NFL's extra-point gambit has many problems; here's the biggest

Surely the NFL doesn't want to turn Stephen Gostkowski in the Patriots' non-Tom Brady MVP. (USATSI)
Surely the NFL doesn't want to turn Stephen Gostkowski into the Patriots' non-Tom Brady MVP. (USATSI)

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This is what's dumb about the NFL's cockamamie idea of moving the extra point back more than 20 yards, turning an automatic kick into something definitely doink-able:

Wait. Sorry. This won't be "what's dumb" about the NFL's cockamamie idea, because there's a lot dumb with this idea. Too much dumb for one story. Maybe too much dumb for one Internet server. How much space do we have here at Don't know, but I'm not about to test our bytes by listing everything that bites about the idea of turning the 20-yard gimme into a 43-yard pain in the ass.

Instead, this is what's most dumb about the idea:

The NFL would turn the kicker into one of the most important players in the game. Every game. Home or road. Indoors, outdoors. No matter the playing surface or weather, the kicker would become arguably the second-most important player on his team, after only the quarterback.

Is that an NFL you want to see? Where the game comes down to your kicker trying to convert a lousy extra point? That's what the longer extra point -- I mean, a lot longer; more than twice as long -- would do to a football game: It would make Mike Nugent more important than A.J. Green, Blair Walsh more important than Adrian Peterson, Randy Bullock more important than J.J. Watt.

Because all of a sudden, the extra point can be missed. All of a sudden, an early tie of 7-7 becomes a 7-6 deficit when Shaun Suisham hits the upright from 43 yards, and now Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spends the rest of the game chasing that missed point. Maybe he goes for two on his next touchdown. Or goes for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal inside the 5. Or takes another risk somewhere because he's down a point, and points are crucial in the NFL, and he just got jobbed a point by his freaking kicker.

Or maybe Tomlin doesn't chase that lost point. Maybe he refuses to throw good money after bad by playing risky the rest of the way, and instead just sucks it up and accepts that his team is down a point.

Any idea how many one-point games the NFL had last season? Fifteen. Plus 16 others that went to overtime. And 12 more that were decided by two points. That's a lot of games where a suddenly difficult extra point becomes enormous. All of a sudden, the least dramatic play in football -- ever stayed in your chair to watch the extra point? -- becomes the most dramatic.

Meet the new NFL: where an entire season, a playoff race, a Super Bowl, come down to the kicker booting the one-pointer through the uprights.

This can't be what the NFL wants, to have the kicker become one of the most expensive players on roster -- because in a league where the PAT now gets missed, the kicker's price tag just went up. What's the franchise tag for a kicker nowadays? How long does Mason Crosby hold out before the Green Bay Packers blink?

These are what you call unintended consequences, and for all his brains -- and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is exceptionally smart -- Goodell can't have considered the ramifications of turning the extra point no-brainer into a 43-yard knee-knocker.

Because if he had considered the ramifications, he would have considered the possibility of a penalty on the touchdown. Maybe an offensive lineman drills a linebacker after the play is dead, the 15-yard penalty tacked onto the extra point. Here comes a 58-yarder. For a single point.

And if Roger Goodell had considered the ramifications, he would have considered this: Peyton Manning getting the ball at the 20, Broncos trailing Kansas City by seven points with about a minute left. Manning does what he does, driving Denver down the field, then finding Demaryius Thomas in the back of the end zone on the final play. Overtime. Free football. The magic of the NFL.

Unless Matt Prater doinks the extra point off the uprights.

Game over. Great game, fun game, finished game.

All because Roger Goodell wanted to make the extra point a little more fun for everyone.


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