John Mara is only competition committee member opposed to onside kick alternative

Michael David Smith

The “fourth-and-15” alternative to the onside kick appears to have a good chance of passing at this week’s owners’ meeting.

That’s because Giants owner John Mara told reporters that he is the only member of the competition committee opposed to the proposal, which would allow teams to choose not to kick off after a fourth-quarter score and instead attempt one offensive play from their own 35-yard line. If that play goes for 15 yards, the team keeps the ball. Other than Mara, the rest of the competition committee is in favor of the idea.

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For the new rule to be implemented, at least 24 owners would have to vote for it. It’s possible the owners will vote it down, but usually a rule proposal that has the support of a large majority of the competition committee gets support from the owners as well.

Still, some old-school owners hate anything that comes across as gimmicky, and that’s what Mara thinks of the onside kick alternative.

“What are we, the Arena Football League?” Mara said of the rule.

That mindset is why the NCAA had two-point conversions decades before the NFL did: Some owners, particularly those from the families that have owned teams for more than half of the NFL’s 100 seasons, are reluctant to change rules. If eight or more owners agree with Mara, the onside kick will remain the only way for losing teams to get the ball back after scoring in the fourth quarter.

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