Eight games were all the Alliance of American Football League ever got, leaving us all to wonder if the Orlando Apollos would have closed it out with a championship.
While the Apollos' fates were left only to fathom, the AAF offered up an onside kick alternative that no doubt inspired proposals for NFL rule changes.
The latest is a proposal for teams to convert a fourth-and-15 situation rather than kicking off after a score.
Though AAF alterations might well have inspired proposed NFL rule changes, it's the harsh statistics of onside kick success that's likely the true inspiration.
Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kick attempts in the NFL were recovered in 2019, per NFL Research. As for fourth-and-15s last year, only seven were attempted and only two were converted, but it was still a higher percentage at 28.6.
With previous rules changes on kickoffs to make the game safer, the last-ditch effort of an onside kick has become far less probable.
For instance, last season was actually an improvement from 2018 when a meager four onside kicks were recovered in 52 attempts – just 7.7 percent, according to NFL Research.
Enter the newest proposal, which would see a team's offense attempt to convert a fourth-and-15 play from its 25-yard line following a score in lieu of going for an onside kick.
Diving deeper thanks to NFL Research, 21.2 percent of onside kicks from 1992 (when onside kick data became available) to 2017 were recovered. Starting in 2018, the kicking team was no longer able to get a running start and in the two years since, only a dozen attempts have been recovered in 115 tries – just 10.4 percent. In that same time span, five of 14 (36 percent) fourth-and-15 attempts were converted. Those stats obviously don't reveal the game situation and there are variables to consider.
But when an onside kick – which has always been a gamble – has such a slim chance of success, putting the ball in the hands of your quarterback might well be the preferred method.
In the winter of 2019, the AAF debuted its "onside conversion," which was an option if a team was trailing by 17 or more points with five minutes or less in the game. It allowed a team to follow a touchdown by trying to convert a fourth-and-12 play from its 28.
On Wednesday, owners will vote virtually on whether they like their chances with onside kicks or fourth-and-15s.