For a vicariously thrilling moment on Sunday, I was Larry Allen of the Dallas Cowboys. I was the strongest man in the National Football League, and I had my kicker by the face mask. If I ripped off his helmet and his head stayed in it, so be it.
Not that I truly wish harm on any of the football subspecies known as place-kickers, but what player or coach or fan hasn't wanted to strangle one of these wimpy wackos?
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Allen went after Jose Cortez because Cortez had just smother-hooked an extra point attempt. Yes, the snap was off target and the hold was late, but Allen was in no mood for excuses or lip from a little non-football player whose unpredictable ability to kick the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights can win or lose games played by supremely athletic warriors.
For an enraged moment, Allen wanted to eliminate Cortez.
I'll go him one better: For a long time, I've wanted to eliminate place kicking altogether.
I'm not in the least bit kidding. I say kick kickers out of football. They're the only flaw in my favorite game.
But what an incomprehensible flaw this is.
Giant, gifted men battle their guts out playing a violent game, and the outcome is all too often decided by some former soccer player who has absolutely nothing to do with football. No football talent. No football heart. No football mind.
No joke? Yes, joke.
If a Martian landed in your backyard one Sunday afternoon and you invited him in to watch some NFL, he would soon conclude that the little guys who kick are the most valuable players in football. And surely the highest paid.
After all, New England's Adam Vinatieri has won two Super Bowls with late field goals. Jim O'Brien won one for the Baltimore Colts. And of course, Scott Norwood's wide-right miss stained the careers of Buffalo greats Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith, who could have been remembered for one Super Bowl win instead of four losses.
College football has been equally plagued. How many times have kickers cost Florida State games against arch-rival Miami? More than Bobby Bowden has clichés.
My point: Three-point field goals count way, way too much.
So do away with them. Purify football. Let the real players decide the game.
When an offense faces, say, fourth-and-4 at its opponent's 29-yard line, no more automatically lining up for a field goal. You go for it!
And you keep going for it on fourth down until you fail or score a touchdown.
When you do score, you don't automatically trot out a guy who looks like an accountant and whose neck barely supports his helmet. No more ho-hum PATs. You go for two every time!
You actually keep playing football.
Sure, you can argue that the field goal is football's most exciting play. But that's for all the wrong reasons. What if the deep snapper (who usually isn't good enough to play regularly) misfires? Or what if the holder (who's usually the backup quarterback) muffs a good snap or fails to spin the laces away from the kicker's foot?