NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is certainly no stranger to mind numbingly dumb decisions, moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl being one of them. Doing away with AFC and NFC designation for the teams and opting for a schoolyard style roster picking was another. And let’s not forget that by moving the date of the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, players from the Seattle Seahawks andthe Denver Broncos who were voted into the game will not be participating for fear of suffering an injury in what is nothing more than a meaningless exhibition. And who can blame them? All arguments about the need for a Pro Bowl aside, it showcases Goodell’s seemingly incessant need to find solutions to problems that don’t exist, the latest case of it being Goodell’s desire to see the extra point eliminated from the game.
Granted, the extra point is pretty well automatic and not a very exciting play. However, a bad snap, a stumble, a defense that somehow blows through the line — there are a million different things that can go wrong on a PAT, and a blown PAT can change the entire complexion of a game. Does it happen often? No. But just because it doesn’t happen often, doesn’t mean it can’t, and is no reason to eliminate it from the game.
Under Goodell’s plan, a touchdown would result in an automatic seven points. Teams can then opt to run a play in an attempt to score an eighth point. If they fail in the attempt, however, they are docked a point and make the touchdown worth only six points.
Here’s an idea to build upon Goodell’s genius plan — instead of running a play for a point, teams can opt to participate in an end zone trivia round for the chance to score even more points! Brilliant!
Goodell’s rationale for wanting to do away with the extra point is ludicrous. In a recent interview, he said, “The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd [attempts]. So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”
His complaint is that even with the addition of the two-point conversion, teams opt to play it conservatively, boot the almost sure thing, take their seven points and call it a day. Somehow, in his addled mind, Goodell believes that by awarding seven points automatically and eliminating the PAT, teams will suddenly go hog wild and run the play in a bid for the eighth point. He somehow believes that it will make the game more exciting.
Except that it won’t. Teams will still play it conservatively whether they are automatically awarded the seven points or whether they have to kick for it. The fact that they will lose a point, dropping them back down to six points for their touchdown, if they try and fail for that eighth point, that just about guarantees that 99 percent of the coaches in the league will not try for that extra point unless they are in desperation mode. What you will see are coaches taking a shot at that eighth point at about the same rate coaches now take a shot at two-point conversions. Which isn’t often. Coaches are often conservative and will hoard every point they can. And they certainly will not run a play if they are under the threat of losing a point if they fail in their attempt.
So, how does eliminating the PAT add excitement on every play again?
Is the PAT an exciting play? Of course it isn’t. Is it an automatic point? Pretty close, yeah. But the human element means that there is always the chance of somebody blowing an assignment and getting a PAT blocked, or a kicker unexpectedly shanking a kick. It’s the human element and the possibility that something can go wrong, even on such a routine play, that makes it exciting, not contrived and ultimately, stupid gimmicks. Goodell needs to stop trying to fix what isn’t broken, plain and simple.