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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

De-Emphasize Kicking Game
Would it surprise anyone when it is said that the players don't believe that the league is doing everything that it can to protect them from injury.  On the surface, increasing the number of season games from 16 to 18 games would mean more revenue for both the owners & the players, which is beneficial for all parties involved.  So we can expect that issue to get resolved by splitting a piggy-pie.  The reality is that the real issues related to players safety must focus on real changes within the league ... not just in providing simple carrots.  These changes are going to come from outside the NFL ... not from within it.     

I'll never forget the NFC championship game between the Saints & Vikings, where Erin Henderson got blind sided on a special teams return.  The Saint perpetrator pops up and whirls both hands on either side of his head, indicating the new state of the now loopy defenseless Henderson.  In that same game, we lost Cedric Griffin on the overtime kick off to a knee injury.  To be direct, neither Cedric nor Erin should of been exposed to these injuries but what was behind both injuries was compelling.  So what did the league do to prevent these injuries.  The answer is very little.  In my opinion the league tried to make changes but resolution can only come from real change.   Maybe, at best, the leagues changes were a band-aid approach.  Why?  Could it be that lower cost players just don't matter as much.  To be direct, I don't believe that our NFL league coaches are that callous, although some might be, however this is a league of economics.  The players in their heart know the score.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were all being spoon fed by the announcers and sold on the idea of the exciting punt (Devin Hester or Reggie Bush) or kick off return which is, "What the fan's demand".  You'd hear it all the time.  Special teams count for one-third (1/3) of the game.  If it were up to me, special teams would account for less than 1% of the game for no other reason than to protect the teams star talent.  The lunacy has gone so far as to have John Madden demanding a hall of fame slot be opened up for a punter (Ray Guy), where the argument now includes special team-er (Steve Tasker), all the while the NFL' Iron Man (Jim Marshall) gets stiffed by the Hall of Fame year after year.

Back in January of 1970, a kicker name Jan Stenerud served notice in Super Bowl IV.  They were absolutely right in stating that it changed the game for all time.  What resulted put tiny foreign soccer players into this leagues in the role of "Prime Stake", and in my opinion, it absolutely ruined this league forever.  We all sat by and watched it happen.  Before that time, and during the transition period that soon followed, the game was decided by "The Masters" that went by the names of Staubach, Tarkenton, Unitas & Bradshaw and a whole host of Hall of Famer's.  Let me tell you directly, the league wasn't reliant upon any kickers foot or in watching today's clock click & tick away uncontested.  How the hell did we get to this point and who is responsible for this lunacy.  Yep, you guessed it, a special teams Hall of Famer named Jan Stenerud.  

Let me be direct in saying this ... "Just because you had an idea doesn't mean that it was a good idea".  Let me give you an example.  How about Johnson's Great Society?  How about Welfare?  How about Bobbie Kennedy tossing his hair aside with his hand saying, "This shouldn't be ... America is the richest nation in the world"?  These are the idea's that have now made us the worlds greatest debtor nation just in the Minnesota Vikings short life time (since 1961).  The lists of bad ideas is endless.  Why is it that political systems never attempt to correct their mistakes?  Why is it that the NFL now mirrors that political system ... being driven by a bunch of soccer players rather than the hearts, minds and characters of football players.

Can't anyone still remember overhearing these words.  There's only 2 minutes & 13 seconds left on the clock.  Honey, I'll be right with you.  35 minutes later, that wife or mother was absolutely fuming waiting for that stupid game to end as there was still 13 seconds left on the clock, left in the hands of a master that was about to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat.  How I long for those days.

