Word emerged on Thursday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have a whole new plan up his sleeve when it comes to curbing big hits on kickoffs. Essentially, kickoffs would die and be replaced by what would be fourth-and-long situations for the scoring team, with punts taking the place of the more dangerous kickoffs that have led to so many injuries.
John Harbaugh joined Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the idea being floated that would take kickoffs out of the game in order to prevent injury, last week’s tough loss to the Steelers and Robert Griffin III.
On the reported idea from Roger Goodell to eliminate kickoffs from the game:
“I think it’s ridiculous. Crazy. There’s other ways to keep guys safe. It’s an exciting part of the game. It’s been around since the game began. I’m not sure where that idea’s coming [from]. … I’m not with that at all.”
On why eliminating kickoffs would take away from the excitement of the game:
“I think [removing kickoffs] would make the game less exciting and less fun. They’ve already taken that out a little bit with the way they’re setting up the kickoff returns. In my mind, there’s other ways they can organize that and keep those long running head-to-head-collisions out of the game. They can definitely do that, but there’s too many great players — the Brian Mitchells of the world, the Devin Hesters of the world — there’s just too many great players, too exciting of plays. I’m watching NFL Films, I see them all the time. We can’t take that out of the game.”
On last week’s tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers:
“We didn’t finish. We didn’t finish in the fourth quarter, either side of the ball, like we needed to. We didn’t get a first down when we needed one. One first down, even a punt, would have been good. We didn’t get stops when we needed to. We didn’t keep them out of the end zone in the red zone at the end. Those are the things that cost you football games.”
On Robert Griffin III, whom his team faces this week:
“He’s a phenom. He’s a top-ranked quarterback in almost every statistical category, run and pass, in the National Football League as a rookie, so he’s doing it.”