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Extra point rule changes aren’t dead yet – owners to reconsider in May

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Extra point rule changes are a solution in search of a problem

Commentary by Mark Schultz

At the recently concluded NFL Competition Committee meetings, the committee proposed to change the extra point rules (PAT), but tabled any votes on the subject when members could not reach a consensus.   The NFL will reconsider changing the PAT rules in May, according to recent reports.   The details have yet to be worked out, but the general idea is to move extra point kicks out to a greater distance, while keeping the two point conversion attempt in close to the goal line.   According to reports, a super majority of the owners agree that the PAT rules should change, so there is momentum behind changing the PAT.   Is is unclear what the final rule will be, but all indications point to longer extra point kicks in the 2015 season.

The rationale for the change is that PAT kicks today are almost automatic – over 99-percent of the conversion kicks have been good in the last three seasons. If the PAT kicks are moved out 10 to 15 yards it will create some tension and drama as a team would look to tie or take the lead “pending the extra point.”

I have one question for the owners and when it comes to the proposed rule changes to make extra point kick harder.   Why?!   Is pro football that boring of a game that the NFL needs to come up with NASCAR-type rules to contrive drama and excitement?   Isn’t the game exciting enough?   The PAT always follows a touchdown – itself an exciting play, whether a one-yard plunge or a 99-yard bomb.   The current rules leave room for drama as coaches have to decide whether or not to go for two or kick the PAT.

The NFL has bigger fish to fry.   It needs to come up with new rules and technologies to keep players as safe as possible as class-action lawyers salivate over the game and soccer moms think twice about before allowing their child to play tackle football.   The safety rules enacted in the last few years have already impacted the style of play on the field.   The NFL doesn’t need to radically change other aspects of the game.   Extra point kicks should be very low on the list of things to change in the game.

Not every play in a NFL game needs to be a life-or-death drama.   Leave the humble PAT alone.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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