Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf cast one of the four “no” votes on the proposal to modify overtime for the playoffs. In footage from the league meetings that aired today on NFL Network, Wilf said he based his “no” vote in part on his appreciation for the 1958 NFL Championship Game — making an argument that, frankly, makes no sense.
“I object and I will be voting against this rules change for the following reasons,” Wilf said. “First, from a consistency standpoint, I think to have one rule for overtime in the regular season and to have a different set of rules for the postseason is totally inconsistent. There are a lot of unintended consequences by using different strategies for practicing during the season and the postseason. So from that standpoint, I think it’s inconsistent.
“Now, I’m one of the newer owners here, but I never thought I was a traditionalist. But I still remember that the Greatest Game Ever Played was a true sudden-death overtime. People remember those sudden-death overtimes.”
Wilf’s invocation of the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” in which the Colts beat the Giants in the first-ever overtime game, flies in the face of his argument against different rules for the regular season and postseason. In 1958, overtime wasn’t used in the regular season; a game tied at the end of the fourth quarter ended as a tie. In 1958, the rules were different in the regular season and the postsason — exactly what Wilf now says he opposes.
Furthermore, Wilf seems to be forgetting that the great ending to the 1958 Greatest Game would not happen under the modern-day sudden-death format. That game ended with a brilliant Colts drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown plunge by Alan Ameche. In the modern-day NFL, teams rarely attempt to score one-yard touchdowns in overtime. Once they get into field goal range, they send in the kicker.
If the 1958 Colts had a modern kicker and used modern strategies, the game wouldn’t have ended with Ameche’s touchdown. It would have ended once the Colts got down to the 20-yard line, with Johnny Unitas taking a knee in the middle of the field on first down and the game-winning field goal on second down.
If you believe the 1958 game truly was the greatest game ever played, you’re suggesting that games are more exciting when they end with touchdowns than with field goals. Yesterday’s vote was a step in that direction.