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2020 Offseason Questions: Is An Onside Kick Alternative Inevitable (And Would You Support It)?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Would you be in support of an onside kick alternative, and do you believe its eventual acceptance is inevitable?

Yesterday, the owners agreed, rather than vote on the onside kick alternative proposal, to table it, which means that it remains open to be revisited at a later date—though that doesn’t mean it will necessarily come to a vote.

The alternative proposed was that, rather than attempting an onside kick, a team could choose, after scoring, to retain possession of the ball at their own 25-yard line, given fourth-and-15 odds. If they convert for a first down, then they continue on as normal. Failure to convert results in a turnover on downs, as any fourth-down failure would.

From a personal standpoint, while there is something to be said about the failure of requiring a losing team to ‘earn’ a possession, I do support an onside kick alternative proposal. I always try to keep the perspective that the rules of the game are only the rules simply because we decided that that is what they are, and I don’t treat them as sacrosanct. If another idea makes the game better, I will support it.

I don’t know if this particular proposal will pass, but I believe something that is an alternative to attempt an onside kick is indeed an inevitability. Not this year, but in the relatively near future. I think that pressure would be greater if the XFL manages to be revived and continues to put pressure on the NFL to reconsider its own rules.

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