By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) This goes back to 1999, when the NFL cracked down on the overall quality of place-kicking by decreeing that they could only kick brand new balls right out of the box, the so-called “K Balls” that couldn’t be softened and rounded to make them more likely to be propelled accurately and far.
The rule was amended in 2007 in the wake of Tony Romo’s mishandled snap on a field goal try in the playoffs the previous year, with a special committee of coordinators overseeing the gameday balls and both teams allowed to rub them down — the balls, not the coordinators — 45 minutes before the game.
Then the extra-point distance was moved back to the 15-yard line before last season, and it seemed to have the desired effect. NFL kickers missed 71 PATs last year, the highest total since 1977 for the lowest conversion percentage since 1982.
And it was really working Sunday, with an all-time-record 12 missed attempts in a single day.
Is this fun? And is this what an entertainment-challenged league needs as it faces increasing scrutiny over the essential aesthetic quality of its product?
They have wanted worse kicking, and now they have it, squeezing the specialists into looking sillier than ever. If the owners and the league want to do away with kicking extra points entirely, it would be best just to do so instead of playing passive-aggressive games with the rules that try to prove some point that doesn’t interest anybody.