Kickers rail against proposed PAT change

Kickers rail against proposed PAT change
March 6, 2014, 10:30 am

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) kicks a field goal in the second quarter against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

NFL kickers are fighting mad.

And they are putting their mouths where their money is, voicing their strong displeasure with the NFL's attempt to tinker with the extra-point kick.

Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear earlier this year that he wanted to infuse more drama in the extra-point kick, which was converted 99.6 percent of the time last season.

"The extra point is almost automatic," Goodell told NFL Network. "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."

One proposal that came out of the Competition Committee’s meeting a couple of weeks ago, which could be used experimentally this preseason, would be to have all extra-point kicks spotted at the 25-yard line, making them 42-yard extra-point attempts.

“People are trying to phase kickers out of the game. That’s as blunt as I can be about it,” Ravens kicker Justin Tucker told the team’s Web site. “I don’t think it’s necessary to change the game every couple of years to make it more exciting. It’s plenty exciting."

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Tucker, incidentally, would seem to increase in value with the new rule; he has never missed an extra-point try (68-for-68) and is 40-for-42 from 42 yards and in over his two-year career. But he sounded insulted by the idea.

“If somebody wants to be honest and say they’re trying to phase kickers out of the game, I’d appreciate that,” he said. “I’d start working out and I’d try to get a little faster and I’d work on my hands and become a slot receiver. I want to play the game.”

Later, Tucker backtracked slightly, saying via Twitter that, "Let me be clear: I only think specialists start getting 'phased out' via total removal of the PAT.. That's basically what I am most against."

Another Ravens kicker, well, ex-Ravens kicker, also came out against the proposed change.

“I don't like the idea,” Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka told WNST Radio. "This isn't going to affect preseason games. It's not going to affect warm-weather, dome games. It's going to affect playoff games in Green Bay.

"When it's cold and windy, a 42-yard extra-point is going to be a tough kick. That's going to affect games significantly ... When one team loses because they can't get an extra point through from 42 yards on a sloppy field, I don't know that's how you want games decided."

Hauschka was speaking as if the rule change was in place, which is not the case. It is only on the drawing board, and might be used in preseason games. Any such change would have to be approved by the league's owners, which has not happened.

Have kickers simply gotten too good? And if so, are they being penalized for it?

“If basketball players get really good at free throws, is the NBA just going to eliminate free throws?” former NFL kicker Martin Gramatica said in Time magazine. “I just think it’s crazy.”

“This just seems like a proposal by a couple of people trying to pound their chest a little saying, ‘Let’s change it up because kickers are too good,’” longtime Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri told USA Today. “They’re trying to downgrade our value versus continuing to put an emphasis on kicking. They’re trying to minimize the importance of kickers. I’m a traditionalist. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

But in Goodell’s eye, the extra-point kick lacks drama, so it is broken. And a longer, more dramatic kick is his idea of a fix.

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