-Eric Nordquist (@ericnordoKFAN)
The NFL owners’ meetings are down in sunny Orlando this week! Every year, league leaders get together in the offseason to make big decisions and vote on various ways to water down the best product in professional sports. As part of this, we talked about NFL potential rule changes during the #92Noon and had ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio to open the show, who was live from the meetings in Florida. (Podcast the entire 9AM hour in the On-Demand section of KFAN.com)
As of lunchtime today, I had only heard of two changes voted on so far. Side roll-up blocks on defenders are now illegal. I can dig it. The second? Dunking the ball over the crossbar after a touchdown is now illegal too. Jimmy Graham is not happy. (Insert No Fun League cliché here) We’ll probably hear about more changes tomorrow as well.
When it comes to rule changes, I think it’s imperative that you maintain the fundamentals of the sport’s gameplay, while simultaneously adjusting to the evolving athlete. Not easy, and here are some proposals brought forth by the league and/or individual teams that I’m utterly opposed to à
1. Eliminating Extra Points
This is ridiculous. PATs are boring, they’re nearly automatic and are usually a good time to get in line for the bathroom while they’re being taken. The element of the kicker in football, though, serves a basic function of diversifying the ways in which you score points. So, we need to keep them and alter them. You can do so by moving them back (one proposal puts them on the 25yd line), move the spot/holder 2-3 yards closer to the line of scrimmage etc. You could even force them to kick from a hash mark of their choosing, while widening the hashes. We can be creative within the existing system without erasing part of it. Plus, if you’re a fan of going to two-point conversions on all scoring plays, you won’t be after your squad drives 90 yards, scores and then can’t convert from the freaking 2 yard line.
2. Expanding Playoffs
Adding an extra team in each conference, which means only the top seed gets a bye-week and the rest gets rowdy on Wildcard weekend. This is simply an idea for the league to capitalize on viewership during the postseason, without actually improving the product we’re watching. How many 8-8 or 7-9 teams do you want in the playoffs (unless they’re the Vikings, of course!)?
3. Expanding Replay
I’m all for getting the call right on the field, but at what cost? Instant replay is inefficient, time consuming, a complete momentum killer…and we want to do more of it? Maybe we should eliminate PATs just so there’s more time to challenge every single play on the field! There have been discussions of time limits on video-viewing and direct correspondence with the NFL control center in New York to get things done more accurately, but none of this improves the lull in activity. The actual time-sucker is the conversations with coaches and ref huddles that take place prior to “going under the hood.” What about the idea that the mere existence of replay is encouragement in itself for refs to make challengeable calls, as to not be the Sportscenter low-light? I think expanding replay will promote the continued devolution of quality referees who usually make the right call immediately. Can’t wait to go to games this fall, sit in the stands and have no idea what’s going on while they’re challenging a first-down ball spot (sarcasm, folks).
4. Moving the Kickoff to the 40-yard Line
This is another situation where we are taking away diverse scoring opportunities in the game. Not much to say on this other than that it’s a terrible idea, kills returns and becomes more arbitrary than any PAT ever was. And, we have Cordarrelle Patterson. Giddyup!
Agree or disagree? Let's discuss.