No point to this discussion

Here is my Friday column.

The NFL wants to make football more entertaining. The NFL means well.

An eight-member competition committee of coaches and executives believes the extra point needs fixing. It’s just like a 20-yard field goal. Last season, kickers made them 99.6 percent of the time.

Boring. Perfunctory.

“The extra point is almost automatic,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL Network in January. “It’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”

The competition committee has come up with two potential fixes:

1. Get rid of the extra-point kick. Make touchdowns worth seven points instead of six. Teams would have the choice to go for an eighth point by running or passing the ball into the end zone from the 2. If the team fails to score the eighth point, it is penalized and gets only six for the touchdown. So, there is a risk for going for the extra point.

2. Move the line of scrimmage for the extra-point kick from the 2 back to the 25. That’s a 43-yard kick. Hardly automatic. Kickers made 43-yarders about 85 percent of the time last season.

Either move would make football more exciting.

I don’t like either move. I object.

Changing the extra point is an NBA-move. The NBA is the third-most-popular professional sports league in the country behind the NFL and Major League Baseball. The NBA constantly reinvents itself, hoping to create excitement and, one day, become as popular as the other two sports.

In 1947, the NBA banned the zone defense. In 2001, the NBA unbanned the zone defense.

In 1979, the NBA added the 3-point shot. Now, the NBA is considering adding a 4-point shot. It’s also thinking about widening the court.

The NBA probably would eliminate dribbling if a focus group decided dribbling is boring. The NBA probably would sell out any element of basketball if doing so might increase the league’s popularity.

The NFL already is the most popular sport in the country, has held that distinction for about 30 years. The NFL doesn’t have to sell out its tradition for popularity like the NBA. The NFL should cultivate its tradition like MLB. Baseball honors its traditions, even the boring ones.

Baseball basically is the same sport Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson and Jackie Robinson played. With the exception of the designated hitter. That was a horrible, NBA-esque addition to the sport, and the American League should get rid of it. It’s not in the spirit of baseball. Hitting is a privilege. You should have to field a position to get the privilege. For the rest of this column, let’s pretend the DH doesn’t exist.

There is something perfect about baseball, and its numbers are sacred. Sixty-feet, 6 inches is the perfect distance between home plate and the rubber. You can say the number 60 feet, 6 inches to people and they instantly know what you mean. You don’t change baseball’s numbers now, just as you don’t rewrite the Torah in the 21st Century.

Ninety feet is another hallowed number. It is the perfect distance between the bases. Baseball’s dimensions are magical – like “PI.” A groundball to the shortstop is a routine out today, it was a routine out 100 years ago and it will be a routine out as long as people exist and play baseball.

Boring. Perfunctory.

MLB does not have to move the bases in 5 feet, change the distance between bases to 85 feet, to make groundballs more entertaining.

When a pitcher decides to intentionally walk a batter, the pitcher can’t just point to first base and wave the batter over there. The catcher has to stand up and hold his arm to the side, and the pitcher has to throw four balls.

Boring. Perfunctory.

Even Latin American leagues and Asian leagues embrace the boring parts of baseball. They don’t add twists to the rules and change the structure of the sport to make their leagues unique and exciting. Professional baseball pretty much is the same no matter where it’s played.

Not football. The Canadian Football League uses an extra-large field, and the Arena League uses an extra-small field. Those leagues’ entire existence is based on twists and gimmicks, as if football is not inherently entertaining.

But it is. The NFL should celebrate its tradition as baseball does. Leave the extra point alone.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at


  1. so you’re advocating tradition for the sake of tradition? Most rules in baseball really don’t need changing or doesn’t make sense to change. So other than the argument that the extra point has always been the way it is…why shouldn’t it change? It is boring and useless.

    The NFL rules have changed considerably over time We can start with something that was controversial at the time; a little something called the “forward pass”. I think most of us are glad that happened. It made the game more exciting.

    1. yup, back to leather helmets! No more forward passes! make kicking important again! the game is called FOOTball for gods sake!

  2. I agree. Only make changes if you are fixing something that is broken. Not because a section of fans with limited attention spans find something a tad tedious.

