Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is the Extra Point On It's Way Out?

While it has been overshadowed by the Richard Sherman incident, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s push to eliminate the extra point attempt is picking up steam.

The idea of eliminating the PAT is not exactly a new proposition.  It’s been reported that Goodell has expressed his desire to forgo the extra point at owner’s meetings in years passed.  It is unclear how much support he has among owners at this time.

If you look at the PAT from a pure numbers standpoint, its tough to argue against the fact that kicking an extra point has become nothing short of a formality.  Out of the 1,267 extra points attempted in 2013 regular season, four were blocked and only one was missed.  This puts the extra point success rate for this past season at 99.6%. That’s about as automatic as it gets.

If you look at it that way, would getting rid of the extra point all together really matter?  Would it even have an effect on the game?

The most likely outcome of a PAT-less NFL would see seven point touchdowns with the option to attempt the two-point conversion, which would either add or subtract a point from the seven, depending on the outcome.  That still doesn’t seem like a very big deal.  Another option would be to move the extra point back, making it a little more difficult than the 19 yard field goal it is currently.

In my opinion, the biggest issue with eliminating the extra point is what that opens the door to in the future.  My worry is that after completely removing a part of the game such as a PAT, the idea of getting rid of the other aspects, such as the kickoff, would seem much more plausible.

The kickoff has already been targeted by the rules committee, which resulted in it being moved up 10 yards. The closer kickoff caused a stir when it was first adopted, but those complaints have largely faded away.  Removing the kickoff would not only eliminate the potential for a game-changing kickoff return but would also directly affect the future of countless players in the league. There are guys like Matthew Slater of the Patriots, who, if not for the kickoff, would go from being a Pro-Bowler to being out of a job.

Although I’m somewhat indifferent to the idea of the extra point being eliminated in itself, I’m against it because I know it will undoubtedly open the door to more drastic changes; changes that will have much more substantial effects on the game as a whole.

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