of making it a safer sport, and there is some uncertainty as to how well it will resemble what we once knew by the time that process finishes.
Throw former special teams ace Steve Tasker in the camp that includes those who believe that the kickoff is one of the elements of the game that is about to go the way of the dodo. As an aside, the dodo was a pretty cool animal.
Though a wide receiver by trade, Tasker only ever caught 51 passes during a 13-year career and yet was named to the Pro Bowl seven times, and was a first-team All-Pro from 1991 to 1995. He has even been a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame. How is that possible? Special teams, of course. Mothers, teach your children how to beat a jammer.
He will actually be part of a league meeting that will functions as something of a consultation about the future of kickoffs. The NCAA has recently adopted a rule that allows kickoffs short the goal line to be fielded for a touchback within the 25-yard line, and this is a rule that could head for the NFL someday.
Tasker told the Buffalo News that a number of standout special teams players as well as select current special teams coordinators will be gathering in early May to discuss matters. It’s unknown if that includes Pittsburgh Steelers coordinator Danny Smith, though we probably would have heard of it if he was going to be there.
Tasker told the paper that he doesn’t believe the elimination of kickoffs is simply “on the horizon”, but in fact just “around the corner”.
While he expressed his belief that the kickoff is going to go away at some point in the near future, he also suggested that he expects the NFL to come up with an acceptable alternative, and presumably he intends to be a part of the process of finding that alternative.
“Believe me, they’re going to come up with a creative alternative, something the fans will like”, he said to a skeptical audience. While he conceded that “it would be an enormous adjustment”, he suggested that they might even be able to find something that is better.
“If we can, you can bet that’s what they’ll do”, he said. “They’ll listen to you, they’ll listen to guys like me, they’ll listen to coaches and give you something better if you can imagine it and we’re hoping you do”.
While the kickoff might be on the way out, perhaps there is hope for some alternative that can still provide an interesting element of the game during a key element of possession changes. I honestly have a hard time imagining what that might be, however.