Put field goals in their place!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of watching guys with clean uniforms and strange-sounding names decide the outcome of National Football League games.

You know who I'm talking about, those demitasse, soccer-style field goal kickers who trot onto the field with five seconds showing on the game clock and boom the ball between the uprights.

Most of them don't even look as though they wear shoulder pads and would have trouble tackling Don Knotts without becoming unraveled.

They're not football players, they're specialists who know little about what their teammates do and whose job only takes a few seconds.

The next thing you know they'll be attaching a wind-drift indicator to the top of the holder's helmet!

I'm not saying that the field goal should be outlawed from pro football completely. I'm not unaware that it takes certain highly developed kicking skills to steer a football through the goal posts, especially if there is any kind of crosswind.

I'm only saying that no game in which 22 players agitate a bag of wind while 60 minutes tick away on a controlled clock should be decided by an educated toe. It's too easy; it's un-American; and besides, my trash pickup man doesn't like it.

The solution is to permit field goals to be kicked with less than two minutes showing on the clock in a tie game, but not to let them determine the final outcome. That is, unless the opposing team is given the same opportunity to score.

For example, with time running out in a tie game, the team with the football kicks a field goal from the opponent's 30-yard line. Instead of the game being over, the trailing team's field goal kicker is now given an opportunity to make a field goal from the same spot.

If he is successful (regardless of how many seconds are left on the clock), the game is considered to be in instant overtime and can now only be won by rushing or passing for a touchdown.

The result is that football is returned to the trenches, where it belongs, and you don't make a hero out of some 150-pound leprechaun with an oversize leg.

After a two-minute rest period, there would now be a flip of the coin by the officials to see which team kicks off in the 15-minute overtime period. Naturally you're wondering what happens if the trailing team doesn't make the field goal. Obviously, my dear Mr. Rozelle, the score stands and the first team wins.

On another front, the NFL could cut itself a huge chunk of showtime by changing its punt, kickoff, punt return, and kickoff return rules so that it would really open up the game.

Certainly one of the most exciting parts of pro football is when a back has eluded the heavy traffic of gang-tackling defenders and is now relying on his own moves to advance the football.

Instead of cultivating this kind of excitement to its fullest, the NFL kills it by letting teams kick off from their own 35-yard line, knowing that the ball frequently winds up deep in the end zone, whereupon receiving teams invariably opt for the automatic touchback to get the ball on the 20-yard line.

I'd end this by having teams kick off from their own 20-yard lines. Also, a few other well-conceived rules changes could be made to increase the frequency of punt returns - another exciting play that is too often eliminated nowadays, either by the fair catch or by punts that go into the end zone or out of bounds.

The way the NFL is being run today, too many teams are playing not to lose, when going all out to win is what the customer wants to see.

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