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Union contends new OT system must be collectively bargained

UPDATED (12:07 p.m.)...

ORLANDO, Fla.--The NFL Players Association contends that it should have a say about the new overtime format for postseason games approved by the league Tuesday.

George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director of external affairs, said the union believes that the new overtime system must be collectively bargained with the players.

Atallah declined further comment.

The league disputed the union's contention.

"The rule change does not have to be collectively bargained," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

According to the league, its obligation to the union under the collective bargaining agreement was to discuss the issue with the players and get their input.

"We did that," Goodell said. "At the end of the day, just like with the coaches [some of whom objected to the process by which the new overtime format was approved], the ownership has to make the decision."

It's not clear how the dispute would be resolved if the union presses the issue. The union perhaps could file a case with Stephen Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor who serves as the NFL's special master, putting him in charge of resolving disputes between the franchise owners and the union arising from their collective bargaining agreement.

The owners voted, 28-4, here Tuesday to approve the new system, which had been recommended by the NFL's rule-making competition committee. The owners approved the new overtime format for postseason games only, but left open the possibility of using the new system in regular season games at some point. That issue is to be revisited at an owners' meeting scheduled for May in Dallas, or next year.

The players expressed the view that the overtime system should not be changed when players and union representatives met with members of the competition committee last month at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The new overtime system eliminates the possibility of a team winning a postseason game with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.

Competition committee members have said they didn't propose the new system for regular season games in part because of wariness that the possibility of longer games would increase the risk of injuries being suffered by players.

The owners' vote to approve the new overtime system comes with them in the process of attempting to negotiate a new labor deal with the union. There has been little apparent progress in the bargaining and the sport has entered a year without a salary cap. Union leaders have said they expect the owners to lock out the players in 2011.

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.

By Mark Maske  |  March 24, 2010; 9:17 AM ET  | Category:  League , Union Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Use the College Format for OT, its fair, its far more exciting and it requires a more complete game plan.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 24, 2010 1:17 PM

The problem is, it decides a football game using something that isn't football. There are three aspects of every football game: offense, defense and special teams. The CFL rule and the college rule completely remove the special teams aspect from their overtimes. In real football, you don't just take over the ball on your opposition's 25, or 35 yard line. You have to kick off, or receive the kick off, and march down the field into scoring territory. That should remain the same in OT.

Posted by: rbpalmer | March 24, 2010 5:12 PM

Why not just eliminate overtime? If you can't get it together in regulation...tough cookies.

That would make the regular season games easier to format (and therefore sell ads for) for programming purposes, and keeps incentive for teams to play hard during regulation at a premium level.

Unless you eliminate TIES, there's really no need for OT in the regular season anyway.

Leave OT, in whatever form, for the playoffs only.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | March 24, 2010 2:58 PM

The CFL (Canadian Football League because you probably don't know what it means) has it down. It's overtimes are fast, exciting and fair. Superior in every way to the NFL rule and the propsed one. Here it is

In the CFL, if the game is tied at the end of regulation play, then each team is given an equal number of chances to break the tie. A coin toss is held to determine which team will take possession first; the first team scrimmages the ball at the opponent's 35-yard line and advances through a series of downs until it scores or loses possession. The other team then scrimmages the ball at the same 35-yard line and has the same opportunity to score. After the teams have completed their possessions, if one team is ahead, then it is declared the winner; otherwise, the two teams each get another chance to score, scrimmaging from the other 35-yard line. After this second round, if there is still no winner, during the regular season the game ends as a tie. In a playoff or championship game, the teams continue to attempt to score from alternating 35-yard lines, until one team is leading after both have had an equal number of possessions.

Posted by: nhartvig | March 24, 2010 2:02 PM

There should be a skills competition to determine the winner in OT just like the NHL does. Perhaps a little horse show throwing contest between the QBs?

Posted by: jamalnasir_2000 | March 24, 2010 1:52 PM

So some of the games will be SLIGHTLY longer...and the multimillionaire players are going to complain about it.

Posted by: wolfcastle | March 24, 2010 1:50 PM

Why not use some type of scrum to start overtime? Players line up alternating by team. The ref throws the ball (kind of like a hockey puck drop) into the middle of this mess and waits to see who comes out with the ball.

