Well, it’s that time of the year again. Just when the playoff picture is beginning to get a bit clearer and the National Football League fans are beginning to get excited, the league’s competition committee is dreaming up ways to change the game of professional football in an effort to make it safer for its participants.

The consensus of this committee once again this year is pretty much the same as it was at this time last year—the most dangerous part of the game occurs during kickoffs.

Last year the committee proposed to move the kickoffs five yards closer—to the 35 yard line instead of  the 30 and place a touchback on the 25 yard line instead of the 20—and were able to get half of their proposal passed by the vote of the owners. This year all kickoffs were from the 35 yard-line, but touchbacks still began play from the 20.

However, because a majority of the serious injuries still were occurring on the kickoff phase of the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is planning to discuss the elimination of the kickoff entirely and several proposals that enhance player safety to the competition committee when it meets this week, according to an article that appeared last week in Time magazine.

“Whenever anything comes out of the Commissioner’s office, I think it’s appropriate to consider it serious,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

“But every year, the competition committee will look at several proposals to enhance player safety, and certainly the kickoff play, probably disproportionately our most dangerous play, gets attention every year like it did last year.

“Coach (Greg) Schiano’s suggestion is one that has been proposed. Some folks think it’s very intriguing, and certainly the subject of some pretty vigorous discussion and debate,” Anderson continued.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano offered a scenario where, instead of kickoffs, teams can punt after a score or attempt to convert a fourth-and-15 from its own 30 yard line.

The reason this first-year NFL coach is so concerned is that when he was coaching at Rutgers, one of his players—Eric Le Grand—was paralyzed on a kickoff while Rutgers was forming a three-man wedge that already has been ruled illegal in the NFL.

“Some people would say let’s move the kickoff line forward even further,” Anderson said. “Another suggestion would be to put weight limitations on the players who can run down on the kickoff play—the theory being that lighter-weight guys colliding would be less detrimental than heavier-weight guys colliding with smaller-weighted guys.”

The competition committee makes a recommendation to the ownership on a rule and the head NFL coaches will have input on proposed changes at the meeting this week, but 24 of the 32 NFL owners are needed to pass a rule change.

Most of the head coaches and general managers that have commented on the Commissioner Goodell’s proposal agree that too many injuries are caused on kickoffs, but very few want to eliminate it entirely from the NFL.

One general manager believes that playing on three-day’s rest adds to the risk of injuries. This occurs mostly on team’s who are featured on Thursday Night Football after playing a Sunday game or those playing on Thanksgiving after a Sunday game.

The NFL could change the bye week schedules to insure that teams playing on Thursday are coming off their bye week. The same would hold true for Thanksgiving.

Another GM suggests that if the NFL really wanted to reduce injuries, it should consider scheduling fewer games for a season.

This Korner believes that kickoffs are an integral and exciting part of football and shouldn’t be altered dramatically. Special teams players love what they do and are aware of the safety hazard that accompanies their job.

We also believe Commissioner Goodell and the 32 NFL owners would not do anything that would hurt their precious revenue, like shorten the season.

What’s really ironic is that earlier this year Goodell proposed that the league shorten its training camp time and extend the season from 16 to 18 games. You could almost see the dollar signs dancing in his head.

And as far as Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano is concerned, he’s got to be some kind of a two-faced guy agreeing to reduce injuries by eliminating kickoffs and then ordering his team to blitz at the end of the game when the opponent that is beating his Buccaneers goes into the kneel-down Victory formation.

That could really cause serious injuries, especially to the opposing quarterback.

KWICKIES…Gillette Stadium, the site of the Monday Night Football game between our Houston Texans and the New England Patriots has been sold out for every game dating back to the 2002 season opener. During that span the Patriots have won 80 games, 10 more than any other NFL team.

The Houston Texans have no easy road ahead of them in the last three games of the 2012 season, having to face the surging Indianapolis Colts (9-4) twice, with Peyton Manning’s replacement lucky Andrew Luck at quarterback, plus the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) who are struggling to keep their dim playoff hopes alive.

The Dallas Cowboys fought a fierce physical and emotional battle Sunday at Cincinnati, rallying back from a 19-10 fourth period deficit to score a touchdown and a 40-yard game-winning field goal by Dan Bailey as time expired to nip the Bengals 20-19 and keep their faint playoff hopes flickering for another week. The team was grieving over the death of teammate Jerry Brown, who died in an auto accident early Saturday morning. The driver of the car, Dallas defensive lineman Josh Brent was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter. The Cowboys (7-6) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

The Seattle Seahawks’ defense, led by Orange’s Earl Thomas at safety, had another superlative effort at home Sunday, virtually annihilating the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 for their sixth straight win at home without a loss. The victory was payback for the 20-16 loss the Cards handed Seattle on opening day. Seattle (8-5) is now tied with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 wild card in the NFC and holds the tiebreaker because of last week’s 23-17 overtime victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.

Detroit’s 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night was their 22nd consecutive setback for the Lions at Lambeau Field, the longest streak in the NFL

The Houston Astros are diligently searching for a designated hitter for their upcoming maiden voyage in the American League. Believe it or not, their hottest prospect is former Astro slugger Lance Berkman, if he decides not to retire before the 2013 Major League season.

JUST BETWEEN US…Orange’s 71-year-old Marathon Man Ken Ruane finished second in the 13.1 mile (half-marathon) “Swamp Stomp” in the 60-years-and-older category held Saturday at Sam Houston State Park in West Lake, La. He came in 21st overall and when asked to evaluate his performance all Ken would say was “I finished.”