The NFL loves ceremonies.
The NFL does not love ceremonial plays.
To that end, the NFL is giving up its biggest “gimme” play, the 99% effective extra-point kick. By a 30-2 vote Tuesday, the league’s owners approved moving the line of scrimmage on PATs to the 15-yard line — making the kick 13 yards longer — and adding an incentive for the defense. Under the new rule, defenses can return botched kicks, and fumbled or intercepted two-point attempts for two points.
The rule change has been approved for the 2015 season and then will be reviewed.
“This isn’t an experiment,” said Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith, a member of the competition committee, about the caveat. “This is a rule change and part of the game.”
The owners decided not to move the line of scrimmage on two-point conversions from the two to the one, as one proposal suggested.
Moving the extra-point kicks isn’t likely to have a dramatic effect on scoring. It makes them 33-yard attempts, and the conversion rate on those kicks during the last decade has been roughly 94%. Plus extra points have the benefit of being kicked from the middle of the field.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft held a news conference at the beginning of the meetings to announce his team will not appeal NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision in the Deflategate case.
“I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months,” Kraft said. “I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal.”
This month, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them a first-round pick in next year’s draft and a fourth-rounder in 2017 for allegedly deflating the footballs they used in January’s AFC championship game, in theory making the ball easier to throw and catch.
Quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games as part of Goodell’s punishment, and is appealing that penalty.
Kraft said he will not continue to fight the decision on behalf of the team because, even though he disagrees with the ruling, he believes Goodell is “doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32" teams.
“I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision,” Kraft said. “But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL.”
Kraft spoke for a few minutes but did not take questions from the media.
The NFL Players Assn. applied pressure to Goodell on two fronts Tuesday, asking thats the commissioner recuse himself from the Brady situation and filing a motion to have Goodell and the league held in contempt of court in the Adrian Peterson case.
The union argued Goodell should not be involved in the discipline of Brady and a special arbitrator be appointed. In a written statement, the NFLPA said the commissioner has a “history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players [that] makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.”
In the Peterson case, the union contends Goodell and the league have not complied with the decision of U.S. District Judge David Doty, who ruled the league made a mistake in its suspension of the Minnesota Vikings star.
“On Feb. 26, the NFL was ordered to change their decision in the Peterson matter and reissue a ruling consistent with our collective bargaining agreement,” NFLPA President Eric Winston wrote.
“The union made multiple requests to the league office asking the arbitrator, who serves at the direction of the commissioner, to comply with the law and avoid further litigation. Despite our attempts, they have done nothing and leave us no choice but to seek this motion.”