Coaches criticize owners' OT vote
UPDATED (1:31 p.m.)...
ORLANDO, Fla.--Several coaches were critical of the process by which the league's franchise owners voted Tuesday to change the sport's overtime format in postseason games.
The vote was taken Tuesday afternoon, a day sooner than originally expected, with the coaches not present.
"It's always interesting," New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday at the NFC coaches' breakfast at the annual league meeting. "Typically there's been a good process.... There's a Wednesday vote. There's a Tuesday discussion. There's a Monday informational, regardless of who's for it, who's against it. That [vote] kind of got slipped in the back door. That's a taste you have in your mouth that's bitter. I'm against it. I hate the policy. I don't want to have to explain this. My sister is just getting to understand the [instant replay] challenge system."
Many coaches were on a golf outing when the owners voted, 28-4, to ratify the overtime proposal made by the NFL's competition committee.
"That's how it was done," Payton said. "It was a little surprising to everyone. We had just had lunch with Arnold Palmer and were coming back to the building. The system we have, with the number of votes required, is healthy. It just caught a lot of people off guard, the way it was done, which tells me there was not a lot of confidence it would get done if it was done on the normal itinerary. That's interesting."
Minnesota Vikings Coach Brad Childress said at the coaches' breakfast: "With the seven or eight guys I was playing golf with yesterday, I would characterize it as surprised, to get e-mails and texts saying the vote was done. We thought we would come back to talk about it more today. The word transparency comes to mind."
The Vikings were one of the four teams to vote against the measure, even though they lost the NFC title game to the Saints on a field goal on the opening possession of overtime. The new system eliminates the possibility of a team winning a postseason game with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
"I didn't think it would go in a different direction, necessarily," Childress said Wednesday. "It's just the process, that's all."
The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills also voted against the proposal.
The measure needed 24 votes among the 32 teams to be ratified.
Not all coaches expressed objections to the voting process.
"I think there was a lot of discussion about the rule," Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday. "I knew there was a consensus that this was something that was good for the game. I don't have an issue with it."
According to The Post's Rick Maese, Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan called the new overtime system "a good change."
Shanahan said at the coaches' breakfast: "One thing that you have as a commissioner--and I think you have to do it as a guy in charge--you know how people feel in certain situations about the game. And sometimes as a coach, you're the guy that they probably should talk to at the end of the conversation and not at the beginning because coaches, they get so tunneled into their game. They don't like change."
Tennessee Titans Coach Jeff Fisher, the co-chairman of the competition committee, defended the voting process and said his coaching peers had their chances to be heard on the subject during the three-day league meeting.
"We discussed it Sunday evening," Fisher said. "We discussed it Monday morning. Coaches had plenty of opportunities to voice their opinions.... The bottom line is, our owners are going to vote.... It's their call."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed similar sentiments.
"We had a full discussion yesterday morning with the coaches in the room, and the owners heard it," Goodell said. "It's no secret that certain owners may have a different view from their coaches. This might not come as a news flash, but the owners have the vote."
Goodell said the proposal still would have been approved even with the coaches in the room. Goodell said that he and many owners had been told by fans that fans believed the existing overtime rule was unfair.
"The ownership felt that this was good for the game and good for the fans," Goodell said. "... I think it will be received very well by the fans."
Coaches continued to say that they new system will change the strategy of coaching in overtime. A team that has the ball first might keep its offense on the field for a fourth-down gamble rather than attempt a field goal, knowing that its opponent would get the ball after a field goal and have a chance to win with a touchdown.
"On fourth and short, that's going to create a big decision for you," Whisenhunt said.
Under the new system, the team that gets the ball first in overtime can win the game with a touchdown. If that team gets a field goal, the other club gets a possession and can win the game with a touchdown or tie it with a field goal. If it gets a tying field goal, the game is sudden death from there. If neither team scores on its first possession of overtime, the game proceeds on a sudden-death basis.
Competition committee members said they proposed the rule because of a 16-year trend in which the team that got the ball first in overtime had come to win a significantly higher percentage of the games.
Regular season games, at least for now, will continue to be played under the current overtime system, in which a coin flip determines which team gets possession first and the first team to score wins.
The NFL Players Association contends that the new overtime system must be collectively bargained with the union.
March 24, 2010; 8:48 AM ET
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