The NFL Is Changing the Extra Point…They Just Don’t Know How Yet
In the early days of gridiron football, touchdowns were worth fewer points than the kick after the touchdown. Presumably, this was because scoring touchdowns was easier than kicking field goals back when the ball was just a sack of potatoes somebody brought from home and the average player wasn’t a 6’4″, 250-pound guy who could run like a cheetah.
However, things began to change around the turn of the 20th century. Scoring touchdowns became harder than kicking field goals, so they increased the point value of touchdowns and decreased the value of the kicks after the touchdowns. By 1912, the point values of touchdowns and the PAT had been changed to their current values.
Of course, since then, the PAT attempt has become automatic. In 1932, kickers made only the PAT 67% of the time. By 1970, the rate was up to about 90%. Then it dipped a bit in 1974 after they moved the goal posts to the back of the endzone. But the success rate has been creeping steadily higher ever since, to the point where they are now pretty much automatic. In 2014, six PATs were blocks and just two were missed for an overall conversion rate of 99.36%.
For this reason, pretty much everyone in the NFL wants to change the PAT. In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the league is going to make a change for the 2015 season. They just don’t know what change they’re going to make.
Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay is head of the NFL’s competition committee. He says they will come up with a slate of alternatives and have them ready to present for a potential vote two months from now in San Francisco.
Some of the proposals on the table include:
- moving the ball back to the 15-yard line for all PAT attempts
- moving the ball up to the 1½-yard line to encourage more two-point conversion attempts
- eliminating the PAT kick altogether in favor of two-point conversion attempts
- eliminating the PAT kick and just awarding seven points for a touchdown
- allowing the defense to score if the ball is turned over on a two-point attempt, as in the NCAA
- allowing teams to chose between a 1½-yard two-point attempt or a 15-yard field goal
Of course, eliminating the PAT kick altogether is a terrible idea because it would remove an element of strategy from the game—i.e., going for two or settling for one. Personally, I’d like to start by moving PAT attempt back five yards and go from there. But they’ve got to change something to make the PAT kick worth doing.
What do you think?