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NFL Overtime Rule Changed: Good Decision?

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIMarch 23, 2010

Today, the NFL owners met and voted 28-4 in favor of a change to a rule in playoff overtime.

The rule change states that from now on the team who loses the overtime coin flip will be given an opportunity to still win the game, even if the opposing team scores a field goal.   

Some aspects of the old system were kept intact. If both teams manage to score field goals, then the winner will be decided in sudden death, as it was before.

This change, hopefully, will prevent another Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans NFC Championship Game. To remind you of the corrupt overtime system, let’s reminisce about how the fate of the game was decided.

The Saints were fortunate, won the toss, and were never forced to give the Vikings the ball or a mere chance to prove that they were the better team and deserved to go to the Super Bowl.

A 40-yard kickoff return and two defensive penalties later, Garrett Hartley kicked a field goal that sent his franchise to the Super Bowl, putting the Vikings’ magical run to a disheartening and abrupt end.  For any NFL fan, that was definitely not the way to see a great game end.

Interestingly, though, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was one of the four teams to vote against the rule change. "You need consistency of the regular season and the postseason," Wilf said.

This statement, along with many others, leads to the argument of whether or not this is a perfect system.

Some traditionalists argue that this change eliminates the originality and excitement of the game. In my mind, however, these individuals aren’t looking at the big picture and ultimate goal of justice. If you really think about it, this is a change for the better.

ESPN analyst and former NFL DL Mike Golic proposed that overtime be replaced by another, possibly 10-minute, period. This would allow the two teams to battle it off with pure football instead of resorting to newly formulated tricks that cheat the current overtime system. In my opinion, it’s a brilliant idea, and I think the league should definitely consider it.

Whatever happens, though, there is never going to be a flawless system. With today’s voting, however, I think the league took a step in the right direction.

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