Remember the episode of Breaking Bad where Walter White damn near destroys a multi-million dollar meth lab trying to kill a fly?
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell displayed its own version of that this week when it announced its NFL rule changes, which, after several years of inexplicable fixation on the wildly unimportant extra point, included a major overhaul of that innocuous part of the game – the fly in the methlab, if you will.
At Roger Goodell’s press conference, before he relaunched into a diatribe about the world’s most boring subject (the f**king Patriots, f**king Tom Brady and those deflated f**king footballs who f**king cares anymore?!!!), Goodell proudly announced that the NFL was addressing the “unexciting” PAT play with a bold new NFL rule changes that moved the line of scrimmage from the 2 to the 15, turning a completely automatic extra point into an almost completely automatic extra point. Has anyone checked NFL kickers’ accuracy from 35 yards and in. Without bothering to look it up I’ll lay odds it’s better than 95%. No one is going to pass up the kicked extra point unless their kicker sucks. So forget teams suddenly going for 2 just because the 1 point conversion is a tiny bit less guaranteed. You see, the 2 point conversion is still just as difficult as it was before, and no one is going to try it to avoid the 32 yard kick, they’re only going to try for 2 if the score dictates that they need to, and for reasons I’ll go into in a minute, that just became less likely, not more.
The NFL is clearly responding here to the more shrill members of the media who adopted this meaningless rule change quest as a cause celebre. These are the same bozos who are also crying that the NBA lottery rewards losing, which sort of ignores the fact that punishing the teams with the worst records by taking away the highest draft picks will basically cause those franchises to fold and go out of business because they simply cannot improve. By the way, why don’t you ask perennial lottery teams like Sacramento, Detroit and Minnesota how rewarded they feel by the lottery. I’m thinking they’d prefer the ability to contend for a title, but they just haven’t gotten lucky (or aren’t very good at drafting). Either way, being a lottery team is no picnic.
I also have a much better way to fix the lottery involving a formula that puts only the very worst teams (not every non-playoff team) in the lottery pool. It basically reduces the number of lottery teams from 14 to a non-fixed number that would be somewhere between 3 and 6 teams more or less every year. And those very worst teams that fall at the very bottom of the formula would all go into the lottery with no weighting of the ping pong balls according to order of finish. So if you suck, you’re in the lottery with an equal chance against other teams that suck. If you’re just below average, you’re not in the lottery at all. The key is to have the formula make the cut off a stark one so that it after 50 games or so it would highly unlikely for a simply bad (but not dreadful) team to lose their way into the lottery or a truly hideous team to win their way out of it. The worst of the worst would get the chance at the top pick. The simply bad, below average or not quite good enough to make the playoffs (in the Western Conference) would just pick according to record like everybody else. This ends the phenomenon of tanking, at least with respect to individual games at the end of the season because by then you’re either in or you’re out.
But anyway, back to the NFL. Teams go for 2 points when the score tells them to. So, one team scores two touchdowns while another kicks two field goals. 14-6. The team with 6 is now motivated to try a two pointer if you’re late enough in the game to tie it up. But with the potential for a missed kick, the team with the two touchdowns might miss a point after. Uh-oh. 13-6. Now the team with 6 will only try a kick to tie it; no reason to gamble going for 2. However many 2 point tries the occasional missed extra point will create, it will also un-create. So how is this better. Also, is watching a 32 yard kick particularly exciting? I never thought so, but Roger Goodell assures me that it is.
Meanwhile, all of the other things that are really wrong with the NFL are not going to get fixed. But we sure licked that boring extra point problem. Hey look, they’ve gotta spot it on the 15 for the extra point. Oh my God, have you ever seen anything so exciting?! I mean besides the draft lottery?
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