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By CHRIS HAVEL
Risk of injury increases because live play means kicker, holder must tackle
This week the NFL adopted a new rule governing a play that has been a source of irritation for a long time.
The problem is that it didn’t involve pass interference, what exactly is and/or isn’t a catch or any change to increase player safety. On the contrary, the NFL elected to pick on the little ‘ol PAT.
Since when did the “Point after Touchdown” become a point of emphasis that must be addressed?
Clearly, there existed a PAT problem that I was totally unaware of. Who’d a thunk it?
With all the potential bad press from ongoing NFL headlines involving everything from domestic abuse to murder, not to mention deflating footballs, the league’s priority is getting the PAT correct?
I’d be willing to play along if that was the case, except the NFL didn’t get it right. For a few insignificant percentage points (the difference between a previous 19-yard PAT and the new 32-yard PAT), the NFL has opened up the door to injury on a play that used to be merely innocuous.
In the league’s effort to increase 2-point attempts, it failed miserably. There are unintended consequences.
For instance, a PAT now is considered a “live” play, meaning the defense can return a blocked PAT for 2 points. Therefore, the holder and kicker have no choice but to attempt to make a tackle. It could be the difference between winning and losing.
It also could be why a team such as the Packers has a lot to risk with its punter as a holder, and a kicker (Mason Crosby) who is so invaluable.
Initially, an idea was proposed to do away with the PAT altogether. When a team scored a touchdown, it could accept 7 points and kick off, or it could take 6 points and try for 2.That’s pretty simple.
Immediately, it removes the monotony of 98-percent good PAT tries, and it removes the element of injury from a defensive player crashing down on an offensive player’s knee, for example. Instead, the NFL ups the ante on player safety.
Furthermore, the 15-yard line is so random. Why not try it from the 20? Why not from the 25? Why not give a team four points, instead of three, if it attempts and converts a field goal from 50-plus yards?
Why? The NFL shouldn’t be a circus. It is more than a PAT sideshow away from being fun to watch. It is unnecessary and it hurts the league’s image on player safety.
There are other unintended consequences, such as:
- If a team scores a touchdown to go up by one point there is no reason to risk losing by a blocked PAT. Teams will simply take a knee.
- What happens if a team lines up for a PAT, it gets blocked and an offense player recovers and runs it into the end zone? Is this good for one point or two?
- How will penalties be enforced? Is this going to open the door for the defense getting a “free shot” on the offense?
The other two suggestions were equally ridiculous.
The Patriots proposed snapping the ball from the 15-yard line for the one-point kick, or placing the ball at the 2-yard line for the two-point attempt. However, a team’s choice wasn’t final and was subject to change following a timeout or penalty.
The Eagles proposed snapping from the 15-yard line for the kick but moving the ball to the 1-yard line for the two-point conversion. The Eagles also wanted the defense to be able to score points if it returned a turnover to the other end zone.
The difference between kicking from the 19-yard line (98 percent) and from the 32-yard line (93 percent) isn’t worth all of this nonsense.
Oh, the new rule also removes the potential for a fake PAT in order to score two points. Who is going to fake it from the 15? Teams are better off lining up at the 2-yard line and going for two points straight up.
How does that improve strategy? This reminds me of the NFL’s rule change on overtime. The league went into the meeting with the intent of making sure that BOTH teams got the football at least once in overtime.
Instead, they came up with the current cockamamie rule that states (and I paraphrase): If the team that receives the first possession scores a touchdown on the opening drive they are declared the winner and the game is over.
Glad they got that fixed, just like the PAT rule.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.