Potential New OT Rules for NFL: What is the Competition Committee Thinking?

Steve PContributor IIMarch 3, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell watches teams warm up prior to the start of Super Bowl XLIV between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Perhaps lost in the avalanche of information from the combine, but certainly diametrically opposed to a statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the subject, came an announcement from the NFL's Competition Committee.

They announced that they were looking into a change in the rules for overtime. Those changes however, will only be in effect for playoff games.

Temporarily overlooking the fact that having two different sets of rules is nonsensical, let's take a look at the proposed changes:

If the winner of the coin flip scores a touchdown the game is over.

If the winner of the coin flip scores a field goal, the opposing team then gets an opportunity to tie or win the game. Should that team also score a field goal, the next team to score then wins the game.

Before I get into any detailed commentary, I have one relevant statistic regarding overtime games to share. In postseason history, the team winning the coin flip at the start of overtime has won thirteen games and lost fourteen games. 

For the record, I am not one of those who feels there needs to be any changes regarding overtime games. I like the "sudden death" rule. I always have and always will. I'll always recall with great fondness being on the edge of my seat on Christmas Day 1971, as the Chiefs and Dolphins played one of the most thrilling games I've ever seen. 

Look, let's be honest. Both teams are probably gassed by the time you get to overtime.  This to me means that the defense is at no unique disadvantage and that if they cannot stop the offense, then by all means, the game should be over. Which is how it is, has been and should continue to be.

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Why the nonsense about the game continuing if the first team with the ball only scores a field goal? I fail to see the logic to it.  It's an inference that if you only screw up a little and allow a field goal, you should get a second chance. The offense still scored, didn't they? There's no difference, as it still amounts to points on the board.

Better yet, under the proposal, if both teams swap field goals, the rules then revert to sudden death. Apparently, once they swap field goals, then the current rules will then apply. All I can do is shake my head in amazement at that one, as I cannot even begin to fathom how that makes any sense at all. Maybe because it doesn't.

I think the best part for me is that Roger Goodell recently announced that he "didn't foresee any changes to the current overtime rules." Perhaps the Competition Committee didn't get that memo. Certainly having the two parties appearing to not be on the same page doesn't look very good. On the other hand, there is a sort of "Marx Brothers" feel to it that is somewhat appealing, not to mention perhaps appropriate as well.

Seriously, can anyone tell me, with a straight face, that it is totally logical to have two different sets of rules for overtime games, one for the regular season and another for the playoffs? Some players seem to have enough difficulty with the current rules and now you want to confuse them further? Mull that one over to see if it makes sense to you. One set of rules for the regular season, then a different set for the post-season.

Yes, I'm aware that the only real change would amount to teams potentially swapping field goals before it reverts to sudden death or the current rules. But I fail to see the point to such a change. 

I find the biggest and best reason not to mess with the overtime rules is the one I briefly mentioned above, that being the won—lost record of teams winning the coin flip in postseason overtime games.

They have actually won less games than the loser of the coin flip. Admittedly, it is only one game fewer, but that demonstrates to me far greater equality in the current rules than one might have expected.

That leads me back to one inescapable conclusion:

It's not broken. Don't fix it.

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