    If they want to “fix” the extra point it should be because they don’t believe it useful, not because it isn’t exciting. I do agree with making it more difficult and less automatic – there should be some reward for having a kicker that is good at his job and able to make a very high % of his extra points in more challenging circumstances. It would place a higher value on having a good kicker.

    1. what is the distinction between “broken” and “useful” in terms of extra point? why go through the motions of a complete waste of time?

      1. If the extra point is effectively the same as giving a team 7 points anyway (they miss so seldom it effectively is), then it isn’t useful. It doesn’t serve a purpose.

        I don’t like the idea of abandoning the extra point, but a solution that makes it more challenging and less automatic is worth considering.

  3. They need to find a way to get the defense more involved in the PAT so that there is more anticipation of the play being disrupted. As long as the snap is clean and the kick isn’t too low the only opportunity the defense truly has is to get someone around the edge and that’s boring. Find a way to give the defense a better shot at blocking the kick. Mandatory gap size on the offensive line, one less offensive player, etc. Do something that makes the play more exciting rather then remove it.

    1. how about a moving field goal post. and instead of place kicking it, the punter would have to run around and get into position to punt the ball through the moving uprights.

            1. what’s the difference between a drop kick and a punt other than a drop kick is a punt aimed between the uprights of the goal posts?

              1. Drop kick has to hit the ground before being kicked, it’s a rebound kick. Punter kicks off of free fall. Pointy ball, the drop kick is a bigger challenge.

      1. The uprights could move together and apart and you have to hit it through at the right time. The kicker wins a free round of put put for making it.

        1. i have an even better idea! change the goal posts into a Windmill! punt the ball through the moving blades!

  4. The NFL wants to remove the PAT to make room for more advertising.

    I’d go along with the scheme if they went straight from TD to kickoff with no long pauses… but I’m not holding my breath.

    I was a fan before the cynically named “two minute warning” (as if coaches needed help telling time). Schemes like removing PATs and adding extra playoff teams are about increasing revenue. Period.

    Businesses have a right to test elasticity of demand, but at some point the NFL needs to remember that football is a cultural asset as well as a business. This asset has major public capitol invested in the form of youth, high school and college football, broadcast bandwidth allocation etc. Time to stop squeezing blood out of this turnip.

  5. The NBA should put spots on the court at random spots. One spot could be 5 points, another spot would be 10 and so on. It worked out great back in the days when MTV would do the rock & jock games.

    1. would that be like making 50 yard passes and runs for touchdowns worth 21 points and 20 yard passes and runs for touchdowns worth 14 points?

      1. ha! too funny. Joe Gibbs had a similar idea…and he’s serious!

        “Even field goals, you know what I mean? I was one who wanted to let the team decide,” Gibbs said. “You get to the 10 you get one point, you get to the 5 you get two. I’m for anything like that where the team — that’s 11 guys — help determine the outcome of the game. Not one person kicking something.”

      1. I’ve said for years that the NBA and NFL should make it’s All Star game and Pro Bowl more like the old Rock and Jock games of the 90′s. Those were a lot of fun.

  6. Like the idea of eliminating the hurry up offense, this too should die a cruel death.
    I do disagree with your take on the DH in baseball. That position allows a player that is aging to continue playing and also keeps freak injuries to the pitcher from happening.

  7. Well pigs must be flying because I couldn’t agree more with article and I never agree with everything in one of Grant’s articles.

    This is change for the sake of change and it’s unnecessary. I grudgingly accept the changes to promote safety even if they make the game soft and frustrating when officials call legal hits penalties, but there is no reason to eliminate the extra point or change it. It takes 5 seconds and the option is always there to go for 2 so it’s the Coaches decision.

    I really hate the idea of changes to the core rules of Football. This change leads to another change, and then another change and before you know it, the game looks nothing like what drew you to it in the first place. I agree with Grant: leave it alone.

  8. By Dan Hanis

    “Villain of the Week: Curious Kaepernick Columnists

    Colin Kaepernick must have been a real butthead to middle-aged white sports columnists in a past life. We’ve been down this road before. We were sent down it again this week by Lowell Cohen of The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

    I’ll spare you too much of Lowell’s nonsense, but just know this is how it starts:

    “Colin Kaepernick is not an attractive personality. Usually he doesn’t say jack. And that’s not attractive. When he says jack — and more — he’s even less attractive.”