This is how the new kicking game goes down in my book.  It's time to take back control of the game.  As a starting point, only a place-kick at or beyond 50 yards will be good for 3-points.  Based upon statistics alone, if your kicker nails that kick, in my opinion, it's worth the 3 points.  If the league wide success rate exceeds 45% at this 50+ yard range, then the 3 point range automatically gets pushed back an additional 5 yards the following season.  Now if a coach decides to go for the points and kicks the 3-pointer too early, whether the kick is good or not, there will be ramifications.  You just might be putting the ball back into the hands of a master of the skill level of today's Payton Manning.  In addition, the new place kicking rule would include the Red Zone Rule.  Once the ball is spotted in the red zone, the value of the place-kick would now hold the grand value of 1-point, regardless of where you kick it.  If the ball never spots in the red zone during an offensive drive, any place kick between the 50+ yard-er and the new red zone rule, the value of that place-kick is brought down to 2 points.  Memo to league ... learn how to score a touchdown.  Now let's see what the masters ... coaches and players ... can do with this.  To be direct, fans want it all.  The heart break and the blood and guts of a Lombardi Power Sweep or some other masterful plan yet to be executed.  

De-emphasize the Jan Stenerud's field goal and in time the rest of the special teams night mare will take care of itself.  Wasn't this obvious to everyone?

It is acknowledged that there have been several special teams changes over the years.  In comparison, every one of those changes pail in comparison to the burdens placed upon the defense to enhance scoring in this league.  I say scoring in this league with tongue-in-cheek as the prime point scorers in this league are a bunch of soccer players that can kick a ball.  Somehow, special teams have been given a pass whereas defense can be gutted at the drop of a hat.   In my book, I would never want to see another 15 to 14 point contest where the victor was led by a soccer star that scored five (5) field goals.  Using these new rules, the victor of that contest would have lost the game 14 to 4, as the final 50+ yard-er that originally won the contest, wouldn't of even been attempted.

To be direct ... we want our league back.  Isn't soccer popular enough without the NFL reinforcing that kicking a ball is a manly sport.  The NFL is the sport of today's gladiators.  It's time to differentiate the NFL from a bunch of guys running around a field trying to avoid the dreaded yellow card.   Heck, with these new rules, you might even see a few more 2-point conversions as that additional point now might matter more and in a big way, especially earlier in the contest.   

I'd also like to see lasers on the top of the goal posts as I'm just not that partial to the unquestioned judgment of our officials.  I might be wrong but shouldn't laser light show up on the ball as it passes over a goal post on the replay.  Laser light also doesn't disperse like normal light so if it touches the ball, its good.  While you're at it, how about four (4) permanent cameras on each side of the goal line.  How many times are we going to argue about breaking the plane before we get that call right with cameras in universally correct fixed positions.     

Yes, my objective is to change the game for all time.  It's 4th down with the ball on the 1-1/2 yard line.  The coach knows that he has a stout defense held in his hip pocket as his reserve force.  Now how many coaches are going to send in that kicker in for 1-point chip shot, when there is the potential of 7 or 8 points only a yard and a half away?  The coach instinctively knows that it not time to put away his high priced talent base of scorers.  Now that is scoring the way football was meant to be played by realizing the rewards of the risk.  With high risk comes high reward.  How often do the coaches send in the place kicker now because it's the smart play to keep their job, rather than to do what everyone wants to do ... to take the risk?  To be direct, just the realization of today's thought process makes me sick.  This thought process of using a kicker is overly perverted and just might be why so many coaches are tossed upon the heap of history due to a false sense of security in this decision making process.  I wonder which pyramidal decision structure would actually sell more beer?  We are not paying billions for soccer bud!

So how do we curtail the insane kick off collisions & injuries.  The league took its first step by moving the kick off from the 30 to the 35 yard line, putting the kick 5 yards deeper into the end zone increasing the likelihood of a touchback.  To be direct, in this case the collisions can still occur as the return man waits until the last second before taking the knee.  The kickoff, even with this new revised NFL rule, needs allot more work as the kick return in time has to be regulated to the trash heap.  You might ask why?  The one word answer ... LIABILITY!  There is no contract in the world that will allow the NFL to perform lobotomies in return for the right to work for elevated financial rewards and, criminal action taken against the these unlicensed surgeons ... the ones wearing pads ... may soon follow too, as negligent behavior has no ground on which it can stand.   

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: May 4, 2011 

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