Don’t worry your pretty little heads. The NFL will not be abolishing the extra point attempt after all. Instead, the decision has been made by the NFL owners to make them a bit more challenging and add some flavor to two-point conversion as well.
What the owners agreed on Tuesday is moving back the extra point attempts to the 15 yard line, and while two-point conversion attempts will still be from the 2 yard line, the defense is now able to run back a turnover for two points.
A lot of talk and speculation was building up heading into Tuesday about the future of the extra point and two-point conversion. Another option for example would have had the two-point conversion attempt take place at the 1 yard line. The owners voted 30-2 on this rule change, and many have spoken out in support or in disdain of the rule change.
Let’s be honest here briefly, a change is never met with unanimous praise. You will always have those traditionalists who will defend the old guard through and through with the ever-so-popular quip “That’s how it was in the old days, therefore why change it?” It’s going to be an adjustment watching extra points on TV and confusing them for field goal attempts in the beginning, but like anything, it takes some getting used to. And yes, even the greater threat of your kicker missing an extra point will be hard to swallow at first too.
Here’s a good example of an adjustment in the NFL. Remember a few years ago when Roger Goodell and the NFL decided to move kickoffs from the 30 yard line back to the 35 for “safety purposes”? As a result, kickoffs were now five yards deeper and most returns resulted in touchbacks. Everyone was up in arms about it. The Chicago Bears even retaliated to the change in a preseason game, voluntarily moving the tee back to the 30, until a phone call from the NFL put that practice to an end.
We got a glimpse of the 33-yard extra point attempt during the preseason last year, and some NFL kickers, such as Josh Brown of the New York Giants, loved the challenge of the extra distance, which led us to where we are now. With that in mind, we have to remind ourselves that the owners are representing their teams, so they are speaking on behalf of their coaches, personnel and especially their players. These owners’ votes were carefully considered by them and their respective teams. If they heard their people crying out in the majority of this rule change getting passed, then they casted their vote towards this rule change. With Brown taking that stance last year, it’s likely that Giants owner John Mara voted “yay” with that kind of influence.
So now what does this rule change have in store for the NFL going forward? It is not just simply a rule change. It’s a movement, a movement for better competition and furthering the notion that nothing in the NFL is guaranteed. Furthermore, this will give coaches a better look at what they have on special teams. Any Division III kicker can convert an extra point from the 2 yard line. With the extra point moved back some, it will give kickers something more to think about when they line up, and the coaches can now even better separate the men from the boys on their kicking crew with a constant challenge like that facing them after every touchdown.
As for the defense being given the chance to score two points of their own, this gives some defensive players the chance to shine some more too. It’s one thing to stuff someone just short of the goal line and celebrate, but now the defense has the incentive of getting their team on the board. Just imagine a scenario where a team is looking to go up by three but instead turn the ball over and watch the defense take it back. Now THEY are trailing by one. And who doesn’t like to see someone run from one end of the field to the other and score? That’s why we love kick returns so damn much.
Whether or not you support this rule change is your prerogative. Once we see it in action, we will know whether or not we like it, and those who are against it may come around to it over time. But whatever you think of it now, just remember that it is the NFL’s goal to promote the competition of the game and get the most out of their players competitively. The fact that this rule change, without a doubt, promotes that is showing that the NFL, with all of its success and longevity, is still striving to make the game better and invoke new challenges, while at the same time expanding their horizons.