Justin Tucker BALTIMORE, MD – NOVEMBER 27: Kicker Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after kicking a field goal in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Justin Tucker is a kicker. Not coincidentally, he thinks it’s time the league gave something back to the kickers.

In an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Tucker noted that in recent years, the league has moved to make the life of a kicker more difficult, with the PAT being moved back to make extra points more meaningful. Which has worked, as the conversion rate has fallen just enough to make it suspenseful.

To combat that, Tucker thinks it’d be fun for the league to adopt a rule change regarding kickoffs:

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who has 35 touchbacks this season, thinks there should be a reward for that combination of power and accuracy.

“The idea is if you split the uprights on a kickoff you get a point or you get rewarded for it in some way,” Tucker said Tuesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “The version I like is, you split the upright, you get a point. I’ve also heard that if you split the uprights, and instead of the opposing team starting at the 25, maybe they start at the 10, just to make the game a little more interesting.”
First of all, the league moved kickoffs up a few seasons back in an effort to increase touchbacks, so rule changes haven’t entirely been doom and gloom for kickers. Second, who cares about kickers, anyway?
Not that kickers aren’t an integral part of the roster, or that the skill they provide isn’t a legitimate portion of the sport. It is! It’s called football for a reason. But that importance to the sport doesn’t entitle them to any sympathy treatment from the league from a rules standpoint. Let’s take a look at the two options Tucker suggests, though, on their own merits.
First, getting a point for nailing a kickoff through the uprights is never going to happen. It’s an indefensible play, and the last thing NFL coaches need when down four points late in the game is an excuse to settle for a field goal. It’s obviously fun; as a kid, I used to hope the kicker would do this. It’s sort of like how the camera follows a full-court heave in a basketball game, even if it’s clearly after the buzzer. It’s fun if it goes in, whether or not it counts. But that’s all it is.
The other option, of a more rewarding touchback, is more palatable on the surface. But again, it’s an indefensible play, with kickoffs recently moved up in order to promote fewer kick returns. It would make more sense if the kicking team would have to declare they were attempting the super-touchback, and then have to kick off from a longer distance, which adds more of a risk/reward element.
But see? The further you dive into rules-tinkering, the more unintended consequences are exposed, that could in fact make the game worse. (The kickoff rule, for instance, actually ended up encouraging more kick returns.) There are good reasons to try to change the game, including player safety. Kicker appeasement probably isn’t one of those reasons.
Tucker should stick to kicking, at which he’s quite good. And post-game comedy, which…well, he’s better at kicking.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.