The New NFL Overtime of Second Chances

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The New NFL Overtime of Second Chances
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Don’t worry, National League Football fans.

Even if Brett Favre decides to hang up his cleats immediately before or long after the 2010 season concludes, the legendary antics of No. 4 on and off the field will never be forgotten.

When the oft-described risk taker decided to throw across his body in the final minute of the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints, not only did Favre toss an interception to end the Minnesota Vikings' season one field goal attempt short of a Super Bowl, he also changed the landscape of the NFL for future generations of players and fans.

The Vikings, of course, lost on a 40-yard Garrett Hartley field goal in overtime and shortly after, sports columns and blogs lit up about the unkind regulations of the NFL’s version of extra time.  

As of March 23, league owners decided to allow the team that loses the coin flip to have an opportunity on offense unless a touchdown is scored during the OT’s opening possession. That way, if the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal, the other team gets a chance to tie the game on a kick of its own or win the game with a touchdown.

The Vikings, surprisingly, were only one of four teams that voted against the proposed structure of a new OT, and currently the format only includes postseason games. Surely, the NFL will be working on changing regular season OT rules if not for this season than the next.

Who else but Brett Favre could have tipped the scales of the annual overtime rules debate?

Not Donovan McNabb, who probably is still clueless to the rules of OT, and certainly not Matt Hasselbeck, who proved a team could win a coin flip and then throw the game away on a pick-six just minutes into the extra session.  

So why, when one of the game’s most polarizing figures fails to come through down the stretch, does the NFL finally decide to change its OT rules?

Since kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard line in 1994, the winner of the OT coin flip has won 59.8 percent of the time, not a particularly staggering ratio of deciding a game’s winner. 

Owners and members of the NFL’s rules committee cited improved field goal accuracy for a trend of teams winning the coin toss that go on to win the game. Shame on all the kickers who perform so admirably in the clutch. 

Sorry, Nate Kaeding. This group doesn’t include you.

Maybe the NFL should consider weeding out kickers altogether. Their perceived importance is already at an all-time low, and the new rules are going to lower their status even more. Last time I checked, the the word "foot" is still in "football."

Can you imagine if Brett Favre had an opportunity to one-up Hartley’s field goal in OT? Rest assured, Favre has, and it does not end with a city-wide celebration for New Orleans. 

The Saints, along with a city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, may have never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with a revamped OT. Sports Illustrated's “Dat’s Who” headline may instead have read “Dat’s Favre.”

Do not get me wrong. I know the NFL has been working towards tweaking its OT rules for the past decade.

It was probably only a matter of time before Roger Goodell imposed his will and put another impression into the NFL’s future. After all, there’s not a lot of dog fighting to patrol right now.

To revise the OT rules to an unproven system so abruptly doesn’t seem like the best option, does it? Why not try out the new rules in preseason games for the next two years?

If the new OT rules apply to just postseason games and not the regular season, what is the point? A team will suddenly have to change its strategy come playoff time, different from the way it played all season long.

At least for Brett Favre supporters, an OT where No. 4 always gets at least one shot is a no-brainer.

But for proponents of the classic OT like me, an extra session of almost endless limits and second chances doesn’t seem to fit the bill.

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