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John Elway admits fourth-and-15 is “gimmicky,” but safer

Darin Gantt

Giants co-owner John Mara is already on the record as being opposed to the “fourth-and-15” alternative for onside kicks, though that’s hardly surprising given the rather traditional way Mara has built a roster lately.

But for Broncos executive John Elway, the proposal to give teams a chance to convert a low-percentage play instead of trying a no-percentage play is exciting.

His background as a quarterback who could pull off late-game situations — and his experience as an Arena League owner — gives him another perspective.

“Sure it’s a little bit gimmicky from what we’re used to but the whole game is changing,’’ Elway said, via Mike Klis of KUSA. “So, changing the mentality, especially with the defensive players and making it a safer league, which is good. The onside kick you’re twice as likely to get hurt as on a scrimmage play so there’s player safety involved there.

“And the bottom line is, you give your team a chance to come back when you’re behind.’’

While the league’s old guard might resist, eventually the game has to adapt, and this proposal seems to have few downsides beyond the chance of penalties leading to automatic first downs. Of course, it was someone else’s idea first (the AAF), and the NFL also seems resistant to do anything that wasn’t originally their brilliant plan.