    Cool story, bro. The column caught the attention of Kaepernick’s mom, who buried Cohen on Twitter. Can you blame her?”

  9. This is off point, but…
    How much of the criticism of Baalke drafts is justified?
    Obviously, the miss on Jenkins was huge, and LMJ, well, what was that all about?
    But with a stacked roster of starters, many of the picks ended up on the practice squad.
    Question is, which 2012 and 2013 draft picks were signed by other teams off of the Niner practice squad? Anyone of significance?

            1. Yeah, they need a kicker if they don’t sign a vet. I think they will.

              Backup QB won’t be helping right away unless Kaep gets hurt. Swing OT they already have in Snyder. OLB is well covered. ILB is covered with Willis, Wilhoite and Moody while Bowman recovers. Picks in any of those positions are unlikely to do much this season. So why not a DT?

              1. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the inevitable injuries at WR Jack. The cupboard is pretty bare at WR. The other positions (aside from Safety and CB) at least have some depth.

              2. I must admit I had written something else and then changed it, so probably wasn’t the clearest thought I’d ever expressed.

                Basically I just meant that aside from WR, safety and CB, I don’t think there are any other positions that are likely to get much of any playing time this coming season as there are already guys in the starting and backup roles (unless a guy they draft does well and earns a role). Backup QB is an exception in that the backup QB rarely ever sees the field unless the starter gets hurt.

                A rookie WR has a chance to see some action this year if they can either beat Patton as the #3 or if injuries occur like they usually do. Safety is the only position on the team that doesn’t have a starter in place. WR and CB have holes in the backup spots.

              3. Scooter

                I agree with you….we also have Osgood who no one knows if he has hands or not. Bolden gives 100%, but after 2/3 of the season, those years and hits start showing. Draft DAnthony Thomas out of Oregon, and ONE of the WR’s out of A&M. Then you have speed and muscle…..oh, I forgot THEN PLAY THEM!

    1. Sorry but i felt that was very unprofessional and not necessary. We all could have discussions about our opinion but do not need to make it personal

    2. Is that the rest of the video? If it is, then I have ZERO respect to that guy! I’m sorry Grant, I know he’s your dad but that’s just how I feel about him.

      1. Whats so sad about this whole thing is the tone of the message and how its delivered. On one hand i completely understand Mr Cohn’s agreement about paying CK 18 to 20 million when he has not proven to be an elite QB yet. CK is a good QB with huge potential to become great. He has to continue to develop as QB and paying him 18 million is a huge investment for our organization. However if I was CK based on my performance, as well as how some of the QBs are paid and my potential i would be asking for the same amount as well. This is a business and both sides will try to get the best deal. Therefore, I just do not believe it is necessary to present your opinion by attacking CK personally because he wants to be compensated and then go after his mother and his leadership character! The comments made were condescending and uncalled for. I would expect more from a vetern professional reporter.

        1. Honestly, his opinion on how much CK is worth doesn’t really bother me. I think you can make a case either way, but the personal attack is really out of line especially in his profession, in my opinion. And on top of that, instead of apologizing to CK’s mom or at least explain to her why he went with the personal attack, he basically told her to not open her mouth again because it doesn’t look good on her son. Really? And don’t start me with the Justin’s mom’s comparison…

        2. I don’t think Lowell and Grant are reporters. That is to say, they aren’t paid to report facts. They’re columnists/bloggers and are paid to create traffic and controversial opinions.

    1. for sure an option. Except you will never now what you are getting since Crab is an established NFL player vs. a College kid that has not played a single down in the NFL! I would trade Crab for Mike Evans or Odell B

      1. Definitely a risky move, and not one I would necessarily make. But this would be the year to do it – when there are lots of good WRs available in the draft. If they got an early 1st rounder for Crab they could potentially get Evans AND Beckham.

        1. I hear you Scooter, but I think it will be an easier decision for the FO if the Niners are not a superbowl contender team. I think you could argue that the next two years gives the Niners the best chance of winning it all. For that, I will not touch Crab.

