Should the NFL Get Rid of Kickers?
Field-goal kicking is wildly exciting for all the wrong reasons. This is why I have long proposed a change that will never, ever happen because it makes too much sense. Give place-kicking the boot. That's right, eliminate it.
Force supremely talented offensive players to keep doing what they do best: Make first downs. Fourth-and-5 at the opponent's 25? You have to GO FOR IT. And you keep going for it until you score six points or you're stopped. If you score a touchdown, you always go for the far more exciting two-point conversion.
Forget about deer antler spray.
Forget about an NFL player going on a homophobic rant.
Forget about the NFL bringing up the stupid 18-game schedule again.
Bayless, you take the cake.
Heck, while you're at it, why don't you just get rid of those pesky officials and let the players decide what's legal and what isn't.
Bayless wouldn't abolish punters, but placekickers are the devil's work, in his eyes. He says, "Just let great football players decide games by, you know, playing football."
Gimme a break.
Kickers are just as much a part of football as quarterbacks.
Bayless claims that punting should stay because it, "doesn't directly impact the scoreboard the way field goals do. Punting is an underrated art because of the strategy, skill and athleticism involved."
As if field goals weren't a strategic choice.
As if placekickers weren't highly skilled craftsmen.
Most of Bayless' argument in this case is based on one man, David Akers of the San Francisco 49ers. Akers has had an atrocious year, missing 14-of-44 attempts and costing his team at least two games in the process.
Bayless doesn't want to see the Super Bowl hinge on Akers' left foot, and as a 49ers fan, I wholeheartedly agree. He is frustrated that kickers have hot and cold streaks, much like golfers, who suddenly lose their ability to hit the ball where they want it to go.
But that doesn't change the fact that placekickers are an integral part of the game we all know and love. And in a game that's ever changing, due to legitimate player-safety concerns, the NFL would be foolish to remove a part of the game that isn't broken.
Regular-Season Kicking Stats Have Gone Up
In the past four seasons, the NFL has experienced an uptick in the number of attempted and made field goals.
When you multiply the made field goals, you find that placekickers account for an astonishing amount of points per season.
- 2012: 2,556 points
- 2011: 2,514 points
- 2010: 2,382 points
- 2009: 2,268 points
Kickers are converting on well over 80 percent of their attempts, league-wide, and they are producing an incredible amount of scoring, which is what fans, in general, like to see.
Furthermore, from the evidence above, it's clear that NFL teams are relying on kickers now more than ever before.
Would scoring go up or down if NFL teams went for it on 4th downs instead of kicking?
NFL offenses are evolving these days. Bigger, stronger and faster quarterbacks are taking over in place of traditional pocket passers in response to the way defenses have gotten faster and more athletic.
As this next evolution unfolds, we're likely going to continue seeing these kicking numbers go up, not the other way around, making kickers more and more valuable in the coming years.
Sure, touchdowns are more exciting than field goals, but taking away all these points is just ludicrous.
Super Bowls Won/Lost By Kickers
Four Super Bowls have been won or lost on a last-second field-goal attempt.
Kickers, just like quarterbacks, have had their moments of sunshine and rain after either nailing the game-winning field goal to take home the Lombardi Trophy or missing the crucial kick.
Here is a list of the Super Bowls that have been won and lost on a late field-goal attempt:
- Super Bowl V: Jim O'Brian hit from 32 yards with five seconds on the clock, giving the Baltimore Colts the 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- Super Bowl XXV: Scott Norwood infamously misses wide right at the end of regulation, allowing the New York Giants to beat the Buffalo Bills.
- Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal as time expired to give the New England Patriots the victory over the St. Louis Rams.
- Super Bowl XXXVIII: Adam Vinatieri made a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock to give the Patriots the victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Who knows what might have happened if kickers weren't a part of the NFL.
Perhaps one of these games might have been decided like the infamous contest in Seattle when the Green Bay Packers were jilted of a victory by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' "Fail Mary."
Don't scoff. It happened once, and it could happen again. Sure, it's an extreme example, but we all know officials—replacement or not—have made some terrible calls throughout the years.
There's nothing wrong with a game being won or lost by a kicker. At least it's pure.
Saying placekickers should be kicked out of the NFL is akin to saying Dwight Howard shouldn't attempt free throws, since he's so bad at them.
Getting rid of kickers would be similar to getting rid of bunting in baseball, since you can actually hurt your team with a pop-up if you're not careful.
Saying placekickers should be kicked out of the NFL is just like saying soccer games shouldn't end on penalty kicks, since a goalie might have an off game.
Should the NFL get rid of kickers?
As Rich Eisen has ingrained into the soul of America, kickers are people too, and what they bring to the game of football is as important as any other player on the roster.
The NFL won't be getting rid of placekickers any time soon.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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