The Extra Point

Chris Lehman

Photo by: Fox Sports
Photo by: Fox Sports

23 people were killed by a lightning strike in American in 2013. Five NFL kickers missed an extra point. Out of the 1, 261 extra points attempted, 99.6 percent were made.

With a success rate like this, what’s the point?

One thing’s for sure, the NFL will not eliminate this post-touchdown process due to the extra revenue it brings in.

So what’s going to happen to the extra point? Chances are… nothing. With the 2011 kickoff rule change where the ball is kicked from the 35 yard line, we are seeing more touchbacks than ever. ESPN recorded that in 2011, 43.5 percent of kickoffs resulted in touchbacks compared to 16 percent from the year before. The kicker’s relevance is declining, and if the extra point is removed, it won’t be long until the position is as well.

So how do you change the game enough without affecting it drastically? 

The free throw in the NBA is the closest thing to an extra point in sports. This year, the average percentage for a team’s free throw percentage is 75 percent.

Now kickers rarely miss kicks shorter than 40 yards, but between 40 and 49 yards, we see a significant drop-off. So why not move the extra point to the 23 yard line if teams elect to go for the kick, setting them up for a 40-yard extra point. This would still ensure a fairly high success rate, while increasing the number of two-point conversions attempted.

Or, perhaps the NFL should take a rugby approach to extra points. In this similar sport, when a try is successful, the team attempts the conversion kick from a diagonal depending on how far away from the center of the field the ball-carrier touched the ball down.

A final suggestion, which happens to be my personal favorite, takes us back a few years to the time of the NFL skills challenge. In these competitions, the kickers would attempt kicks from different locations on the field, such as the sideline or other difficult angles. This option would maintain the same format, while making extra points, and therefore kickers, more relevant in today’s NFL.

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