Extra Point Potentially Kicking the Bucket

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, made some comments to the NFL Network  in January that did not go unnoticed.  He said that the extra point was basically guaranteed and as such, failed to add excitement and energy to a football game.  There is now a proposal to have extra-point kicks moved back from a comparatively short kick of 20 yards to a much longer 43 yard kick.  Goodell and others have also considered just eliminating the extra point all together.  The reasoning that continues to be cited for attempting to change this longstanding rule stems from a statistic of last season – of 1,267 PATs only 5 were missed.  Only 0.39% of extra point attempts were missed, or, from the opposite perspective, 99.61% of extra point attempts were made.  The argument is that if one of the integral scoring parts of NFL football is successful 99.61% of the time, what does it actually add to the game?

The extra point has been in a fixture in NFL football and oftentimes people are not so fond of change, particularly when tradition is valued so highly.  Yet in the unending quest to make events more interesting (subsequently drawing in more viewers and higher advertising rates) the commissioner has to consider these proposals about the PATs.  One of the proposals that has generated more interest does away with kicking the extra point at all.  If this proposal were enacted, a touchdown would automatically be worth seven points instead of the current six.  Then, if a team so desired, they could try and run or pass the ball into the endzone for an eighth point – but if they failed to do so the seven points from the touchdown would be reduced to six.  Apart from Roger Goodell, as noteworthy a figure in the NFL as Bill Belichick would likely support this proposal.  In January the famous Patriots coach also = commented on how the extra point was far too automatic and that he would be in favor of it becoming less of a guarantee.

Apart from diehard traditionalists, there is a considerable group that has issue with these new proposals.  This is, of course, the kickers themselves.  Adam Vinatieri, the place kicker for the Indianapolis Colts, is one of the outspoken critics of the proposal.  Vinatieri says that moving the extra point kick back twenty yards will not improve the game at all and that it is likely to cause more injuries – a good point for him to argue with the recent heavily covered injury concerns in the NFL.  Other vocal opponents to the proposal include Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker and Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, who feel that kickers are being penalized for being too efficient and are being phased out of the sport.

The reaction from the fans would be an interesting one to see.  Football is an American pastime, and small rule changes are made with relative frequency, but how would the loyal fan base feel about a substantial change in the scoring of the game?  There is no doubt in my mind that the extra points are far too certain and are very (very) seldom the cause of any excitement or drama in an NFL game.   Whether or not the game would be better without them remains to be seen.

Check out an article about the kickers’ reactions at ESPN and another article about the proposals from CBSSports.

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