The most dangerous thing in all of sports -- excluding combat sports -- is the kickoff in football. Even if you played football on a piddly high school level, you know how brutal it can be. You really get to see how nasty it is when watching an NFL kickoff while standing on the field. The cracking sounds you hear resemble large trees snapping in half. Except those are the skulls of humans making contact at high speeds.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week floated the idea of eliminating the kickoff. Good for him. It would be one of the smartest things he ever did as commissioner.
The short version: Kickoffs would be replaced by fourth-and-15 at the scoring team's 30-yard line. You could either punt or go for it. There would be one play to gain 15 yards and retain possession.
In speaking to people around the league, there is real support behind the idea. One general manager estimated that 70-80 percent of all team executives would support the change. Another general manager said while that might be true, there are enough old-school people in the sport who hate the idea, and could raise so much stink, it could intimidate owners not to pass such a change.
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And that is what you hear from traditionalists: Such a change would be too drastic and change a basic aspect of the sport.
"Why don't we just call our sport the National Arena League," said one of the general managers I spoke to.
There are two main problems with that sort of argument, the argument that you're changing a basic part of football.
First, Goodell's move is about player safety, and while the league is definitely hypocritical in some aspects of this -- wanting an 18-game season while preaching safety, for example -- there are several basic things the league can do to make the game safer. Eliminating the most violent play in the sport is one of them.
This is the 21st-century aspect of the sport. The thousands of player lawsuits are forcing the NFL to change and the NFL, smartly, figures it had better get ahead of it.
Second, and maybe most important, the sport has made far more radical changes. Remember, decades ago, the forward pass was considered a radical change. Increasing to a 16-game regular season was radical. Integrating the sport was considered a drastic change to the sport.
The NFL has survived terror attacks, wars, gambling scandals, Whitney Houston lip-synching. It will survive this.
And that change is coming. You can count on it.