Did you feel the ground shaking yesterday?
Some experts claim we experienced an earthquake. Others say Casey Hampton merely fell out of bed. However, I have a far more scientific explanation. I read this article on Yahoo Sports and actually agreed with Bill Belichick.
The end is surely nigh.
As a card-carrying member of Steeler Nation, I’m conditioned to not believe a word coming out of Belicheat’s mouth. If his lips are moving, he’s probably lying. Sure he won three Super Bowls but curiously hasn’t won a playoff game since SpyGate broke. Coincidence? I think not.
That said, we have an even greater enemy than Belicheat and his New England Patriots. [intlink id=”8″ type=”category”]Roger Goodell[/intlink] and his never ending efforts to ruin both the great game of football and the Pittsburgh Steelers style of playing that game are by far the bigger threat. The Ginger Dictator passed a number of new rules over the off-season, all seemingly designed to take hitting out of a contact sport. None has come under more fire nor changed the game in a more egregious manner than the new kickoff rule.
If you’ve watched any of the preseason games, you may have noticed kickers booming kickoffs out the back of end zones with alarming regularity. No, they didn’t start taking those “special” vitamin shots Roger Clemens and his wife got from some high school drop out who keeps used needles in Coke cans. In an effort to reduce injuries on kickoffs, the NFL moved the kickoff up five yards and prevented the kicking team from getting a running head start.
The net effect of this change has been to render the return game moot. Hey, I’m not complaining. While the Steelers showed marked improvement under Al Everest last season, they’ve historically had terrible kick coverage dating all the way back to the days when Bill Cowher changed special teams coaches more frequently than Jennifer Aniston changes boyfriends. So anything to prevent another debacle like the Thursday nighter in Cleveland when Josh Cribbs single-handedly killed the Black and Gold on kick returns is A-Ok with me.
It does, however, fundamentally alter what we know as football. Seldom do all the talking heads in the media agree on anything but I’ve yet to hear one person support the new kickoff rules. During last week’s Philadelphia game, if you took a shot every time Terry Bradshaw bitched about kickoffs, you would’ve been smashed by the second quarter. Which no doubt would’ve made the combination of Bradshaw, Buck and Aikman infinitely more tolerable.
Bill Belichick hates the new rules. In fact, he’s said it’s all part of the NFL’s master plan to eliminate kickoffs altogether. I like my football old school but if it means ending this farce of a situation, I’m all for it. Just put the ball on the 20 and be done with it.
Belichick is also disenchanted with the extra point. He’s right, kickers have advanced to where it’s 99.9% automatic which makes it about as anticlimactic as the finale of LOST. I’d rather see teams forced to earn the extra points. His solution is to move kickers back five or ten yards to make it more difficult. I have a far better solution.
The non-Steeler highlight of my season last year was seeing Detroit Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh attempt an extra point. That same week, the Patriots’ Wes Welker was also pressed in to emergency kicker duties. If you watched HBO’s Hard Knocks series a couple years back, you may remember Chad Ochocinco bugging Marvin Lewis about getting a chance to kick in a preseason game. All this gives me what I’ll humbly call a brilliant idea.
Make players kick the extra point. Not kickers, actual football players. Kickers can still handle field goals but make the extra point different. The NFL used to force teams to designate an emergency quarterback, make them designate an “extra point kicker.” The caveat being the XPK has to be a position player.
I know, I know, all this talk of the Patriots immediately brings thoughts of “Can’t teams cheat by playing a kicker at WR for a meaningless snap or two?” Well, in order to prevent circumvention, state that the person who kicks extra points cannot also kick field goals. See, I have thought this through. Which is more than I can say for the Ginger Dictator and his hand-picked yes-men on the Competition Committee.
Once upon a time, kickers played other positions when they weren’t kicking. Let’s go back to the future. Want to put the excitement back into the most boring play in football? Make 350 pound defensive tackles and soccer star wanna-be wide receivers kick the extra points. Who’s with me?