Sports Football


NFL to alter extra point -- they're just not sure how

John Kryk

By John Kryk, Toronto Sun

Bills kicker Dan Carpenter (2) kicks an extra point to win the game with one second left as Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) defends during NFL action in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Oct. 19, 2014. The league is expected to alter the point-after play following touchdowns for next season. (Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)

Bills kicker Dan Carpenter (2) kicks an extra point to win the game with one second left as Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) defends during NFL action in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Oct. 19, 2014. The league is expected to alter the point-after play following touchdowns for next season. (Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports)


Those in the NFL who view the extra point as a useless play finally got their point across on Wednesday morning.

Owners want to change the conversion kick -- this season.

As it is, teams kick a virtually automatic extra point snapped from the two-yard line. Only 13 of 2,500 have been missed over the past two seasons. Or 0.5%.

A number of proposals have gone before owners at the past two annual meetings. Such as snapping the ball from the 15, as New England suggests. Or encouraging more two-point conversion attempts by moving the snap to the one-and-a-half yard line.

As this year’s annual meeting concluded, competition committee chairman Rich McKay announced that a change appears imminent.

“We had about a 30- to 40-minute discussion on the extra point,” McKay said. “A very interesting, lively discussion with a lot of ideas ... There’s a clear signal that there’s a movement to want to change, and we want to change this year.

“I think in the next 30 days you will see the competition committee, in conjunction with a lot of coaches, develop a couple of alternatives and be ready to put something forward for a potential vote (by owners at their spring meeting) in May.”

NEW RULES FEW: Other than the extra point, Bill Maher’s new rules are far more interesting than those passed this year in the NFL.

There’s a concussion watchdog in the press box now who can stop the game if he sees a wobbly player. There are a few technical rules offering incrementally more protection to players. There’s a rule preventing what the Pats did against the Ravens in the playoffs: lining up a player wearing an eligible number at an ineligible spot outside the tackle box. And unsportsmanlike conduct penalties can now carry over from the end of a half.

Oh, and linebackers can now wear jersey numbers in the 40s!

COMPLETE THIS: The debate over the reworded “complete-the-catch-to-the-ground” rule will continue to rage.

As reported by QMI Agency on Sunday night, the league Monday approved new wording to the rule, changing the threshold of a legal catch when a receiver falls to the ground from making “any act common to the game” (or a “football move”), to clearly establishing himself as a runner.

I asked Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett if it’d be simpler if the rule just reverted to what it used to be years ago: two feet on the ground, with no mention of completing the catch to the ground.

Yes, I prefaced it by mentioning what happened in the Cowboys’ playoff loss, when Dez Bryant’s dynamic catch was ruled incomplete, on review, for not completing the catch to the ground.

“I do believe that we should try to keep these great plays in the game,” Garrett said. “And I do believe in simplicity in the rules so everyone understands it: I understand it, you understand it, our fans understand it. When 91,000 people at AT&T Stadium see a play, I think we all should say, ‘Ah, that’s a catch.’ Or, ‘That’s not a catch.’

“I think we should try to simplify it as much as we can. I do think we need to just use our common sense, use our intuition and somehow, some way, write the rules in a very simple manner so I think everybody gets back on the same page.”

But St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, the de facto co-chair of the competition committee, defended the rewording. I asked him, too, if it’d be simpler to exclude the complete-the-catch-to-the-ground element.

“No,” he said. “If that becomes the case, you’re going to have so many more fumbles. That’s the concern. You got possession, both feet down, then the ball’s out. Bang-bang. Those are incomplete, and those are easy to officiate.

“I really believe that this clarification is going to clear things up for everybody ... It’s simple.

“This is where it was said numerous times in the committee: If you’re going to go to the ground, hang on to the football. Just hang on to the football.”

BUT THE BEST RULES THING? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reportedly went nuts behind closed doors here, in a competition-committee meeting.

Through his team, Belichick proposed for the second straight year that permanent, league-operated video cameras along all boundary lines be installed at every stadium -- for the purpose of providing better, definitive angles for replay reviews.

Much like the NHL purchased and operates its own strategically placed cameras, both in and far above the nets.

Owners voted down Belichick’s proposal. At his Tuesday media availability, Belichick merely said he was disappointed that some owners refuse to spend the money to install the cameras to aid referees in getting calls right.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that, privately, Belichick “in profane language, told the NFL: ‘We spend money to send the Pro Bowl to Brazil, we spend money to go overseas to London, but we can’t spend money to have four cameras in the end zone, four cameras to help determine the correct call in the end zone on certain plays?’”

Belichick then became so incensed and so profane, according to Schefter, “the NFL didn’t know how to handle it.”

Belichick thus left Phoenix -- um, deflated.

CIRCUS CLOWN: The New York Jets late Tuesday night filed a counter tampering charge against the New England Patriots, after owner Robert Kraft merely discussed why the team couldn’t re-sign star cornerback Darrelle Revis, who signed as a free agent with his old team, the Jets.

What the hell’s wrong with that?

It’s just a silly tit-for-tat, after the Pats rightfully filed a tampering charge against Jets owner Woody Johnson, who stupidly said at a news conference in December that he’d love to have Revis back, when the Pats hadn’t even played their first playoff game.

Listen, peeps. Rex Ryan is gone from New York. GMs Mike Tannenbaum and John Idzik are too. Yet the circus remains.

Woody’s the reason.

SLOW DOWN ON L.A.: So many factors will come into play this year when the NFL determines which team, or two teams, can eventually move to Los Angeles. That makes it impossible at this point to identify which teams, and which of two potential stadium locations might get to actually dig holes.

While it’s still possible a team or two might be able to relocate to LA next year, don’t be surprised if it’s later than that.

Commissioner Roger Goodell underscored that point at his meeting-closing news conference Wednesday: “First, let me just say we’re focused on doing this right. If we go back to the Los Angeles market, we want to succeed for the long term and we have a lot to do to get to that place. So we’re not focused on ’16.”

Won’t bore you with the whys.

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