Maybe it’s a real proposal and maybe it’s just a way to stay in the media spotlight in the two week lull between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, but this week the NFL is floating the idea of eliminating extra points, or the Point After Touchdown if you want to use the official name.
I have no strong opinion on the elimination of the play one way or another. On one hand, it’s hardly ever missed, but on the other, when it is missed, it’s usually a game changer. I think it probably will go away eventually, but it probably won’t be the end of the world when it does.
But, there is one aspect of eliminating the PAT that I think could be interesting, and it all has to do with the Packers’ record books.
Scoring in football is a little bit unusual. Six points for one play, three for another, two for another, and one for a PAT. The transition from a running game to a passing game also caused a shift in who scored the most points in the NFL. Teams used to bank on their biggest, baddest running back to rack up the points, and he’d generally kick field goals and PAT’s as well, leading to some monster scoring seasons for talented backs and ends in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.
But with the explosion of passing offenses and the rise of the kicking specialist, kickers started to rack up impressive scoring seasons, too, edging the old guard out of the record books. For evidence, you need not look any further than the top ten scoring seasons in Packers history:
- Paul Hornung (1960) – 176 points
- Paul Hornung (1961) – 146 points
- Mason Crosby (2007) – 141 points
- Mason Crosby (2013) – 141 points
- Mason Crosby (2011) – 140 points
- Don Hutson (1942) – 138 points
- Ryan Longwell (2000) – 131 points
- Mason Crosby (2009) – 129 points
- Chris Jacke (1993) – 128 points
- Ryan Longwell (2002) 128 points
- Ryan Longwell (1998) 128 points
- Chester Marcol (1972) 128 points
See what I mean? All kickers, and almost all of them boosted by just booting a bunch of extra points. In 2011 alone, Mason Crosby kicked 68 PAT’s! He got all the way up to the 5th best scoring season in Packers’ history and almost exactly half his work for the season was done with minimal rush from 12 yards away. That’s pretty lame.
But, if we take PAT’s out of the consideration for the scoring records, something interesting happens. Suddenly, it’s less a measure of whose team had awesome seasons and got kickers a bunch of free points. It becomes an actual historic record of who had an incredible season. Take a look:
- Paul Hornung (1961) – 135 points
- Ahman Green (2003) – 120 points
- Jim Taylor (1962) – 114 points
- Sterling Sharpe (1994) – 108 points
- Paul Hornung (1961) – 105 points
- Don Hutson (1942) – 105 points
- Ryan Longwell (2000) – 99 points
- Mason Crosby (2013) – 99 points
- Chester Marcol (1972) – 99 points
- Mason Crosby (2007) – 93 points
- Chris Jacke (1993) – 93 points
I like that list much better. You have guys from the 40’s, 60’s, 90’s, 00’s, and the teens on the list, which is great. You have running backs (Hornung, Green), receivers (Hutson, Sharpe), and kickers (Longwell, Crosby, Marcol, Jacke), on the list, which is a big improvement. And you have much fewer people topping the 100 point mark, which makes it feel like an actual accomplishment rather than something someone could accomplish more or less every season, which seems to be the case as far as kickers go.
What does this mean? In the grand scheme of things, probably very little. All those PAT’s are still going to be on the record book forever. But I think taking some white out to the old historical record is a good thing now and then, if only because it might lend a little perspective toward what’s really impressive.