Posted by: rlampe | March 24, 2010 1:40 PM

The players union wants a vote on this minimal change? They should be spending that money on retirees/disabled. Maybe the union wants time and a half for OT?

Posted by: shhhhh | March 24, 2010 1:27 PM

Why ban the FG on first possession only? Why not ban it entirely in OT playoff games? In good close games with top caliber teams, moving the ball down the field to score a touchdown should not be a problem.

Besides, changing the rules for one series is very inelegant! Would it hurt the game to do away with field goals altogether? Have one guy on the roster to punt AND kick-off? Make all extra points run or pass it in?

Posted by: walden1 | March 24, 2010 1:20 PM

Use the College Format for OT, its fair, its far more exciting and it requires a more complete game plan.
Sudden Death is a joke, even in the regular season. When you have two high scoring teams, a coin flip decides the game.
As for the Players, they are paid to win, not for 60 minutes of work. If the starters can not play through the OT, then the back-ups play, and on the next contract deal, salaries can be adjusted.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 24, 2010 1:17 PM

I'm sorry, I-270, but i think there is a flaw in your argument re: Drama. You are 100% right that some non-OT games have more drama than others and it doesn't matter when the final points were scored.

That being said, pretty much every overtime game has tremendous drama and up until today, the final play of overtime has been a score, ending the game (assuming it doesn't end in a tie). That is tremendously dramatic. Changing to a full period of overtime would almost always eliminate that aspect unless it was a last second score.

Yes, the new format does allow for a non-score finale (assume FG on the first drive and then no score on the second drive) but that would be TREMENDOUSLY dramatic 2nd drive as everyone knows that they HAVE to score to win/keep the game going.

i think the new format will only add to the drama. Switching to a full period would be awful.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | March 24, 2010 12:58 PM

Do away with OT kick off

drop ball from sky and allow scrum.

Posted by: billakins | March 24, 2010 12:57 PM

Why tinker around the edges? Change the rules on team size to no more than 20 players. The team on the field must play offense, defense, including kick-off, field goal and extra point kicks. Any substitutions must be permanent. Fighting will result in immediate ejection. Coaches must not argue with the (maximum 3) officials. The game clock only stops for injury and a ten minute half time. These changes would make football a sport again. A present it is nothing more than a 3 hour TV commercial designed to enrich the NFL and its owners.

Posted by: dubhlaoich | March 24, 2010 12:53 PM

If injuries in OT are truly a concern (and perhaps they are), why have regular season OT at all? So what if there are a few ties? It might reduce regular season ties anyway if there were no overtime--coaches might go for 2 and the win, or go for it on 4th down if they didn't have the excuse of relying on a random coinflip outcome in OT.

Posted by: ah___ | March 24, 2010 12:33 PM

No, it's worth 3 points. And you win if you stop the other team on defense.

They don't run ads during overtime, at least in the regular season.

Posted by: ah___ | March 24, 2010 12:30 PM

This rule change just makes sense. If a game goes into overtime, it means that the teams are evenly matched (at least, on that particular day). Why give one of those evenly matched teams an advantage based on a completely random event?

Even better: extend the rule to the regular season, and extend the rule to include first-possession touchdowns. And tell the NFLPA to shut the heck up. When you make multi-millions playing a game for a living, you owe it to the fans to work an extra 5 minutes once or twice a season in order to have the game's outcome be determined fairly -- not randomly -- all the way to the end.

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Posted by: linjian76 | March 24, 2010 12:24 PM

How about allowing each team four plays to score from the 20. If they are still tied after the first round, do it again.

Posted by: david6 | March 24, 2010 12:19 PM

What's the definition of a possession? Is the receiving team of a kickoff deemed to have had a possession even if they never touch the ball?

Posted by: posttoastie1 | March 24, 2010 11:47 AM

I'd like to see the players get paid for winning football games instead of just salaries. That would make things interesting. Not that the union would want it since they like guarantees and hate incentives. But a situation where players (and coaches) made a ton for winning and very little for losing would make the "team" concept acceptable. Or we could just dumb down more and have a coin toss determine the winner in OT and not play at all.

