Gould disapproves of XP experiment

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould disagrees with the NFL’s decision to move extra-point attempts back to the 20-yard line in the first weeks of the 2014 preseason.

Last week at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. league owners agreed to a two-game experiment in the first two weeks of the preseason to increase the distance of extra points to the equivalent of a 38-yard field. The league will consider a proposal to permanently push all extra-points back to the 25-yard line at a later date.

The extra point is currently snapped from the two-yard line and is the equivalent of a 20-yard field goal.

“I’m not in favor of the extra point being moved back to the 20-yard line, Gould said Tuesday. “First of all, there are a lot of safety issues. The NFL changed the rules based on people coming off the edge really hard to dive at a kicker’s leg. You’ve moved a guy off the center to protect his spine and I think that’s a fantastic idea. Moving the extra point back to the 20-yard line, that essentially gives every single person now a green light to rush. That means it puts every blocker at risk because there is no risk of a fake.”

Gould, the third most accurate kicker in NFL history, feels the NFL is penalizing kickers for being successful. Gould connected on 45-of-46 extra point attempts last season, and is 323-of-325 (99.4 percent) over his nine-year Bears’ career. He signed a four-year contract extension in late-December worth $17,930,425 with $8.85 million in guarantees.

“Because Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and these guys have become so good at passing the football and going over 5,000 yards per season, are you going to get rid of play action passing?” Gould said. “A linebacker or a defense is so good at blitzing, are you going to get rid of that? No, you’re going to embrace it. The NFL has made our position become so good because the competition is so thick, if you fail to perform; they’ll cut you right away and get somebody else regardless of your salary because kicker’s salaries usually don’t mean a ton in regards to the salary cap.

Instead of embracing how good the position has become like they for other positions, they’re actually trying to diminish what that position has become and completely overhaul it.”

The former All-Pro kicker is also concerned about how lengthening the distance of extra points will affect the legacies of NFL kickers. Gould is the Bears all-time leader in 100-plus point seasons (seven) and single-season field goal percentage (26-of-29, 89.7 percent in 2008 and 2013), while ranking second behind Kevin Butler in points (1,025), field goals made (234) and extra points (323).

“How can you compare kickers?” Gould said. “How are you going to compare Kevin Butler to Bob Thomas? How are you going to compare Bob Thomas versus Robbie Gould? Or Morten Andersen versus Robbie Gould? If these rules changes become permanent you’ll never be able to compare kickers like you do quarterbacks because it’s never going to be the same anymore. It changes the entire integrity of the game.”

However, Gould believes the NFL was correct when the league owners voted to lengthen the height of the goal posts from 30 to 35 feet.

“Now, the new rules change in regards the uprights is an awesome, awesome rule,” Gould said. "If I told you to lie down and I threw a ball across your face and told you to tell me when you see it, realistically, you’re probably not going to see it. Same thing with the officials with where the NFL has them stand.

So what they’re going to do is take the official out of the play and remove all doubt. I love it. You’re going to know for sure if a kicker made it because the uprights are going to be long enough where most kickers are not going to be able to kick the ball over the uprights, especially when you’re talking about mid-range to longer field goals.”