Thoughts from around the NFL
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
The dastardly lull that is the NFL off-season is almost over, and with it, the miserable bits and bobs of speculative writing based off of nothing more than statistics and hype. And so we trundle into August, growing ever closer to more meaningful football than third-stringers fighting for spots on special teams.
In an attempt to add some excitement to the most predictable play in football, the NFL is experimenting with moving PATs back from the two-yard line to the 15-yard line. The first two weeks of the pre-season will see teams have the option of choosing to go for two points from the two-yard line or kick the equivalent of a 33-yard field goal for the extra point to spice up the play that was converted 99.6 per cent of the time last season (five misses league-wide). Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker is one of those staunchly against the idea: “I don’t think the game needs to be changed unless there’s a real safety concern. I think people are proposing some of these rule changes just because maybe they don’t have anything better to do.” Hey, Justin, John Carney called; he wants his fear of PATS back.
In addition to the trial of the 33-yard PATS, the league has increased the height of the field goal posts five feet to 35 after issues, namely Tucker’s field goal against the Patriots a few seasons ago, were voiced by concerned parties. The posts now appear comically high and significantly more unstable. So, with added height comes less load-bearing responsibility, and the league has also decreed that dunking in celebration is now a 15-yard penalty. Poor Jimmy Graham.
Not every story has a happy ending, but for former NFL-hopeful Brian Banks, there is one after all. The former high school standout’s NFL dreams were all but dashed when he was falsely accused of rape back in 2002. He served five years in prison, followed by five years of parole before evidence finally surfaced that Banks’ accuser had made the whole thing up. Wanetta Gibson wanted, apparently not very badly though, to help Banks but didn’t want to return the $1.5-million settlement she snagged from the Long Beach Unified school district. Instead, after 10 years of being wrongfully convicted, Gibson was caught on tape by a private investigator and the rest is history. Banks tried to stick with a team, going for a short stint with Atlanta, following his exoneration but his years away from the game turned out to be too much of a mountain to overcome. Though he’s not playing in the NFL, Banks is set to start work for the NFL’s football operations department. Not the career as a player he had dreamed of, but for a man whose life was ruined over a decade ago, things are looking up