Advertisement

If NFL keeps new kickoff approach, it will need lower levels of the sport to embrace it, too

The NFL has dramatically changed the kickoff, at least for one year. Georgia coach Kirby Smart already has acknowledged that college football could follow suit.

The NFL should want them to do it, if the NFL decides to keep the new kickoff.

For years, the NFL has argued that the safety rules it incorporates will trickle down to lower levels of the sport. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. The NFL, although it won't openly admit it, wants to minimize the risk of a high-speed collision resulting in permanent paralysis or worse. It should want college football to do the same thing, because permanent paralysis or worse during a big-time college football game could have the same impact that permanent paralysis or worse during an NFL game could have. Specifically, parents will stop letting their kids play football.

There's another reason for the NFL hoping college football follows suit. It will be easier to find players who have the skills to thrive in the NFL's new kickoff environment if they've been doing it in college.

For both reasons, the NFL should want high-school football to adopt the new model, too. The problem is that it could be harder for high-school kickers to consistently hit the 20-yard landing area. Maybe high-school football will need to do something different, either using a bigger target zone or moving the kick closer.

Regardless, the sooner this new kickoff spreads, the better for the NFL.

First, the NFL has to show a true commitment to it. For now, it's a one-year experiment. There's no guarantee it will continue beyond 2024. If/when it becomes a permanent change, it will be important for the NFL to get lower levels of the sport to embrace it, too.