Monday, August 9, 2010

Drop Kicks in American Football

In a month the 2010 NFL season will be upon us. Football (and I mean American football, for my overseas friends) is one of the world's most brutal sports. And, for whatever reason, it gets somewhat of a bad rap internationally. Often I hear the complaint, "why is it called football?" and, I must admit, such complaints make me chuckle.

To the international community, "football" is, as we call it in the United States, soccer. More accurately, football is "association football" (the term "soccer" comes from some weird abbreviation of this). Even more accurately, there are two international sports that are properly known as football: association football and rugby football. Despite the general belief, American football is not, nor has it ever been, related to or descended from association football/soccer. What it is, like Canadian football (and to an extent, Australian football), is an evolution of rugby.

And, in typical rebel fashion, we Americans played around with the rule-sets of established conventions until "rugby football" became two distinct sports in the United States: rugby and football (how's that for stating the obvious?).

But, such is not the purpose of this rant. The purpose of this rant is to propose an idea to bring back the all-too-forgotten aspect of American football: the drop kick. For despite it's legality in the National Football League, it has only been used one time in professional football since 1948. Doug Flutie, in the last play of his professional career (which spanned three football leagues), kicked a drop kick for an extra point, no doubt the result of a wink-wink by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

*If you're not a hardcore football fan, and you happen to still be reading, there's really no point in continuing on.

In short, I'd love to see the move make a comeback, if only to add more strategy to the game. I have no solid idea how to implement and encourage such a return, but what if American football did borrow a page from association football (cough, soccer, cough) and allow the ball to be advanced in any direction by drop kick (by any player) once the line of scrimmage has been passed?

Such a rule might make American football a tad too chaotic (and lead to even more injuries), but how cool would that be?

Obviously, you wouldn't want to curtail the existing rules for the drop kick, so it would have to remain an option for a field goal or a PAT. And as long as the drop kick is attempted from behind the line of scrimmage, that shouldn't be too hard to allow (or enforce). Naturally, since drop kicks touch the ground, they would not be allowed as a form of punt.

There would probably also need to be a differentiation between drop kicks-for-score attempted behind and beyond the line of scrimmage. 2 points for beyond, 3 points for behind (keeping it in line with field goals) sound good? That would also afford the possibility of drop kicks as PATs to become rather interesting (1 or 2 points, depending on where it's done? Unlikely, sure, but why not? Drop kicks are already highly unlikely).

Then consideration for what to do with missed drop kicks-for-score would need to be had. Maybe beyond the line of scrimmage, a drop kick-for-score is a live ball and, unlike a kick from scrimmage, can be advanced by the kicking team? Drop kicks that go out-of-bounds are placed at the point of dropkick. Drop kicks that go out of bounds in the end zone result in a change of possession and a touchback.

Whoa... that just convoluted the game, didn't it? Forget I mentioned anything.


Brian Miller said...

ha. that is ok, we have a way of making rules that convolute the game...

i did see flutie make that was a cool throw back...but lets do try to keep it simple...

Alan Burnett said...

This was about as fascinating and as gripping as most of England's matches in the World Soccer Cup. I am going to read it again : and indeed I will keep reading it again and again .... until I understand it.

Baino said...

Ha! How can they call if football when the ball hardly ever sees a foot. Aussie Rules (entirely different game of course) still uses the drop kick but these days it's more a term of insult than a footy play. As for it being one of the world's most brutal sports? C'mon with all that armour, put em inn an NRL game then tell me they can cut the mustard.

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