- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns kicker Phil Dawson stood in front of his locker and lectured like a calculus professor at Harvard.

Breaking down the various elements needed to make a field goal _ angle, speed, trajectory, and the probability of an oblong football sailing through tricky winds and between stationary uprights _ Dawson caught the attention of linebacker Scott Fujita, his well-read teammate who earned two degrees at Cal-Berkeley.

John Nash, everyone,” Fujita said with a laugh and comparing Dawson to the famed mathematician and subject of the film “A Beautiful Mind.”

Well, Dawson’s IQ isn’t quite at genius level, and he’ll never replicate Nash’s work on game theory, but he does have vast knowledge on kicking field goals.

Lately, he’s learned how difficult they can be to judge.

Because for all the technological advancements that have made NFL games safer and more enjoyable: from improved helmets to the computer-generated yellow line that allows TV viewers to see if it’s a first down and instant-replay systems designed to ensure officials make calls correctly, ruling on field goals remains an inexact science.

In fact, there’s no more science behind it at all than two sets of human eyes under the goalpost _ and they can be fooled.

“It’s a rough spot for officials, to stand under the goalposts, look straight up and discern if any part of a ball is outside the uprights,” Dawson said. “I know it’s not easy.”

And it’s not the kicks that miss by a few feet, or even inches, that are difficult to assess. It’s the ones that fly directly above the 30-foot-high uprights that are trickiest and a few recent ones have caused a small outcry _ mostly by kickers, the game’s most exacting players _ for the league to adopt a better way to rule on field goals.

“There’s a lot of confusion and it just seems like there’s technology out there that would make it a lot easier,” said Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, who recalled kicks at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field being blown around so much that no one on the field could tell if they were good..

Ask any kicker and he’ll suggest a remedy for the problem: Raise the uprights. Mount cameras on the crossbar. Implant a computer chip inside the ball. Shoot lasers above the uprights. Add another official designated for field goals.

Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith said he’s tried to address the issue with the NFL office for years. Smith feels he has a solution _ or two.

“Why don’t you do it like tennis?” Smith said. “Why don’t you laser it? Or extend them? It’s ridiculous they don’t do that. Do it like tennis with the laser in there. Is it good or is it not? Check it and go. We’d do it with the replay machine. It would be easy. Let’s just be fair. It’s easy.”

League spokesman Greg Aiello said the current system is sound, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be improved.

“We have one official under each upright with the perfect view for judging field goals and their calls on field goals have not been much of an issue historically,” Aiello said. “But the Competition Committee always looks for ways to improve the game so we would not rule out anything.”

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