goal [gohl] –noun
the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end
post (pōst) -noun
a long piece of wood or other material set upright into the ground to serve as a marker or support
The football is the dynamic element throughout a kick, passing from the long snapper's hands to the holder's hands to the the kicker's foot and then traveling through the air. At the end of its flight are the static goal posts - a sometimes daunting target of fixed size (despite what perceptions may suggest). While kickers' success rates do not directly alter the size of a goal post, they do factor into the history of changes in the locations of the posts.
1933 Goal posts were moved from the end lines to the goal lines in an effort to increase scoring.
1966 Goal posts offset from the goal line, painted bright yellow, and with uprights 20 feet above the crossbar were made standard in the NFL.
1967 "sling-shot" goal posts (with one curved support from the ground) were made standard in the NFL.
1974 The goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines and the uprights would be extended to 30 feet above the crossbar in an effort to decrease the number of field goals.
2005 The NFL granted a special exception to New Orleans for the year, allowing them to use offset goalposts in addition to the league standard slingshot goalposts… this was necessitated when they had to play some of their home games at LSU following Hurricane Katrina.
2008 Field goal attempts that bounce off the goal post became reviewable under instant replay (courtesy of the previous season’s game tying FG by Phil Dawson for Cleveland against Baltimore).
Of those changes, the sling-shot design was probably the the most significant. Since the ancient Chinese had first used two bamboo poles in their game of Tsu Chu (or Cuju), goal post design remained essentially unchanged for 4000 years - two posts with either netting or a cross bar strung between them, depending on one's game of choice. That finally changed after Joel Rottman was contemplating his silverware:
"I was having lunch eating a steak in the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal with then Alouettes coach Jim Trimble and Jack Rabinovich, who originated skateboards in Canada.They were talking skateboards, and I was mad I couldn't get a word in about the football team. I had a fork in my hand, turned to Jim, and said, 'Did you ever hear of a one-legged goal post?' He said, 'Are you crazy?' ''
After having developed a prototype successfully utilized in the Orange Bowl, Rottman proceeded to sell his invention the the NFL:
"There was a fellow in the lobby with these orange pylons, but [commissioner Pete] Rozelle wanted to see the goal-post guy first. He said, 'Oh, God, we've had a committee working on this thing for three years and want to put it back from the goal line to the end line. You show me a picture with 20-foot uprights instead of 10 and I'll give you a list of all the owner's names.' ''