BOOT THE KICK?
In interleague exhibition games this summer AFL and NFL teams have had to score the extra point after a touchdown by running or passing rather than kicking. The experiment has added a significant measure of excitement. Teams miss the point four out of 10 times, and Kansas City's Hank Stram believes if the run or pass was mandatory in regular-season games, coaches would work out defenses that would probably mean a still greater percentage of failures. In the NFL last season kickers missed the extra point in only 19 of 606 tries.
Reactions to the experiment are widely varied. "I think it's a lousy idea," says Coach Norb Hecker of Atlanta. "I am in favor of abolishing the entire extra-point procedure. But at least the kick gives the weaker team about the same percentage of success as the stronger team." Tom Fears of New Orleans, whose team was beaten by Houston when the Oilers ran in an extra point with less than a minute left, agrees. "The rule would give someone like the Packers an extra advantage," he says. "The more powerful the team, the better chance it has of making two yards."
Understandably, Houston General Manager Don Klosterman sees the run-or-pass situation differently. "When we beat the Saints the crowd cheered the final touchdown much less lustily than the game-winning extra point, which would have been a yawn had it been kicked instead of run in. The fans seem to be all for it."
Don Shula of the Colts thinks the experimental rule makes the field goal too important. "Two field goals can equal a touchdown 50% of the time, and that doesn't seem right to me," he says. And Sid Gillman of San Diego criticizes it because he believes the offensive unit needs a rest, and the run or pass increases the risk of injury.
One of the most interesting, if personal, viewpoints is that of San Diego Quarterback John Hadl. He objects to the possibility of calling a splendid game, yet having people go away saying "that stupid quarterback" because of one crucial extra-point play. "Either take this rule out or pay us more money," he concludes.
SECRET OF SUCCESS?
Horseplayers who have been losing money might give prayerful consideration to a letter from a rabbi that was published recently in The Blood-Horse, a racing journal. Rabbi Tzvi H. Porath of Chevy Chase, Md. tells of the discovery of a fragment of Sefer Harazin (The Book of Secrets), which was written in the second century and lost after the eighth century. The author of the book wrote a special prayer for horses competing in chariot races, which reads: "I entreat you, the angels who run between the stars, that you give strength and force to the horses in this race and to their driver that makes them run, that they shall not be tired and they shall not stumble and they shall run easily, and no beast shall defeat them, and no charm nor magic shall work against them."
One questions the prayer's efficacy, though. If it had been any good, it seems unlikely it would have been lost.