The NFL competition committee is likely to ban defenders leaping over the line of scrimmage on field goals and extra points, the Washington Post reports. Such plays have become increasingly popular in recent years and are a smart strategic gamble when one weighs the five-yard penalty against the possibility of getting a block and, in some cases, a touchdown the other way.
The NFLPA proposed the idea at the Combine and the goal is obviously player safety. Considering the risk of injury that comes with the leap, it’s not the worst idea in the world. But to the fan at home, it’s another example of litigating fun out of the game. It was one of the few compelling aspects to the PAT.
It’s no secret that the league has been trying to eliminate the kicking element or — at best — marginalize it for years. From moving the kickoffs up five yards to moving the PAT back to the 33-yard mark, these moves are not subtle. One could even view the overtime rule change which allows teams to answer an opening drive field goal through this lens.
Even those with a soft spot for kickers and their quirks need to see the handwriting on the wall. There will never be a time when the pendulum swings the other way and kicking becomes a bigger part of the game. With that in mind, I suggest the NFL just do what it wants to do and be done with it.
Eliminate the extra point. Eliminate kickoffs. Hell, take punting out of the game if that’s the eventual goal. Make all the changes like a person ripping off a Band-Aid, with one violent yank. Create the game of the future in the present.
Teams can start at the 20. A punt can morph into placing the ball 40 yards from the line of scrimmage on fourth town. Going for two can be mandated.
And I say this as someone who thinks touchbacks are boring, the PAT should still be a 20-yard try and overtime should be sudden death. If a kicking-free game is the inevitable end point, let’s just get there now. Taking it away piecemeal and over 10 years seems like a silly process if that part of the game is doomed.
People hate change and will complain. Why not deal with one major backlash for one or two years than a slow mutter over a decade?