The Solution: Either Have Kickoffs Or Eliminate Them

NFL rule changes galore!  Roger Goodell just can’t steer clear of controversial rule book territory.  No doubt concussions are horrible on the gridiron, but is tinkering with kickoffs really the only “solution” the NFL board of executives would consider?  It’s time to address the dull reality facing us today: kickoffs have become the most boring play to watch in the NFL.

It’s no surprise that the value of a return man has diminished since 2011, when kickoffs were moved from a team’s 30 to 35 yard line.  According to espn.com, we saw a 43% drop in the number of reported concussions between 2010 and 2011.  What a significant difference five yards can make.

Kick return yardage is also drastically decreasing.  In 2010, there were 16 players who returned kickoffs for over 1,000 yards.  In 2015, that number shrank to a dismal two players (Ameer Abdullah and Cordarrelle Patterson).  Interestingly enough, neither made the pro bowl.

Image result for cordarrelle patterson kick return

Roger Goodell and his staff became a bit of a laughing stock over this past off-season when several teams expressed interest in exploiting the new rule change in a way that the league hadn’t anticipated.  The league’s thought process was that kick returners won’t want to run the ball out of the end zone as frequently since it’s harder to reach the 25 yard line than it is the 20.

But, some teams have kicked the ball short of the end zone, attempting to pin their opponent inside their 25 yard line.  And why wouldn’t a team try that?  After all, starting from your 25 yard line is better for the offense than starting at your 20 yard line.

This rule simply hasn’t worked, not the way the league wanted it to at least.  There are more kick returns this season than there were last year at this point.  In fact, baltimoresun.com reports roughly a 7% increase in the number of returned kickoffs.

Now, for some reason, kickoffs are immediately followed with a commercial break, which irritates fans very much.  Since most kickoffs aren’t even returned, the whole post-touchdown sequence is unfathomably boring.  Kickoff.  No return.  Commercial break.  Resume game.  Repeat.  No wonder fans aren’t tuning into games as much this season.

Don’t people miss the excitement of a well-executed kick return?  It was so much fun to see ten blockers pave the way for a speedy return man.  You could compare return styles.  Some are north/south runners, some are shifty, and some just have speed.  Not exactly the same adrenaline rush as taking a knee, or worse, watching the ball sail beyond the end zone.

The problem prevails: How do we best protect our players while still maintaining the integrity and explosive nature of the game?  Well, if the number of concussions in recent years is cut in half, then changing kickoff rules is only half a solution.  Even if there is only one concussion a season, how would you like it if you were that one?  Probably not too good.  There is no sensible rationalization for any amount of concussions if it results in permanent brain damage.  The perfect helmet is still far from its inception, if it ever arrives.

Image result for nfl kickoff

Maybe the rule change we need is to align the players on the field differently.  If concussions are occurring more so on kickoffs because players are flying down the field and colliding with one another, then reduce the distance that the kickoff team has to run down.  This will eliminate any high speed collisions, turning the kickoff into just another play.  This issue is no doubt about balance between safety and fun.  But by decreasing the frequency of kickoffs, it’s not exactly addressing the concussion problem; it’s merely trying to avoid it.

So yes, either have kickoffs where players don’t start so far from each other or eliminate them altogether.  We will not miss the spectacle of the kicker showing off his leg.

Yell0wSTaR is coming home!

So I’m not the EU LCS beat writer anymore, but I couldn’t resist snagging this topic.

(courtesy of DeoNade)

Since I started watching professional League of Legends, my favorite player has always been Bora Kim. To be honest, I had never really enjoyed watching eSports until Yell0wSTaR, xPeke, sOAZ, Cyanide, and Rekkles came together on the Rift. Then it truly felt like the end of Fnatic when 4 out of the 5 announced they were leaving, but I had faith in Bora… and season 5 started with an entirely new squad (and coach). I’m not sure the exact moment, but at some point in that Spring Split I realized that Bora Kim was easily the best team captain in Europe, and more than likely one of the best in the world. Season 5 was probably the single most entertaining season in Fnatic history, they had found a team that worked perfectly together, and was so good that they spent the latter half of the Summer Split trolling. (I can’t confirm that this is true… but Yell0wSTaR played Trundle support and that was definitely not a standard meta pick).

Imagine my sadness when after taking SKT T1 to 5 games at MSI, an 18/0 Split, and being the only Western team to break into the top 5 Power Ranking for worlds, Bora announced he would be leaving Fnatic to pursue a new adventure in North America. To me, Huni and Reignover leaving wasn’t surprising or particularly upsetting, as much as I respect both of them and their abilities, Huni’s arrogance on the rift was a consistent issue for Fnatic. Huni had the best TP ganks in Europe, but I will never un-see him feeding the bajeezus out of Smeb in Game 3 of the Worlds Semi-Finals. The second he locked in Riven I knew the game, series, and worlds run was over (though for a brief moment I hoped they were going to pull some tom-foolery and have Febiven play top Riven that game). Anyway- Bora announced he was leaving Fnatic, and I was blown away. He had been the rock that Fnatic rebuilt their franchise upon, and now he was leaving for a new adventure.

 

yello1

(courtesy of hoangbody.wordpress.com)

If there was ever any doubt how important Bora’s roll was with Fnatic, this split should negate that. Even with Febiven (who is probably tied for best Mid in Europe), Rekkles (who isn’t a hard carry ADC, but is insanely good regardless), and Spirit (who is individually a far better jungler than Reignover), Fnatic was stagnant and unimpressive. In 6 months Fnatic went from a well oiled machine to one of the least synergized teams in Europe, and I believe that with the return of Yell0wSTaR, we will see Fnatic return to a far more impressive state.

 

Now, I recognize that Fnatic/Yell0wSTaR have not officially announced Bora’s return to the team… but the evidence seems pretty compelling. The facts boil down to:

  1. Yell0wSTaR has left TSM to return to Europe.
  2. Fnatic has announced that Klaj will be moving to their challenger team.
  3. Before leaving for TSM, Fnatic offered Yell0wSTaR a massive salary (I can’t confirm a number, but I have seen transcripts of interviews where Bora states Fnatic offered him more money than TSM)
  4. To my knowledge, no other European teams have made or implied any changes to their Supports

To me this supports two potential theories:

  1. Yell0wSTaR will make a triumphant return home and will return to Fnatic
  2. YellowSTaR will take a leaf from XPeke and build a challenger team

Due to points 2 and 3 from above, I’m more inclined to believe he will be returning to Fnatic. The team and its fans love him, and frankly they need his guidance if Fnatic wants to get back on track and put this Spring behind them.

 

I’m expecting to hear the announcement before the end of this week, so to all you FNC fans out there lets cross our fingers and hope that our Glorious Leader is returning to his rightful throne.

#FNCWin