After witnessing former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand suffer a spinal cord injury that happened on a kickoff, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano thought of ways to reduce injury on kickoffs. Schiano has met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to explain some of his ideas. On Friday, Schiano explained his thought and reasons to the local media.
A lot of players and coaches have suggested the NFL find ways to make kickoffs in the league safer. But not many – if any – have such a personal reason behind the change as does Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano.
In a story yet to be published by Time Magazine NFL commissioner Roget Goodell said Schiano, while at Rutgers, proposed some ideas that go against NFL tradition, but could make the game safer.
Schiano spoke about his ideas and meeting with Goodell on Friday during his afternoon press conference.
“That happened before I was head coach of the Bucs,” Schiano said. “It happened when I was still at Rutgers. I was with commissioner Goodell and we were talking about it. He expressed his concern about the health of the players in relation to the kickoff play. Certainly with my experience with Eric LeGrand I had similar feelings. This is just something that I dreamed up and as I said to him I am not sure that all the details are there. You got to find the percentage. I think the percentage of an onside kick is about 15 percent. So you want to make sure that whatever that fourth-and (blank) is, it is about 15 percent over a bunch of years. And that would be the ideal amount of yardage needed. So at least you have an onside kind of equivalent percentage wise. I think you can have a lot of exciting stuff. You open the game with a blocked punt or you open a game with – who knows what could happen, right? “
While all the details are still not revealed, part of what Schiano suggested, as an alternative to a kickoff is that teams would get the ball on their own 30 yard line with the opportunity for one play to either try and convert a still undetermined specific amount of yardage, or punt the football.
Schiano told the media that making such a drastic change wouldn’t go over well with some, but thinks it is worth going against tradition in order to prevent catastrophic injuries.
“Yes, and I understand traditionalists don’t agree, but there used to not be the forward pass too,” Schiano said. “The game would be pretty boring without it. I am not saying it is right or wrong I am just saying you got to be able to think outside and whatever is best for the players. At the end of the day, these guys are the ones that are putting it on the line. It is not the coaches. It is none of us. It is the players that bodies go; it is a violent game and that’s one of the things I love about it is the physical part of it. There are areas that are more susceptible to injury.
"One of the things that when I was researching I think it was like in the kickoff rules 17 percent of the catastrophic in juries happened on kickoffs. Yet it is only about six percent of the plays in the game. Well that’s disproportionate right? Things like that are reasons that led me to that, but obviously it is a personal thing with me because Eric LeGrand.”
According to reports, the new rule may be explored in the spring by the NFL Competition Committee.
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