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January 24, 2014

Keep fans in their seats; dump the extra point

What in the name of Lou “The Toe” Groza was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinking when he proposed dropping the extra point kick from the game?

Doesn’t Goodell understand that it's one of the least exciting plays in all of sports? Or perhaps that’s what he had in mind.

Except for a few kids who earned their high school varsity letters by booming extra points, there hasn’t been much upheaval to the suggestion that the practice go the way of wagon trains and slide rules.

In explaining his idea, Goodell said that the extra point after a touchdown is almost automatic. It would be fair to drop the word “almost.”

"I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd,” he said during an interview with NFL.com. “So it's a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play."

It’s hard to argue with that. Only five were missed all season, and four of those were blocked.

It’s odd that it’s taken so long for someone to seriously broach the subject of eliminating extra points. Maybe nobody wanted to tamper with tradition.

But if not PATs, then what?

The aforementioned Groza was a Hall-of-Famer with the Cleveland Browns whose 21-year season as a kicker and lineman began in 1946. He made 810 of 833 extra points, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, in a day when games were played in mud and snow, and no one dreamed of turf fields or indoor stadiums.

Nevertheless, Groza drove the ball through the uprights with a high degree of regularity. That’s when he wasn’t blocking or tackling as a lineman - his other job.

In recent years, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was perhaps the first to suggest rethinking chip shot kicks. Something with a success rate nearing perfection isn’t much of a challenge, he pointed out.

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