    2. I had mentioned this in my last mock draft and was skewered for it. But (like you said Scooter) this may be the best year to do it, though it is a very risky move.

  10. I think it’s funny that those are questioning the size of Michael Bennett.

    Yes, he’s played primarily in a 4-3, yet Carroll said that he has 3-4 personnel. Anyways Bennett is far more productive then McDonald who becomes expendable if the 49ers decide to sign him as in trading him for either a pick in 2014 or a pick in 2015.

    Bennett in the last two seasons has 17.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 10 stuffs, McDonald has a total of 16.5 in 7 seasons and he’s got 9 stuffs over the last four seasons.

    Don’t forget that Glenn Dorsey played extremely well in 2013 for the 49ers.

    1. Not sure why that is funny. Red Bryant played McDonald’s 5-tech role for the Seahawks, not Bennett. Bryant has 3.5 sacks for his entire career (6 years), yet is considered to be a good 5-tech. You are better off comparing Bennett to Justin Smith, as they play similar roles.

  11. The only thing the NFL needs to fix is the rules. And personally, I don’t care about the attempt to “soften” the game. That is what it is. What I want, as a fan, is for the rules to be less ambiguous so educated fans don’t question whether or not the NFL is taking advantage of said ambiguity in favor of more lucrative matchups.

  12. Eliminating punts all together would be extreme but it would make football more exciting.

    How about something more reasonable? I read somewhere that safeties occur on average, once every 14 games in the NFL. That’s pretty damn rare! A safety should be worth 4 points rather than 2 measly points.

  13. Baseball is boring and they shouldn’t hold onto the extra point just for tradition. If they can add even more strategy and excitement to the game by changing the extra point then they should.

  14. Baseball is an interesting, but inaccurate example, because:

    1. The height of the mound has not been constant, or even well defined, through baseball history. Before 1893, the pitcher threw from a pitcher’s box, which worked better with a level surface rather than a sloped one. In 1893, the pitching distance was changed, and the box was replaced with the pitcher’s rubber. Pitchers discovered that they could get more speed on the ball if they were allowed to stride downhill, so their groundskeepers would provide them with a mound. Those early mounds were not regulated; in Pitching in a Pinch, Christy Mathewson commented that the height of the mound might be changed from day to day to suit the pitching style of the home team’s pitcher.
    The regular changing of mound height was eventually prohibited. Teams settled on a height of 15 inches for the mound. Despite this regulation, some teams were accused of using a higher than regulation height mound; Dodger Stadium was particularly notorious for having a high mound. Following the incredibly low scoring in 1968, the rules were changed to reduce the mound to the contemporary 10 inch height. Some accusations of gamesmanship with mounds continue, usually with visiting teams compaining that the mounds in the visitor’s bullpen don’t match the mound of the field, so that relievers entering the game aren’t properly adapted to the game mound.

    2. Baseball has a downward trend. It is probably one of the worst sports to hold as an example to be followed. The only reason one would even consider it is if they love baseball and they’re biased.

  15. To all of the traditionalists out there, why was adding a 2 pt conversion to the game or moving the goal post back ten yards, making every kick 10 yards harder, or moving the point of kick off back and forth part of the tradition and tinkering with the extra point not?

  16. First off I want to compliment Grant for the article. It’s pertinent and the NBA/MLB examples make good points. I think the common denominator in this is TV media moguls imposing their Showbiz mentality on the leagues. They do represent the cash cow, so they have everyone’s attention. But they don’t have to call the various owners or league execs stipulating their wants, they have cultivated a situation where the leagues think and act like extensions of NYC/Hollywood.
    The proposed changes themselves don’t bother me that much, I could live with either proposal. I’m neither for nor against the proposals, but I agree that they are unnecessary and should therefore not be made. I agree that change for casual reasons should be avoided, and that some NFL rule changes have not been for the better. Changes for player safety I support, but finding ways to integrate new rules through the Refs (as opposed to just dictating them by executive fiat in the NFL Office) needs to be incorporated. The Refs probably need a Training Camp each spring to find consensus on how to interpret each season’s set of new rules.

