How much better can kickers get? For starters, a new longest field goal—the current record of 63 yards was set by stub-footed Tom Dempsey in 1970 and tied by Jason Elam in 1998—is imminent. Coaches are more willing to try from downtown, and more kickers than ever have the leg. Last year the Raiders' 250-pound Sebastian Janikowski pinged the middle of the right upright from 64 yards. Against the Chargers in September he attempted one from 76 yards. "The percentage was low, but it was possible," Janikowski said.
Lousy weather, botched snaps and missed blocks, not to mention plain old shanked kicks, will always stand in the way of perfection. But these days anything seems possible. The Falcons' McKay, who is cochair of the NFL's competition committee, says the league doesn't want to make field goals harder—narrowing the goalposts would be one option—because teams earn the right to points by getting into scoring position. Inevitably, though, the rule makers will again try to thwart the Black Knights. If history is any guide, it'll be just another flesh wound.
Stefan Fatsis is the author of A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-foot-8, 170-pound, 43-year-old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL.
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