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Kicking Off: Don't worry, the most dangerous play in football is still quite entertaining

There are a few more touchbacks, but still tons of brain smashing kickoff returns!



"OK, so here's what we're gonna do, gang. After we kick the ball, all of you... well everyone except for our skinny little kicker, is going to run fast, pretty much as fast as you can, down the field. There will be 11 guys ahead of you and I don't want you to run in any direction but straight ahead and if someone gets in your way, run into him. Oh yeah, and you should still be at a full sprint when you do this. Try to tackle the guy with the ball. He'll be going at full speed, too. And, just a quick FYI... one of you is likely to break something. Probably your collarbone. Maybe a femur. I'm not sure, we'll have to wait and see. All right, go get 'em!"

No high school, college or professional football coach would actually says this to his players because no one likes getting his femur snapped, but this is nevertheless the most direct, efficient and truthful instructions as to how to conduct a football kickoff, far and away the most violent, and potentially most entertaining play you'll see in a football game. While it's no secret that football, despite all its glory, allows players to perform physical acts that would otherwise be considered felonious, the kickoff is where it all comes to a head. And it's also why NFL players, each year beefier and faster than the prior, are no longer too keen on kick returns and why the league pushed the kickoff spot up five yards in the hopes of creating more touchbacks and less smashed brain matter.

There were a lot of sports-talk chatterboxes chattering on about how this rule was going to all but terminate the kickoff return and, in turn, football as we know it. We'd see every kicker punch it through the back of the end zone kick after kick, rendering useless the sinewy speed of NFL kick returners, these guys were saying. They were wrong.

About half of the kickoffs in the opening weekend resulted in touchbacks, as compared to roughly one-third for all of last season. So, OK there were more touchbacks, but where these blathering idiots were really wrong was in the excitement department, given that three players took kickoffs all the way to the house during this first week alone.

Don't expect the NFL to move the kickoff back anytime soon because these guys might be inordinately large human beings, but they're not idiots. Not most of them, anyway. The NFL kickoff is essentially 22 of the world's largest and fastest men sprinting toward each other, creating collisions strong enough to fuse together titanium. Or something like that. I'm not a scientist. But the point is that kickoffs are insanity personified. This shit is so dangerous that teams - even at the college level - won't practice kickoff coverage at full speed out of fear of injuries.

But don't you worry, Mr. Chuck Bloodluster, there is still plenty of violence to be seen, even if you sometimes have to suffer through the boredom of watching a grown man bend to a knee in his own end zone. And if you're bored, you can always go run into an oncoming SUV and get a taste of an NFL kickoff. Something tells me that you'll opt for the comfort of the couch, though, won't ya?

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