  17. Two rule changes I would favor…

    - Sweeping TV deregulation in 1980 removed caps on the number of commercials per hour…. and also resulted in on screen advert graphics (even during play). Capping advertising to pre-1980 levels would greatly improve the game.

    - Mandatory Gatorade showers for the losing coach, right at on 50 yard line. After a teams 8th loss, Gatorade showers for the owner too.

  18. Seems to me that the “problem” here is that field goals and extra points are too easy nowadays with the proficiency of place kickers. Why not just narrow the goal posts? That would make longer field goals harder and push down the automatic aspect of extra points.

    Seems like a simple solution which wouldn’t mess with the rest of the game.

  19. Good morning fellow 9er fans. FYI Phil Barber now has a blog on the Press Democrat site Today he has an article about the 9ers trading Crabtree I believe its worth a look. Grant have you read it? do you have an opinion?

    1. How the heck can Phil be that mean? Trade Crabs to Buffalo? Sheesh, ease up, bud.
      Watkins is not the Messiah, even though he is good. I’d think 9er Fans should just give up on that dream. As to Phil’s point about Crbas and Boldin being the same instead of complimentary, isn’t that what Grant was saying last year when SF signed Q? Yes, and the production was pretty good. Remember what offensive scheme Harbaugh runs; it ain’t Marino & The Two Marks.

  20. my latest attempt:


































    1. Pretty good, although I’ve got nothing on your 7th Rounders; who? Sure. : >)
      If they grab Boyd or someone like him on the 2nd/3rd Day, don’t they have to also bring in some Journeyman FA to be the #2? Boyd, McCarron, even Bethel-Thompson don’t inspire confidence.

    2. So you think Truitt falls to 61? I saw a Mock today that had him at #14!?! Most guesses I’ve seen have been 25-45. I’m sure all guesses will evolve.

    3. Nice draft Rocket but there are a few caveats with it.
      1. I don’t see Beckham lasting that long. The 15-20 range is where I think he will be taken, with the Baltimore being his most likely destination.
      2. Fuller is in the same boat as Beckham. He and Roby are both classified first rounders with the Chargers most likely snagging the last of the two standing.
      3. I love Richburg, but I don’t see the team drafting a center that high after the Kilgore signing.

      1. Yeah, I think fanspeak has some of its rankings a tad wrong if those guys are falling to those spots.

        I wouldn’t be shocked to see the 49ers take an OC/OG early though. Kilgore, like Ian Williams last year, has been signed to an extension with an eye to starting, but that didn’t stop them signing Dorsey last offseason.

      1. Yeah, out of the top 6 picks I think only 1 of them ends up falling that far – Bucannon.

        If I had to guess, I’d say:
        - Beckham goes between 20 – 28. Too good not to.
        - Fuller goes between 25 – 40. I reckon there will be quite a run on CBs between early 20s through to around pick 40-45.
        - Tuitt goes between 20 – 50. Reasonably large range as to where he might go off the board – type of guy some teams will love, others won’t want a bar of.
        - Richburg goes between 55 – 75. Steadily moving up as he keeps impressing post college season.
        - Desir goes between 50 – 75. That type of length, size, explosiveness, hip flip and ball skills shouldn’t fall beyond the early 3rd round, even if he is raw.

        1. Yeah no doubt some of these players may not be there but keep in mind that with the depth this draft has players are going to fall that you don’t expect. Not everyone can go in the first and second round. I pretty stoked about the quality of prospects that will still be available in the 3rd and 4th rounds.

  21. I believe Bill Billcheat came up with this idea. Move the two point conversion to the one yard line, they make it to the end zone, it is two points. Leave the extra point as it is. Now I know why he would want to change it to the one, because Brady is the best in the business with quarterback sneaks. I like the idea and it would be interesting to see how Harbaugh would react, because he is a conservative coach.

  22. Grant,

    Saying the CFL existence is based on twists and gimics is an absolutely moronic statement. You are completely clueless. Your blog and articles get worse by the day.

    1. Glenn Dorsey will be tough to unseat as the starting NT – he was very good last season. If Williams does beat him out, Dorsey adds great value as the #1 backup along all 3 spots on the DL.

