Thursday, November 07, 2002

I sent this to CNNSI's Paul Zimmermann's mailbag, since he'd brought up possible modifications for the extra-point rule in American football. He'll probably think I'm a nut. Maybe he'd be right. Let's see if he answers.

Two rules change ideas:

1) Two points for a run, one for a kick. You can either line up at the 25 and either kick for one or fake kick and then run or pass for two, or line up at the 5 and run or pass for two. Kicking for one would be illegal if you lined up at the 5. The ball would remain in play, no matter what, until whistled dead, so a blocked kick, fumble, or interception could be returned for a TD. These changes would make extra points something reasonably difficult to get and even slightly risky, not just something automatic like a kick from the 9-yard line. A 42-yarder would be a bit of a challenge but usually doable by most kickers. But if your kicker is hobbling and it's ten below in Green Bay with the winds swirling and blowing snow around, then what do you do? You might just fake that kick. And choosing to go for two from the five means that they'll have to run wide, pass, or use play-action or some other deceptive play, not just slam it into the line--unless the defense gets too worried about all the wideouts you flood the end zone with. You then give the ball to your big back to take right up the middle for two--unless the defense doesn't bite... Stopping the extra point/s might actually shift momentum in favor of the team about to receive the kickoff. Whatever, I think adopting this solution would make the extra point/s much more interesting for the fans without corrupting the essence of the game. I would indeed argue that since the essence of the game is running plays and defending against them in clutch situations, this rule change would dramatically improve the game by creating many more clutch situations.

2) Borrow this one from soccer. Give a yellow card to any player guilty of a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct foul, in addition to the 15-yard penalty. If a player accumulates two yellow cards in a game, he gets a red card and is ejected for the rest of that game and the team's next one too. A direct red card can be given by the ref in case of a truly flagrant foul. The player is then directly ejected and also misses the next game. If a player accumulates five yellow cards over the course of the season, he is also ejected from the match and suspended for the next game. This would nip things like the Derrick Thomas Monday night meltdown in the bud, and provide some real punishment to those players who frequently break the rules. If you're suspended for a game, you don't get paid for it; the paycheck worth 1/16 of your net yearly NFL salary goes to some league charity. And would you sign a guy who you knew would miss two games and parts of two others if you were a GM? What if you had another guy who was almost as good in the same position, but never gets called for flagrant fouls? Who would you trade? This would cut down massively on violent play.

Sorry for being so long-winded; I tried to respond to all possible objections and add a few details. So what do you think?

John Chappell

No comments: