Extra points in NFL becoming unnecessarily controversial

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jack Newton

In 2015, the National Football League changed the extra point from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line to make extra points into a 33-yard attempt. The rule has made an impact in its year and a half of existence, especially in the ongoing 2016 season.

The change was made partly from the reasoning that the short extra point was an automatic conversion and had lost its value. This is true considering in 2014, the extra point percentage was 99.3 and a failed extra point was shocking to anyone watching. However, with the new rule, that number went down to about 94 percent, and has fallen even more this season, per The Ringer. The peak of criticism for this change came in Week 10 of the current season when NFL kickers missed a combined 11 attempts over the course of one week.

Many see the rule as a positive change that makes the game more interesting by adding value to the point that was practically given out to teams after scoring a touchdown. However, it has also changed the game in many ways.

In the very first week of the season, the New York Jets lost a heartbreaking game to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-22, after the Bengals made a field goal to win the game. Earlier in the game, Jets kicker Nick Folk missed an extra point, which proved to be the game changer in the one-point loss.

So is this style of play more entertaining?

Close games are fun to watch, however when a game is lost on        a play that was relatively easy in the past 49 years, the misses are not as entertaining as they are cringe-worthy and negatively affect the game.

Considering how long football has been the way it is, the change is huge for the game. If the distance had come as an original rule for the league, it would be the norm and the costly misses would be how the game was structured. With the change after 49 years of play, it has become an issue that may have people wondering if the team that deserved to win, actually did.

With the rule, a team can charge all the way down the field for a game-tying touchdown, just to have their kicker miss an extra point and thus lose the game. Nonetheless, the kick should be made as a professional, as it is nearly 94 percent of the time.

Kickers have a tough job that most people could never do, just as all professional football players do. From these extra points, kickers are ridiculed continuously for their mistakes. Yes, they are expected to make their extra points, just as running backs are expected to not fumble and quarterbacks are expected to not throw interceptions. However, people are not ridiculing skill players for their qualifications to be in the game of football.

A part of this change is the hope from some that it will increase teams going for 2-point conversions to add more excitement. From a league which is continuously under ridicule for its treatment of players, adding a play to the game for possible injury is simply hypocritical.

Even though the rule change has brought about a decrease of entertainment, it seems unlikely that this rule will be changed in the near future since it has in the opinion of some, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, made the game better. The next step would be to take away extra points entirely. That would be even more controversial though, as it would leave kickers responsible for nothing other than kick-offs.

Keith Egan is a visual and sound media and journalism major from Tinton Falls, N.J. He can be reached at keith.egan@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.

Author: Keith Egan

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