        1. I feel fine with Dorsey/Wiiliams. Especially with the injury potential. In terms of the DL depth, I’m more confused by the Dobbs tender. He’s never going to see the field as a DL and I’m pretty sure no one is going to pay him $1.4. That’s where the depth guy goes, unless Baalke is going to go after Easley.

          1. Agreed – tendering Dobbs was a bit of a strange one for me. He’ll be competing with Dorsey/ Williams (depending on which one doesn’t win the starting NT job), Carradine, Dial and Jerod-Eddie to be active on game day. I think they could have easily let him go to save some cap space.

            Since they tendered him I think the chances of taking at DL in the draft aren’t very good, unless as Jon says it is a guy like Easley that they would stash on IR for a year.

              1. Even without Dobbs on the roster, one of those guys wasn’t making the 53. They only need 5 DL suited up, and 6 on the 53.

  23. My solution to the PAT is whoever scores the TD kicks the extra point. I think that would be entertaining. Imagine Gore or Vernon going up to kick. Or Kaep with his Gazelle like legs. Ha imagine if a DT scored on a turnover. In that case I bet the team goes for two instead.

  24. Grant,
    You assert, with the intention to insult, that the CFL’s entire existence is based on “twists and gimmicks”.

    You should do some research before you slander something.

    The rules of Canadian football have been essentially unchanged for many, many decades. For those who don’t know, those “twists and gimmicks” you snidely dismiss include: a wider and longer field, deeper end zone, played with 12 players and 3, instead of 4 downs. Also receivers can move prior to the snap.

    The end result of these rules is an emphasis on the passing game with lots of draws, screens, etc. at the expense of a power based running game (although you see that too, just not as much).

    These rules have been in place, and fundamentally unchanged, for decades. The Grey Cup has been awarded since 1909 or something,

    The CFL is in fact all about tradition, despite calls from ignorant people to change the rules to make it more similar to the US game. You should watch a game or two instead of insulting it.

    Now, about the NBA…..

    1. Not to mention .. the CFL has two 50 yd lines, Angus ..
      Strange to see that.. but it works great for them ..

      Grant … agree totally with the premise of this
      thread … but .. think you forgot to mention the #1
      constant .. in this .. ” .. lets make the game more interesting ..”
      discussion …

      Roger Goodell is a buffoon

    2. Well stated, Angus.
      I think it probably IS fair to call Arena League gimmicky; it was made on the fly and on the cheap from a TV prioritized tail-wags-dog perspective. It seems that Grant lumped CFL ball with Arena ball because they’re both different than NFL. He does seem to subscribe to the ‘only first place counts’ theme, so anything different than the NFL must be inferior. You made a compelling arguement that he’s mistaken on that point.

      1. Thanks Brotha,
        In the CFL’s glory days of the ’70′s and early ’80′s, the league was chock full of major talent. The era of big tv contracts for the NFL and the big paydays for the players came, and quickly the CFL was relegated to “last chance saloon” territory for pro footballers.
        It’s still entertaining, lots of good players cut their teeth there, and go on to great success in the NFL, but….modern economics of North American pro sports has really been its downfall.
        That’s also my beef with the NHL. The Canadian teams are forced to subsidize markets like Phoenix, Carolina, Nashville, Florida that have essentially zero grassroots hockey fans, and no business having a team. It’s all about owners milking big US cities for a free arena. Working people giving more money to the fat cats. Welcome to North America, we’re open for business, and we’re suckers.

        1. Yep. Even here in Bay Area NHL has limited penetration. All due respect to the many Sharks fans, but it’s a smaller sample. I visited New England a couple of years ago and every little town had a rink, bigger towns more rinks. My neighbor kid drives from Petaluma to Oakland for his club. NHL All Stars played San Jose and nobody knew; I was surfing, LOL.

  25. To make it more interesting, the FG could be taken from the point where the drive started. If you score from the 30, you kick from the 30. score from the 10, kick from the 10 etc. of course if you are to close, you can move back.

  26. While I’m not a cfl fan, the size of the field is not a gimmick. It’s been that way for about 100 years, give or take.

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