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Why Is There An Extra Point In Football, And Do We Need It?

Kicker Chandler Catanzaro of the Arizona Cardinals kicks an extra point against the Kansas City Chiefs during a pre-season NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Aug. 15 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen
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Kicker Chandler Catanzaro of the Arizona Cardinals kicks an extra point against the Kansas City Chiefs during a pre-season NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Aug. 15 in Glendale, Ariz.

On Wednesday, in honor of footballs that are inflated, we must discuss extra points. The NFL is monkeying around with the extra point again. You think it should? Do you have a better idea? Do we even need an extra point? Why do we have an extra point?

Well, the extra point is vestigial, a leftover from the good old 19th century days when football had identity problems and couldn't decide whether or not it was rugby. Or something. At that point, in fact, what was sort of the extra point counted more than the touchdown itself.

But when we leave the 19th century, we find that kicking the extra point has been an absolute piece of cake for many decades now.

Earn some extra points and click on the audio to hear Frank Deford's take on this issue.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Deford
Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.