It's Over(time)!: Why The NFL May Reconsider Its Overtime Rules

Vincent JacksonCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2009

When San Diego's Darren Sproles crossed the goal-line to win the AFC Wild Card Game against the Indianapolis Colts in overtime, it got me thinking: Should the NFL adapt college football's brand of overtime?

San Diego took the coin toss (and the ball) and drove straight down the field.  Peyton Manning and the Colts never got another chance.

Now I know there are people that are completely opposed to the way it's done in the college game and would rather keep the status quo.  I've even read articles where people would prefer ties and get rid of overtime period.  I've also read pieces advocating that the college rules provide more excitement and keep the game going.

College football's overtime system, which begins each possession at the opposing 25-yard line, with the first team to have a lead after a pair of possessions declared the winner, is a crock, a bastardization of real football, a victory for the everybody-gets-a-trophy culture that says fans can't be satisfied with a deliciously, tantalizingly frustrating tie because they paid their money and they must be granted closure, given a winner and a loser, even if that means subverting the very integrity of the game.

Some love this idea, some loathe at it.  A recent USA Today poll said that 60 percent of fans favor changing the NFL overtime rules to allow both teams a chance at the ball.

The argument for a change in overtime in the NFL comes from how it starts and, for many, how it ends: the coin toss.   About one in four overtime games ends with the losing team having had no chance on offense. The team that wins the overtime toss wins the game only a little more than half the time, according to NFL figures.

The argument against the change is that the game will go too long and given the time of year the NFL is played in and given the talent level of the players, standing in the cold, rain or even snow for an extended period of time will frustrate even the most die-hard of fans.  They also argue that an offensive-minded teams' gaudy statistics will become distorted.

For example, Arkansas defeated Mississippi, 58-56, in seven overtimes in 2002. Eli Manning threw five touchdown passes in overtime, even though the game was tied at 17 heading into the extra frames.

Opponents and proponents for an NFL adoption have been debating for years since college football developed its current overtime system back in 1996. 

The flaw in the college overtime rules is that a team can kick a field goal without having made a first down.  The flaw in the NFL's policy is that we get no clear-cut winner at the end of one overtime period during the regular season (leading to rare but recent ties in 2002 and 2008), however the policy changes in the playoffs.

We all have an input on this issue and no doubt that Jeff Fisher and the Competition Committee will take a closer look at it this offseason. 

I wanna know what you guys think; should the NFL keep its overtime policy? Or, should we dump the current system and adopt the collegiate version?