Following every NFL season, commissioner Roger Goodell and his cronies look at ways that they can improve the league. Sure, Super Bowl XLVIII is still a week and a half away, but to the NFL’s top brass, it’s already time to start planning ahead. And this means that there could possibly be a huge rule change or two in the works.
One rule change that could be happening in 2014 is the elimination of extra points. This would only work to further take the “foot” out of football. But certain fans and coaches think that the play is a waste of time because of how often kickers make PAT’s. Others, like New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, think that it needs to be modified somehow.
“I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate,” Belichick told CBS.com. “It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players.”
Even a few kickers themselves aren’t totally opposed to seeing a change in how extra points are performed. Belichick’s kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, told CBS that it wouldn’t be so bad to move the mark back a few yards. “If they want to move it back, go ahead, but completely eliminating it would be a terrible, terrible thing,” he said. “It’s such a good game the way it is, I don’t know why we have to go change everything all the time.”
It’s unclear how much support there is among top league officials with regard to getting rid of or changing extra points. So we can’t quite say it’s automatic (or rather an extra point) that PAT’s will be taken out of the game. Something else big that’s being discussed is a playoff expansion in 2-3 years.
The last time that the playoffs were expanded was 1990, when an additional Wild Card slot was added in both conferences. This made for a total of three division champions (now four) and three Wild Cards. Now, Goodell wants to expand the amount of teams that make the postseason from 12 to 14.
Adding a couple more teams would create lots excitement near the end of the playoff chase. Furthermore, it would add another playoff game in each conference, bringing more television revenue to the league. For this big change to pass, it’d need approval by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. Of course, this is going to be easier said than done.
New York Giants co-owner John Mara didn’t exactly give the change a ringing endorsement. “Until we have a discussion on it on the floor, it’s hard to say,” he told the Washington Post. “You need 24 votes in this league. Is there enough support? It’s hard to say. I have mixed feelings on it. I’ve always been opposed. One of my concerns is when do you play the games. I think there are some issues there. I’m also concerned about watering the playoffs down. But I’m still willing to listen to the other side.”
Assuming most other owners disagree with Mara’s assessment and vote in favor of an expanded postseason, the change wouldn’t take place until at least 2015. But there’s no telling if owners would even get around to deciding the issue by then.
For the past few years, the idea of eliminating the preseason and changing the amount of regular season games from 16 to 18 has been kicked around. But after lots of talks and discussions on the matter, it doesn’t seem like team owners have any intention of adding two more regular season games.