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What to do with pro football's PAT

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Greg Peck
February 3, 2014

The NFL season effectively ended about the time Bruno Mars took the stage Sunday. Half of a fully dominating Seattle Seahawks' performance had already destroyed Denver Bronco hopes of taking home the Lombardi Trophy. Congrats to former Badger QB Russell Wilson and his Seattle teammates.

Before we set aside pro football until the NFL's draft in May, let's consider one more part of the game in general: The point-after-touchdown kick.

Only five kicks went awry out of 1,267 in the regular season. New England's Stephen Gostkowski has hit 360 in a row, extending back to 2006. When it's time for such a kick, fans see it as a chance to head to the john or to the refreshment stand or refrigerator. These kicks are so automatic, no one is watching.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tossed up the idea of eliminating the kick, scoring the touchdown as seven points and inviting teams to take a real risk: They could add an eighth point by completing a conversion. If it failed, they would subtract a point and wind up with six. Or they could just skip the conversion try, take the seven and proceed to the next kickoff.

As the Chicago Tribune reported last week, only about 5 percent of fans supposedly like Goodell's idea. The wide majority favors another idea, one that I thought of immediately when I heard the NFL was debating this issue. Why not just move the kick farther back? Spot the ball on, say, the 30-yard line. Still too easy? Make it the 35 or 40 then.

This change would retain some of the historical integrity of football's points system but make the extra point kick just that much more difficult.

Imagine the fun of such a longer PAT kick on a frozen Soldier Field amid swirling December winds. That could keep fans in their seats.

The Chicago Tribune, in an editorial last week, wanted to go one step further. Make the 25-yard line the spot for a regular PAT kick. “To reward risk-taking, give teams the option of moving back even farther—let's say to the 35—to attempt a three-point kick. Or they could still try for the two-point conversion. Under this plan, a touchdown can be worth six, seven, eight or nine points.”

What do you think?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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