Posted by: barnguy | March 24, 2010 11:46 AM

I take your arguments (I was going to write "points"). The OG FG is not worth 0 pts, but it's also not worth 3 pts because conditions have to be met, i/e it's effectively worth 0 if the other team kicks a FG. Maybe the rule should be that each team must have one possession. I'll leave it to NFL rules committee to turn that sentence in to six pages.

I don't buy the drama argument. Some games are dramatic in regulation time and some are not. Lots of games are not dramatic because the winning points are scored in the 2nd or 3rd quarter (sometimes even the 1st), making the 4th Q superfluous.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 24, 2010 11:11 AM

Gamecock: as I said before, if Team A scores a FG on the opening drive, they must kick off to Team B and 1 of 3 things will happen when Team B has the ball.

1) Score a TD, and Team B wins.
2) Score a FG, and the game continues with it being total sudden death.
3) Not score at all and Team A wins.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | March 24, 2010 11:05 AM

Problem solved if you just drop the field goal requirement. If the first team to get the ball scores ANY points, the other team gets one possession to try to tie or win. If they fail, they lose. If they score more, they win. If they tie, sudden death from that point on. Fair, simple, short.

Posted by: wmav04 | March 24, 2010 10:58 AM

What happens if team A gets a field goal and team B gets nothing? Does Team A then win?

Posted by: gamecock1 | March 24, 2010 10:54 AM

and one more thing...it's only a matter of time when a team gets the opening kick in OT, drives down inside the 5 yard line, has 4th & goal or 4th & 1 and is forced with this dilemma. Do I:

1) kick the gimme field goal, but give Team B the ball with a chance to tie/beat me?

or

2) Go for the first down/touchdown with a chance to ice the game with 6 points.

that will be a great experiment to watch. and it will happen. The Saints beat the Redskins this year in OT. I don't think it was the 1st possession in OT (so it would be moot) but they got down inside the 2 yard line and had to "Settle" for a game winning field goal. under the new rules, they might have gone for it.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | March 24, 2010 10:46 AM

to those suggesting just playing a period, that is a horrible idea. you would have effectively ended the drama of a game ending on a significant play. a thrilling overtime game ending on a fizzled end of a 5th period is a horrendous idea. Soccer suffers from the same problem. Extra Time should be sudden death in any sport that has limited scoring. Obviously Basketball would not require sudden death.

to I-270, no a 1st possession FG is not worth 0 points. It's worth 3. if Team A gets the opening OT kick, comes down and kicks a FG, they get 3 points. the key is that Team B gets a chance to have the ball as well.

1) Score a TD, and Team B wins.
2) Score a FG, and the game continues with it being total sudden death.
3) Not score at all and Team A wins.

the way the rule was worded is a bit odd, however. As absurd as it sounds, if Team A gets the ball but fumbles through their own endzone, or in any way gives up a safety, the game should end. According to how the rule is written, i'm not so sure. obviously they'd want the game to be over in that situation. i just think the choice of language was odd.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | March 24, 2010 10:42 AM

This type of thing is why the union is going to be busted by the owners. Good for them. These babies who get paid millions to play a boys game are out of control. If you don't like it, earn a living like the rest of us.

Posted by: KDSmallJr | March 24, 2010 10:39 AM

This is a GREAT change. With kickers' range increasing each year, the coin toss is often the most critical part of OT so why not just end it with the toss? The union is being a bunch of whining jerks for opposing the change. They are already paid a huge salary and this minor change would benefit the fans. The NFLPA is hurting the fans with almost nearly every move they make. Grow up and support the fans for a change.
Extend it to the regular season.

Posted by: pjohn2 | March 24, 2010 10:37 AM

So what exactly is the "new overtime system" that has been decided upon? I don't see any proposals.

Posted by: DrFish | March 24, 2010 10:36 AM

1st possession field goal still counts as 3 points, but the other team then gets a possession of their own. If, however, the team winning the coin toss scores a touchdown on the opening possession, then the game ends.

Posted by: fstallone | March 24, 2010 10:12 AM

So a 1st possession FG is worth 0 pts? Stupid owners. Isn't this about money - the longer OT goes, the more ad time they can sell? Why not just play a 10 minute period and scrap the sudden death?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 24, 2010 10:02 AM

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