When I become king (soon, my children, soon), I will rid the land of the pestilence that has gripped it since the first person had the unfortunate idea to put a toe to a football. I think his given name was Binky. Or Darcy.
There will be no kickers in my world. No cheerful lads in size-6 cleats to affect games that have been fought and bled over by large, angry men with socialization issues.
We need to take the ‘‘foot’’ out of football. It’s the height of incongruity that a sport based on running, catching, throwing and hitting — especially hitting — completely changes course during a game to accommodate kickers. It’s like ‘‘Raging Bull’’ being interrupted intermittently by ‘‘Shakespeare in Love’’ clips.
You can call the new game anything you want. Armball. Concussionball. Whatever. Just not football.
The Bears are looking for a kicker to replace Cody Parkey, which is just about the kicker-est kicker name of all time. Parkey’s missed field goal in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles clanged off an upright and the crossbar in the final seconds. The NFL later said the ball had been tipped at the line of scrimmage, which only meant Parkey had kicked the ball too low. It was one of the most stunning losses in Chicago sports, and it banished him to the land of Leon Durham and Alex Gonzalez.
My prohibition on kickers isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to that miss, though I have no problem with anyone who has sworn them off forever after watching Parkey’s double-doink. They’ve agitated me for years. Their warmups even bother me. With the amount of time of time they spend practicing before a game, you’d think they were solving a Ph.D.-level math problem instead of kicking a ball.
All that practice looks like work. All that attention to detail looks intense enough to squeeze a miniature ship into a bottle. But what it really illustrates is that kickers don’t have enough to do. They don’t have many plays to memorize. While their teammates sweat, toil and slobber, what do kickers do? They ‘‘stay ready.’’
If I see one more kicker trying to find someone to celebrate with after making an extra point, I’ll need hospitalization. You made an extra point! Yay! Spray some champagne! Meanwhile, the rest of your teammates are thinking, ‘‘Ndamukong Suh just landed on me, and I have no feeling in three of my four limbs.’’
(In a previous life, a kicker must have kicked my dog. That’s all I can come up with.)
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After Parkey’s debacle, a Chicago beer company offered tickets to a 2019 NFL game to anyone who could make a 43-yard field goal, which was the distance of the miss. No one made it. This was held up as proof that kicking is harder than it looks.
Kicking might be difficult in its own way, but that’s not the point of my looming ban. It’s that kicking doesn’t belong. It’s radically different from the game that everybody else is playing on the field. It’s not football, just as spitting sunflower seeds isn’t baseball.
The Bears are going to waive Parkey when the new league calendar begins March 13, a move that was a given after his miss against the Eagles and all the other goalposts he hit during the season. They’ll need a replacement because the game dictates they have one. But, in the broadest sense, why? Why do we still have kickers? Because kickers were part of the game from its invention? Yeah, well, homes used to have butter churns, too.
If you were a defensive lineman who had just donated a few body parts to a hard-fought game, wouldn’t you be mad if you lost because of a teammate whose uniform is as clean as a doctor’s hands? Of course, you would be. You even might be resentful.
In the name of safety, the NFL has all but gotten rid of the kickoff. Touchbacks now dominate kickoff returns by a large margin. In the Morrissey household, we call this a good first step. Get rid of the kickoff and, while you’re at it, get rid of field goals, extra points and ‘‘Kickers Are People, Too’’ T-shirts.
Some of you might want to know about the fate of the kicker’s cousin, the punter, when I become king. My NFL will continue to need them. They’re integral to field position. They’re usually more athletic than kickers, which is to say they belong a little bit more. To sum up: Your jobs are safe in my kingdom, dear punters. That goes for you, too, long snappers.
What are kickers supposed to do in this new world I propose? They will be valuable contributors to society. They will become our statesmen, our doctors, our insurance brokers. They will marry, have children and play poker once a month.
Centuries down the road, their descendants might feel a strange stirring to kick something. They’ll have to settle for a soccer ball, an ass, a habit or a bucket.