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Jeff Schultz

NFL may eliminate PATs but why not other special teams?

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

San Francisco fails to block a field goal attempt by Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka in the NFC title game. So much for that excitement.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is considering proposals to banish the extra point after touchdowns.

That would be a start. This would be better: Eliminate all, or most, special teams.

In what I’m guessing was a completely orchestrated interview on the NFL Network, studio host Rich Eisen set things up for Goodell by likening PATs to pennies and said he has heard rumblings about a potential rules change.

This was Goodell’s response: “The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”

Goodell discussed a proposal that would award seven points for a touchdown instead of six. The scoring team would then have an option to pass or run for an eighth point, but would drop back to six if that conversion fails.

I like that idea. And while we’re at:

Eliminate kickoffs: It’s generally a useless exercise. It results in players getting injured more often than it does in long returns. Artificial surfaces, domed stadiums and stronger kickers also account for a high percentage of touchbacks. As an alternative, Just have teams start possessions at the 20 or 25 to open halves and after scoring plays.

• Tweak or eliminate punting: Similar to kickoffs/kickoff returns, this leads to a large number of injuries. But the league would have to institute a rule like having teams start possessions on their 20-, 25- or 30-yard line, depending on where the opposing team’s preceding possession ended after four downs. That’s workable. Here’s another option: If the league keeps punts, take some players off the field. Imagine the increased excitement in, say, a seven-on-seven punt return instead of 11-on-11. That certainly would make teams think twice about punting.

Tweak or eliminate field goals: The league has changed rules in the past to dissuade teams from attempting field goals. It effectively added 10 yards to all attempts by moving the goal posts from the goal line to the back of the end zone, and having the ball on missed field goals placed at the spot of the miss. But there are still too many field goals. Two options: 1) Eliminate them altogether. It would force teams to more seriously consider going for it on fourth down, adding more excitement to the game; 2) At the very least, narrow the goal posts to make field goals more difficult.

And now that I’ve alienated every placekicker in the league, what are your thoughts?

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