Nine years ago, the NFL fixed an inherent unfairness regarding postseason overtime with a half measure that unnecessarily was applied to the regular season as well. Now, the league needs to go the rest of the way and guarantee a possession for both teams, even if the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown.
With the Rams-Saints debacle sucking up most of the officiating oxygen in the aftermath of an historic Championship Sunday, it’s unlikely that media or public opinion will turn to the inequity that the Chiefs experienced when the Patriots called heads, the coin landed that way, the Patriots opted to receive, and the Patriots drove the length of the field and scored the winning touchdown. Indeed, if it didn’t happen after the Patriots did the same thing when winning Super Bowl LI, it’s not going to happen when a victory at one lower level is affected by it.
Meeting with reporters on Monday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid opted not to complain about something he can’t control.
“I’ve sat in on a few of those meetings,” Reid said. “They go back and forth. It’s what the league came up with, and I support it. I sure would’ve liked to have had another crack at it though.”
When asked whether the procedures (which guarantee a possession for the kicking team only after a first-drive field goal) are fundamentally unfair, Reid opted not to take the bait.
“You have to be a good coin-flipper and then you have to get off the field if you don’t have the ball,” Reid said.
He’s technically right, but that doesn’t make it right. Those who defend the current system cry, “Play defense!” But many of those same people routinely bemoan the fact that, in the modern NFL, the deck is stacked in favor of offense.
So why shouldn’t each offense get a crack at the ball? And if there’s a concern that there will be too many plays from scrimmage under that system, why not use the college rule (first and 10 from the 25) or make it simply first and goal from the 10. Or, perhaps better yet, do a hockey shootout-style competition with each team going for two, one at a time, until one team converts and the other doesn’t.
Whatever the system, whichever system the league uses needs to ensure fairness to both teams. When an offense drives the field and scores a touchdown with the other offense not even getting a chance to do the same, that’s simply not fair.