The NFL usually does what it wants, and the Competition Committee doesn’t seem to want any tangible advice from those who aren’t actively employed by a football team to do football things about football. Because football. But that’s never stopped me from offering advice on how to make the game of football better, so why start now?
The Chiefs’ proposal to adjust overtime to ensure that both teams get a possession even if the first team to possess the ball scores a touchdown absolutely should be adopted. Two of the last three seasons have seen the Patriots win a coin toss in a championship-level game, drive the length of the field, score a touchdown, and walk off a winner — while the current league MVP (Matt Ryan in 2016 and Patrick Mahomes in 2018) — had to sit and watch it all happen.
The changes to overtime made after the Saints beat the Vikings with a first-possession field goal in overtime of the 2009 NFC Championship amounted a half-measure, a Band-Aid. A partial solution that acknowledges the unfairness of the situation but fails to completely eradicate it.
So eradicate it now. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s the right thing to do. (Also, it gives the many teams who resent the success of the Patriots a way, albeit miniscule, to stick it to them.)
And here’s the other side of the compromise, the one that would help to avoid the dreaded “unintended consequences,” which seems to be code for “we don’t want to do this and we don’t want to tell you why, so we’ll just hide behind a fancy-sounding term”: For the regular season, go back to sudden death.
I never had a problem with sudden death in the regular season. That’s where the “hey if you can’t win in 60 minutes, it’s on you” argument is a lot more persuasive, and where the urgency to get the games over with takes on greater importance, especially if one of the teams in a Sunday game will be playing on the following Thursday.
The change made in 2010 got jammed onto the regular season because coaches wanted to have the exact same rules for the regular season and the postseason. (Apparently, they’ve been getting their information about regular season and postseason overtime from Donovan McNabb.) But there’s no good reason to have the same rules, because the unfairness of sudden death becomes particularly unfair only when a season is on the line.
Sure, the unfairness argument could be made for Week 17 games that have playoff berths hinging on them, but that’s still nothing remotely similar to the idea that a berth in a Super Bowl or a Super Bowl championship can be secured by winning a coin toss and using rules that systematically have been skewed toward offense to drive down the field and score a touchdown.
So there it is. A perfectly fair and appropriate compromise to the overtime conundrum. One that will be summarily ignored.