The NFL is almost upon us…

It’s just a few days to the start of the 2011-12 NFL season, which if the people who jump to conclusions are right, will be the last full season before we’re all turned to stone or drowned or sacrificed at Tikal, or something. I’m not really sure.

BUT, I am sure that there is a new rule in place that might be the end of football as we know it. Chicago Bears fans probably noticed it when Lovie Smith did this. It’s the new kickoff rule, that turns kickoffs into constant touchbacks.

Here’s why the rule is awful:

1) Everyone wants less kickoffs because people are getting hurt. Personally, I subscribe to this theory put forth by Freakanomics’ own Steven Dubner: People are getting hurt because space age equipment brings a feeling of invincibility with it. (Source) The point here is that slowing people down isn’t going to help. Put ’em in leather helmets and maybe people will learn to tackle like Ray Lewis.

2) Goodbye, most exciting play in football. Kickoff returns are awesome. It’s the whole reason people care about Devin Hester. It’s a play you’re not supposed to score one, so when it happens, it’s huge. The problem is that there’s too much risk with taking it downfield at all if you’re catching it 8 yards deep. Seems like a very inconsistent move from an NFL that seems bent on making the forward pass be king.

3) So many commercials. Remember how back in the day, a TD got scored then you went to the kitchen to grab a drink, but you always stayed in a spot where you could see if there was the off chance a big return might get broken? Well now that it’s just gonna be touchbacks, you’ll have to find a way to kill the 3-4 minutes between TD and any other plays. It doesn’t seem like much, but consider how long a 2-minute drill can feel when it’s marching against your team. Now multiply it by two, and factor in that all you’re seeing is 15-second sound bites telling you to buy, buy, buy and you see where I’m coming from.

All I’m worried about now is when the NFL turns into two hand touch with NASCAR-style ads plastered across their jerseys. The only upside to it is that people might finally start watching hockey and–when the cultural conciousness of the sport goes up–will stop yelling stupid things at games.

…A man can dream.

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