O'Reilly: Make the NFL's extra point more exciting
Enough conservatism; how about a radical idea? Not for politics, but for professional football.
My brother, Gerry, who you'd have to tie to a chair to make him watch a game, thought of an intriguing rule change concerning the extra point 25 years ago that would make him more interested in watching. I've never encountered a person who thought it was a bad idea, but at the same time, until last week, it was not something I'd have the guts to broadcast in a column.
But that changed when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- are those boos I hear, New Yorkers? -- blurted out the very same concept at a postgame news conference. Extra points in professional football, he noted, have become a great big waste of time, "the biggest waste of time in sports," Sports Illustrated's Peter King calls them, and that, presumably, includes the time it takes to intentionally walk a batter in baseball.
So why not shake things up, O'Reilly and Belichick ask, by requiring the player who scores the touchdown to kick the extra point. It's a simple idea, but one that would bring a whole new dimension to the game, not to mention added excitement and tension.
Put yourself in the huddle:
Quarterback: "Handoff to Jones on three."
Right tackle: "Um, Peyton. I don't mean to question you. Jones is a bull inside the five; I get that. But he's a real clutz with his foot. He can't kick for his life. Why don't you throw it to Stevenson? He's got a great leg."
Quarterback: "Stevenson dropped three balls last week in Cincinnati. Sorry, Stevie, but it's true. We don't get to kick an extra point if we don't score the touchdown."
Center: "Give it to me, Peyton. I went seven for 10 in practice this week. Center sneak. I'm telling you, I can do it."
Delays of game aside, it really could be fun.
Belichick wasn't married to this one idea. He also proposed moving the ball closer to the goal line to encourage more two-point conversion attempts, or farther from the goal line to make extra points a trifle more difficult. He even talked about bringing back the drop kick. But nothing seems as interesting to this fan as the concept of a tight end or running back lining up for the extra point.
As it is, extra points are successfully executed more than 99 percent of the time. It's why you see people heading to the bathrooms at stadiums immediately after touchdowns, although I always considered that a jinx. It's virtually automatic, and that's dull. The O'Reilly Rule, dare I call it, would be far more interesting.
No one is suggesting that this be tried at Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium next month, but what's the downside to throwing it into a preseason game or two next year to see if fans like it?
Think about it while you're watching the NFL playoffs this weekend. Consider how much it would change the equation inside the red zone for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.
One thing that still needs to be worked through, though, are the holders. What if, say, a Phil Loadholt from the Minnesota Vikings turned out to be a savant at splitting the uprights. At 6 feet 8, 343 pounds, with a size 15 shoe, would you want to hold the ball for him?
William F. B. O'Reilly is a columnist and a Republican political consultant.