“This is Your Brain on Sports” is a new podcast from Sports Illustrated in which SI executive editor Jon Wertheim and Tufts University psychology professor Sam Sommers explore the intersection of sports and human nature—what the world of sports has to teach us about who we are, what we care about and the forces that shape our behavior. On this week’s episode, we shine the spotlight on NFL kickers, who have made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the season’s opening month, as botched extra points and other missed kicks have dramatically influenced a few key outcomes. Some have pointed to the NFL’s revamped PAT rule for adding an extra psychological toll to a position that is often viewed as among the most mentally taxing in any sport.
Is there a crisis in the kicking profession? Wertheim and Sommers take a closer look at the numbers from the opening weeks of NFL action and parse the comments of kickers past and present to examine the state of the kicking game and determine which early trends might be here to stay.