For the second Sunday in a row we had a tie game in the NFL on Sunday, when Cincinnati and Washington couldn’t settle things after 75 minutes of play in London. Ties are dumb. Let’s get rid of them.
The NFL is unique among the major American sports in having ties. College football got rid of ties with its new overtime rule in 1996. Baseball and basketball have always kept playing until someone won, and even hockey got rid of ties. Why is the NFL still playing ties when everyone else has figured out that a game is supposed to have a winner and a loser?
After his team tied the Cardinals last week, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson offered a novel idea: Get rid of ties by having one final field goal with the game on the line: Flip a coin, let the winner of the coin flip try a 53-yard field goal. Make the field goal, win the game. Miss the field goal, lose the game.
I don’t like Wilson’s idea, but I do like his way of thinking: We need to get rid of ties, and settle them with something more dramatic. I like what soccer and hockey have done to eliminate ties, by going to a shootout format. The NFL doesn’t have an equivalent of a shootout (and I wouldn’t want to settle a tie with a field goal contest), but I do have my own idea for a shootout-like format to settle ties.
If the game is still tied after overtime, let the teams take turns getting one play to score a touchdown: First the home team’s offense gets the ball for one play at the 1-yard line against the visiting team’s defense. Then the visiting team’s offense gets the ball for one play at the 1-yard line against the home team’s defense. If one offense scores and the other offense doesn’t the team that scores wins. If neither teams score or both teams score, line up and do it again. The game is over when one team scores and the other team doesn’t.
That would be simple, and it would be exciting. And “simple” and “exciting” are two words that seem to be getting lost in the NFL these days, where every rule seems complex and convoluted, and the TV ratings are down as fans complain that the games just aren’t as fun.
Ties aren’t fun. Winning and losing is fun. Give us a winner and a loser in every game, NFL.
Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:
Tom Brady is the best player in the NFL right now. What Brady has done since the end of his four-game Deflategate suspension is nothing short of remarkable. Yesterday against the Bills, Brady completed 22 of 33 passes for 315 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. In four games he has 12 touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Patriots are 4-0. Brady’s passer rating isn’t just the best in the NFL this season, it’s the best in NFL history for a season. He’s off to an incredible start.
Can the Browns go 0-16? I’m not saying that the Browns will go 0-16. But I am saying they’re now halfway there, and yesterday they blew their best chance at winning when they threw away an early lead over the Jets and lost 31-28. The Browns’ remaining schedule isn’t easy. It’s entirely possible that they could join the 2008 Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history.
Joey Bosa is a beast. Bosa, the Chargers’ rookie defensive end, had yet another good game yesterday against the Broncos. He’s been such an outstanding player this year that I believe if he had been healthy and ready to go in Week One, he’d be a strong candidate for defensive player of the year. Not defensive rookie of the year, defensive player of the year. Unfortunately, Bosa and the Chargers engaged in a lengthy contract standoff that led to Bosa missing training camp. When Bosa finally signed, he injured his hamstring, as players coming off a long layoff so often do. Bosa missed the first four weeks of the season, but since then he’s been as good as any defensive player in the NFL.
The Raiders have a keeper in Derek Carr. In Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers, Carr had preposterous numbers: 40-for-59, for 513 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Can you believe it was just a couple years ago that Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel were drafted ahead of Carr?
Darrelle Revis isn’t even trying. Revis, the Jets’ $17 million cornerback, was once among the best players in the NFL. But these days he’s nowhere near that, and yesterday he was absolutely embarrassed: Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor whipped him all day, and at one point in the game Revis could be seen on TV not even trying to make a tackle. That’s an inexcusable lack of effort, whether you’re making $17 million a year or the league minimum.
The NFL should encourage celebrations. I wrote a couple weeks ago that the NFL should let players celebrate touchdowns, and as I watched games all day yesterday, I became convinced that an element of fun is missing from the NFL this year. So not only will I say that the NFL should allow players to celebrate, but I believe the NFL should actively encourage players to celebrate. Tell every player that he’s free to celebrate how he wants, as long as the celebration doesn’t delay the game, doesn’t involve taunting an opponent and doesn’t involve anything violent or sexually suggestive. Then, every week, put videos of the week’s five best celebrations online, let fans vote for the best one, and give a $10,000 donation to a charity of the winning player’s choosing. I’m serious: A celebration after a touchdown is a fun thing. It should be rewarded, not punished. Give me fewer ties and more celebrations.