While kickoffs can provide some moderate entertainment now and again, it happens with so little frequency it's not even worth the trouble. After moving the kickoff to the 35-yard line, nearly 60 percent of kickoffs result in a touchback. This means the majority of plays are actually non plays. If kickers with legs are going to be booting kicks to the back of the end zone every time, what is the point of having them at all?
Plus, kickoffs actually kill a number of high-school children each year. According SB Nation writer Roger Sherman, of the seven high school football deaths that occurred in 2015, three of them happened during kickoffs. Imagine grown men twice those high school kids' size flying at each full speed—pretty scary.
Moving the kickoff spot has made the sport safer, but the number of players good enough to make the kickoff an exciting play is limited to just a few. There's no clear argument for keeping it around when a quarter of the concussions in the Ivy League Conference in 2015 occurred on kickoff returns. Let's just put the kickoff out of its misery.
Former NFL referee and FOX Sports analyst Mike Pereira says eliminating the kickoff would strip a fundamental part of the game. Not every return results in a touchdown, but when it does happen—it's game-changing. The entire momentum of a game swings, whether it gets fans into a frenzy, or sucks the life out of a stadium. The move would also eliminate the onside kick—a key play for many teams to change momentum, or save game in the final seconds.
Detroit tailback Ameer Abdullah is just one of several players who credit kickoff returns for changing momentum, capable of thrusting teams to victories and fans out of their seats. Gale Sayers, Brian Mitchell, Devin Hester—these are some of the marquee players who have changed games with their performances on kickoffs.
Eliminating kickoffs would rob players of their chance to shine, and deny NFL fans from seeing their greatness. The NFL needs to keep the kickoff.