I hate “live” special teams at all-stars football games and I will tell you why in a moment.
First a disclaimer: I love all-star games in general, for selfish reasons. It’s the one time every year that you get to see the best prospects go against the best, and compare apples to apples for rankings purposes.
But I hate “live” special teams in these games, whether it’s the Under Armour or U.S. Army All-America games, or even the two junior all-star games in Georgia.
I hate it for two reasons: (1) I think special teams put the players at too much of an injury risk, especially when most of these kids haven’t played football in a month; and (2) special teams wastes too much of the valuable and limited practice times before the games when you really get to evaluate the prospects in one-on-one matchups.
I went to an all-star game last year and I think every practice session but two was canceled due to weather. And the two that were finished, they were shortened. And in those abbreviated practices, more than half the time was completely wasted with coaches focusing on getting kids a rehearsal at lining up on special teams – because many all-star games are usually decided on fluky special team plays.
So my proposal is to abolish live special teams at all-star games, and here’s how I would do it without ruining the integrity of the game:
- On kickoffs, all teams take over the ball at the 40-yard line (I had it at the 35-yard line but pushed it out a few more yards because I like points. Low-scoring all-star games are extremely boring to watch)
- On field goals and PATs, kickers do normal kicks but there’s no “live rush” permitted. It’s a dead play, except for the snapper, holder and kicker with 11 players on the field for both teams. The rest are just “frozen.”
- On punts, there’s no “live rush” and punt returner has to automatically fair catch the ball. It’s a dead play, except for the snapper, holder, punter and punt returner with 11 players on the field for both teams.
If player safety is truly important to the all-star game organizers, then this is something that they will consider. I’ve seen quite a few concussions and injuries in all-star games, and a lot of them happen not surprisingly on special teams.
What do you think? Please post below.