Former Vikings coach Bud Grant, inducted into the Hall of Fame, at 95 years old is almost the same age as the NFL itself. But he hasn’t finished suggesting how the league can improve the quality of the game.
Grant told Minneapolis Star Tribune that he wants to get rid of the boring moments in every game, especially late game squats, fair punt catches and touchback kickoffs.
“I complained to people that when the team that was behind was running out of time out, the quarterback starts to kneel and the fans are leaving,” Grant said. The answer has always been, “There’s nothing you can do about it.” I kept thinking about it and decided, “Yes, there is. The offensive team must make a yard – 1 yard – or the clock will stop. Several things can happen when trying to make a yard. You can get a scarecrow. You can fumble. You may receive a fine. And you keep fans interested.”
Grant, a four-time Gray Cup winner who is also in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, also wants the NFL to follow the CFL’s lead in punts.
“I have attended enough meetings to know that the NFL wants to avoid the recognition that Canadian football is the best at anything. However, they should follow Canada and take a fair catch,” Grant said. “There is no fair catch in Canada, but coverage must also give the returner 5 yards. People in the NFL hear this and say, “This will increase the number of injuries.” A 5 yard pillow makes a big difference. I believe that there will be no real increase in injuries, and the punt game will become an interesting game.”
Grant also wants to remove incentives for touchbacks at the start of a match.
“Why bother if your goal is to make the kickoff the most zero in football? They say it’s for safety. Injuries happen in every game,” Grant said. “They made a few changes to how you can block early in the game. They can keep those. But you wait three minutes after the timeout, they come back, start, take the ball to 25. It’s ridiculous. Bring the kickoff back 5 yards. [to the 30]and if you don’t pull it out, you won’t get the reward of 25. You get the ball at 15.”
Unfortunately for Grant, the NFL is prioritizing injury reduction in its rule changes, and kickoffs and punts are at the top of the list of games the NFL wants to make safer. And this means that there is no chance that Grant’s rules will be implemented. And Grant’s proposal to eliminate kneeling could also increase late-game injuries. So it’s safe to say that the NFL won’t bring Grant on as a rules consultant, no matter how passionate he is about raising the sport’s recreational value.