(Originally Posted: Wednesday January 27, 2010)
I know what all my faithful readers are expecting. A gloating column about how Brett Favre did exactly what I expected and came up so small in the biggest moment of the season. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but this column isn’t about that. This is about the overtime rule. Even if Favre threw the interception that I saw coming a mile away in the most crucial moment of the season. (stop it) Even if he did cost his whole team everything and put another black mark on his already diminishing legacy and overacted with his injuries to try and make himself seem more heroic (STOP!)
Okay, back to my point. We’ve all know forever the NFL’s overtime rule sucks. The NFL has stuck by it after we’ve seen countless games where the team that has won the coin toss takes the ball, return it 25 yards, drive another 35 yards and kick a 40 yard field goal to win the game. According to AddvancedNFLstats.com, between 2000 and 2007, 29.8% of the time team that has won the coin toss has won the game without the other team touching the ball. That doesn’t seem too bad, but when you let that number sink in for a minute, it is.
The NFL’s rationale for the rule is they want to pressure teams to end the game in regulation and they don’t want them “playing for overtime” and then risking a coin flip. Seriously? That sounds like an answer from a politician who’s trying to justify why he’s voting with a lobby who’s given him a bunch of money to vote against sunshine.
So why thank Mr. Favre? The NFL is an old slow moving colossus that only changes when bad things happens to its stars on big stages. The only way the rule was going to change was for the overtime rule to keep Favre, Peyton or Brady on the sideline in either a Championship game or a Super Bowl when everyone was watching. Have you seen the ratings for that game on Sunday? Most watched non-Super Bowl TV show since the Catch. Bigger then any American Idol finale, the Seinfeld finale or the Friends finale. Everyone was watching. This will finally get the NFL to act. Unless of course, we have an unbelievable Super Bowl, and in that case, we will all have forgotten about this game in two weeks. That’s a real possibility too.
So here’s the big question. What’s should the new rule be?
•The college overtime rule. I don’t think so. Is there anything from college football you want to emulate? They can’t even figure out how to crown a champion. Besides, it takes special teams right out of the game and that is a major part of the game.
•Allow both teams to have one possession and then covert to sudden death. This is the idea that most pundits trumpet. Here’s the thing I never understood about that argument from an analytical standpoint. Isn’t that just extending the coin toss? Look at it this way. Team A gets the ball and kicks a FG. Team B gets the ball and kicks a FG. Then we’re in sudden death, and back to the same fundamental problem. Whoever won the toss gets an extra possession the other team doesn’t get. What happens when the team that wins the toss scores a FG on their second possession and the other team doesn’t get to touch the ball again?
•Play out the entire overtime period. I like this rule, and think it’s probably the most fair. The problem is it takes all the excitement out of overtime. After the adrenaline rush at the end of regulation, there’s going to be a major let down in the stadium. The players union will be against it too, because these finely tuned athletes are not prepared to play for 75 minutes. There’s also an issue of more ties at the end of the extra period. Do we go to a 2nd OT in the regular season? How does that play out? I can already hear McNabb’s head exploding trying to figure it out.
•Must score 6 points to win in overtime. This keeps the big return and the short drive and long field goal out of play. You either need 2 field goals to win in overtime, which would require the other team to have possession or you must score a touchdown. This is more contrived than other suggested new rules, but it seems like anything that’s going to happen is going to have to be contrived.
•Give the ball to the team with more total offensive yards to start overtime. Again, way too contrived, and football isn’t just about offense. Why not turnover differential? Or most first downs? Or most sacks? Way too arbitrary.
My guess is that if they do anything, they are going to adopt that both teams must have a possession in overtime. I think it’s a mistake. As we discussed earlier, it has the same fundamental flaw as the current overtime rule. In my opinion, the best option on the board would be to go with the score 6 points in overtime rule. It keeps the game in sudden death, keeps the game out of the hands (feet?) of the kickers, and makes it more likely that both teams will have a chance to score.
One last Favre point, because he heard me rolling my eyes during his press conference and I just can’t resist. If you make your decision to retire and stay retired, that’s fine. If you make your decision in the next month or so that your coming back to play in Minnesota, that’s great, and I will wish you all the luck in the world. I’ll actually leave you alone next year. (probably not) But make up your mind and stick to it. That’s what you just don’t get. We would all be fine if your weren’t pulling this retiring-unretiring crap. That’s the problem. You come off like a self centered egotistical child with no regard for your teammates, the fans or the game when you pull this stuff. Be a man. Make a decision and live with it.
So what do you think they should do about the overtime rules? Sound off in the comment section!