Over the course of the past few seasons, the NFL has seemingly taken an increased interest in what is arguably the most boring play in football: the point after attempt following a touchdown.
It is, of course, for the very reason that the play is seen as such a waste of time that the league has set its sights on it in the hopes of altering it in some way to make it more exciting and keep the viewers engaged.
That is especially important when you know that point after attempt will be followed by a commercial break, a kickoff that more often than not ends in a touchback with no return, and then another commercial break before the actual football activity resumes.
In the past, the league has fielded a number of different ideas about how to tweak the post-touchdown procedure, to the point where they actually experimented with a couple of these ideas recently.
During the first two weeks of the preseason a year ago, the league experimented by placing the ball for the point after attempt at the line of scrimmage at the 15-yard line, rather than from the two-yard line, thinking that increasing the difficulty of the attempt will increase the excitement, but this did not exactly prove to be the case. They have also explored the possibility of narrowing the goalposts, but this seems to be missing the point.
Over the course of the past few days, however, the league has given the appearance that they finally understand the issue—kicking the ball is not viewed as a football play. The only times a field goal is actually exciting tend to be when the game is on the line, and rarely at other points.
While the competition committee did not vote on any changes to the extra point process yesterday, there was reportedly a lengthy and lively discussion that was tabled and is scheduled to be revisited during the next meetings in May, at which time a change is anticipated.
Said committee chairman Rich McKay, “all teams pretty much said the same thing: it’s time to make this play a football play”. There are two main proposals in order to accomplish that. The first is to adopt the college rule of allowing the defense to score should they gain possession of the ball.
The second of the primary proposals which had never been formally discussed but which had been quietly championed for the past few years by Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, was to advance the line of scrimmage to the one-yard line in order to encourage teams to attempt a two-point conversion at a higher rate.
What better way to make the extra point process a football play than to encourage teams to run more football plays? I wrote about this idea last offseason when the competition was previously discussing tweaks to the rule and supported at that time the idea that this proposal should be seriously considered. I’m glad that it finally is, and I hope that it passes.