Proposal To Eliminate Specialists Doesn’t Accomplish Desired Purpose

With the NFL seemingly more assured than ever to finally alter the point after try in some way later this offseason, a prospect that has been discussed annually for years, many have come forth to offer their own alternative plans, which, naturally, are better and make more sense than all of the other plans.

One such plan was offered by Bob Labriola, who is, like many of you I’m sure, not a fan of the league tinkering with the rules every offseason and would generally prefer everything to be left alone.

Unsurprisingly, his plan does not fundamentally change the procedure in any way. An extra point will still be attempted, and it will still come from the two-yard line as the line of scrimmage.

The only difference in Labriola’s proposal is that the kicker would actually have to play another position, as was once the case in the 1960s and earlier.

The premise behind the idea is Labriola’s interpretation of the league’s desire to change the procedure in order to make it more difficult, less automatic, and thus, more exciting, ostensibly. I would imagine that using a running back as your kicker would accomplish that.

But I don’t think that’s what the league would want at all. It would be one thing to make an extra point attempt more difficult for a kicker by narrowing the goal posts or increasing the distance, but changing the player altogether doesn’t seem to be the right answer, to me.

After all, what this is doing is simply creating a position that is less talented than it was before. Why exactly would anybody want to see a decline in extra point success rate as a result of the incompetence of the player? I am reminded of the 2008 game in which the Pittsburgh Steelers induced a tie game when outside linebacker James Harrison was forced into long-snapping duty and booted the snap out of the back of the end zone. The Steelers lost the game on the following drive.

Should this be the route taken, then, all special teams positions (kicker, punter, and long snapper) would naturally be eliminated as well, with everybody having their own traditional position.

Your kicker might be a reserve cornerback, for example, your long snapper a backup center, while your punter could be your linebacker with the best leg.

But then all you really accomplish is to diminish the quality of special teams play across the board by increasing the number of botched snaps, shanked punts, and missed field goals. Which is only exciting when it’s not happening to your team. Otherwise it’s just enraging.

There’s a more fundamental problem with this suggestion, though, I think, and it goes back to the ‘automatic’ nature of the extra point.

I doubt that the league wants to make the extra point overly difficult. After all, I don’t think it would be in their best interest to have a popular team lose a game in overtime because their running back kicker shanked a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.

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