Whether the Alliance of American Football will be a successful football league is to be determined, but its rules have already made an impression on at least a few NFL folks — namely, the Denver Broncos, who proposed an alternative to the onside kick on Friday.
The rule change, which was among nine proposals submitted by NFL teams for 2019, would give a team the chance to convert what would essentially be a fourth-and-15 situation from its 35-yard line after a fourth-quarter score to retain the ball. Each team would be given one such opportunity per game, and the rule change would not eliminate onside kicks or kickoffs.
In the AAF, a team trailing by 17 or more points or by any amount with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter can attempt a fourth-and-12 conversion from its own 28-yard line after a score to retain the football.
New NFL kickoff rules have made recovering onside kicks near impossible — only four were recovered last season in total. Meanwhile, the likelihood of converting a fourth-and-15, while difficult, is much more probable.
And with teams going for it on fourth down with more regularity, gaining 15 yards with the ball in the quarterback’s hands to start off is a far more comforting scenario than relying on a lucky bounce off a squib kick that is very hard to perfect.
So props to the AAF for being innovative on this rule, and for the Broncos for bringing it to the table. The rule would need approval from 24 of the league’s 32 teams after the competition committee meets to discuss it later this month.
There’s always immediate skepticism as to whether the league will agree to such a drastic rule change, but from an entertainment standpoint — or from the standpoint of a fan who wants to increase the likelihood of late-game comebacks — giving teams another option besides the onside kick is appealing.
The bulk of the other proposals made on Friday sought to expand replay review, though the Kansas City Chiefs did follow through on their desire to change overtime procedures after falling in the AFC Championship Game to the New England Patriots.
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