Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Cleveland Browns kick returner Joshua Cribbs and kicker Phil Dawson have rejected commissioner Roger Goodell’s plan to eliminate the kickoff, saying it will change the game drastically.
“Then they need to change football leagues or call it a different league if they do that,” Cribbs said. “It’ll change the game drastically. I couldn’t ever see that.”
Cribbs, who made a career from returning and covering kicks, said the plan to remove the kickoff is like uprooting the goalpost.
“Only play offense and defense, just like intramurals. Play indoors and put flags in our pants,” he added.
“I don’t think this suggestion makes sense,” Dawson added, echoing Cribbs’ sentiment.
According to the proposal floated by Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the kickoff would be replaced by giving the team the ball at its 30-yard line in a fourth-and-15 situation. The “kicking” team could punt or go for it.
The punt, which is considered to have fewer violent collisions than kickoffs, would become the default scenario. Trying to convert fourth-and-15 would replace the onside kick late in the game.
“It’s the same play. When the ball is 50 yards down the field, guys are running full speed and you get a lot of cross blocks and guys getting knocked out,” Dawson noted. “That doesn’t add up to me.”
Dawson also expressed belief that kickoffs are an integral part of the game.
“Absolutely. There are so much scheming, personnel matchups, strategy that goes into each and every kickoff that people will never understand,” Dawson said.
Putting premium on players’ safety, Goodell has already tweaked the kickoff, moving it to the 35-yard line to promote touchbacks. He also outlawed the three- and four-man wedge to reduce the worst of the collisions.