ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Extra Point

The likelihood that the National Football League’s Point After Touchdown try, known as the PAT or the extra point, will be successful is akin to the likelihood that Taylor Swift will awkwardly dance at an award show. If you like music, celebrities, or crashing celebrity award shows and claiming you’re a famous director, you’ll know that this is a pretty high probability.

Seriously though, the PAT has become so automatic that the league is considering exterminating the 1-point boot entirely. Since 2004, teams have enjoyed a 99.1 % success rate on extra point attempts and this season, the NFL went a collective 1,262 for 1,267 on the PAT. That’s a robust 99.6 % success rate.  

Even that stat is misleading though as 4 of the 5 missed extra points this year resulted from blocked kicks. So without the opposing team having a hand in the matter, only one PAT flew purely off course. And remember, I’m not counting the extra points I attempted at a local field over Thanksgiving break. I think I nailed a gentlemen’s 50 % of those babies. And I may have fractured my shin. 

Anyway, even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a man known for his indifference towards concussion-like symptoms, has expressed headache over the matter. He recently said the NFL may eliminate the PAT kick because it has become too much of a given. 

Well, I’m not here to argue in favor of the extra point. It’s lame. I know it. You know it. The pigeon toed woman named Phyllis who tutored you in geology and sometimes invited herself over to dinner (usually on lasagna night) knows it. 

I’m here to serve up some alternatives. I now present my top three ways to fix the extra point.

 #3- A stadium official will pick a seat number at random and the person whose seat is picked will have forty-five seconds to run onto the field and kick the 19-yard field goal. 

Pros: Just imagine getting called down to the field to tack on the extra point for your team. It would be exhilarating. And the extra point wouldn’t be “automatic” anymore as most people in the stands can’t kick like the professionals. Additionally, this wrinkle would increase ticket sales as older, out of shape fans will hope to live out a dream. 

Cons: The first problem with this idea is that it would favor the home team greatly.  If a fan gets called to kick the extra point for the opposing team, he or she may miss the try intentionally. Furthermore, having people from the stands enter the field of play brings up a security issue. We don’t want a vengeful ex-NFL kicker to have his seat called, storm onto the field and violently attack Dan Marino. Wait, that would make a solid movie plot.  Noted. 

Verdict: While putting the away team at a competitive disadvantage, this idea also enables drunken fans, who may or may not be mentally unstable, direct access to the players. I think I may need to trash this one. 

#2- Whoever scores the touchdown has to attempt the PAT. 

Pros: Just envision Tom Brady or Peyton Manning stepping up to try a game-tying kick with no time on the clock. You’re telling me that’s not good television?!

Cons: It would be pretty awkward if a 350-pound offensive lineman had to attempt the extra point after scooping up a fumble in the end zone for a TD. Big guy may not be too nimble. But hey, I’m not going to judge. And once again it would be premium television. Wait this isn’t a con. Screw it, this idea is flawless.

Verdict: A seemingly fantastic plan, this system would antagonize kickers. I’m getting closer, though.

#1- The NFL makes a touchdown worth 7 points. Teams will still have an opportunity to attempt a conversion try from 2 yards out. If they convert, the TD will be worth 8 points. But if they fail, the TD moves down to 6 points.  Teams will also have the option to forgo the conversion try and stay at 7 points.  There will be no 1-point kick option.    

Pros: This plan eliminates the extra point while keeping the system stable. It assumes the extra point while still allowing a team to take a risk and attempt the 2-point conversion. 

Cons: NFL kickers would not be happy with this idea. In fact, Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee fears that eliminating the extra point will lead to the elimination of the kicker entirely. Dude, that’s like saying getting rid of crème brûlée will lead to the elimination of pastry chefs. Not a perfect analogy, but my main point is that the world needs pastry chefs. At least I think that was my main point.

Verdict: Boom, nailed it. Now, how do we tackle that pesky issue of locker room bullying?

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