Potential Kickoff Rule Change Gets Dolphins Attention

Posted Dec 7, 2012

Dolphins special teams players share their thoughts on a rule change proposal to eliminate kickoffs.

Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league’s competition committee will look at a potential rule change that would eliminate kickoffs, but the idea doesn’t sit well with some key Dolphins special teams players.

Under the proposal, which Goodell brought up in a Time magazine story and reiterated before Thursday night’s Denver-Oakland game, the team that scored would be given the ball at its own 30-yard line on fourth-and-15 and have the option of going for the first down or punting the ball away.

“All I know is it’s another job lost,” said Marlon Moore, a key member of the coverage units. “I didn’t know anything about that, but I don’t want that to happen. It’s a play in football, just like any other play that’s dangerous. If that’s the case, if they’re going to eliminate kickoffs, they would have to eliminate a lot of other dangerous stuff in my opinion.”

For kick returner Marcus Thigpen, the new rule would eliminate a big chunk of his job. Sure, he still would be able to return punts and even contribute on offense, but he’s already shown this season he can make an impact on kickoff returns with a 96-yard touchdown at Buffalo.

“Until it comes to pass, I don’t know how I feel about that,” said Thigpen, who signed with the Dolphins out of the Canadian Football League in January. “That’s pretty much how I got my job here. For them to take it away ... I really don’t know. It would take away half of my job.”

Kicker Dan Carpenter is another player who would see his job description change with the new rule.

“They’re not taking the vote of all the kickers to see whether they’re going to change it or not ... I would say no, for the fact that you are taking something out of the game that has been in the game of football,” he said. “You’re not just changing something, you’re totally eliminating one whole play. It would be like saying on offense you can’t run the ball anymore, you have to just throw the ball every time. You’re taking something out of the game that’s been in the game forever.”

The idea behind the rule change would be to increase safety and eliminate the risk of concussions on kickoffs.

The league already took a step in that direction last season when it moved the kickoff line from the 30 to the 35 to encourage more touchbacks.

That was one rule change Moore had no problem with.

“That’s not bad,” he said. “They got accomplished what they wanted to accomplish with it and I mean just eliminating some of the hellacious hits that go on. But eliminating it altogether, that’s a bit questionable to me.”

From an offensive standpoint, quarterback Matt Moore said the challenge of trying to convert a fourth-and-15 to retain possession would make things interesting.

“I think I’m one for tradition, but I understand if they’re trying to make the game safer,” Matt Moore said. “I get it. But I’d like to see it stay the same. But it’d be interesting. There’d be some schemes that I’m sure that coaches would come up with, some different things, but, I mean, how often are you going for it on fourth-and-15 or whatever it would be? It would be interesting, but it would be crazy. I can’t even think about that right now.”

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