The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

No drama in OT


Ever wonder how simply horrible movie concepts consistently get green-lit?

On a back lot exists a boardroom full of boat owning execs with multi-flavored lattes musing over whether Brendan Fraser or Keanu would serve as the best slug killer in, you guessed it, The Adventures of Tommy Slugkiller. Clearly, I do wonder about these moments. Moments when millions of dollars and months, often years, of significant work and infrastructure are devoted to glaringly flawed concepts.

With the NFL, on the other hand, I've always thought that some of the shrewdest and best-laid strategies in professional sports have come from their perch above Midtown Manhattan, with one exception: Overtime.

The league's competition committee communes each spring at the annual owners' meetings. In a plush meeting room not too dissimilar from the imagined Hollywood digs, a group of men debate and dissect the rules of the game. And each year from this caucus we are introduced to tweaks, revisions, interpretations and sometimes entirely new rules. Just this year, for example, we were introduced to the Hines Ward Rule, a rule born from Keith Rivers'Kanye West impersonation this past fall, and the Tom Brady Rule, also known as the Robert Kraft is a wildly influential owner rule.

Most rule revisions are well intended to refine the game and protect its valued talent (more specifically, quarterbacks). I'm fine with this; the game must be tweaked and revised as new elements factor in with each new season. While these new augmentations make sense, the league's refusal to modify the overtime process is of the same ilk as the producers of the Tommy Slugkiller franchise (copyright 2009 Blitz Media ©).

The overtime argument has been waged countless times, in boardrooms and bars alike. In my opinion, there is simply too much influence afforded to the OT coin flip. Home games, for example, are seen as a distinct advantage versus playing on the road. Yet only 51% of home teams win overtime games. This is a direct reflection of the rotations of a coin deciding the victor more than any other determinants. If the league spends so much time and effort to produce the best on-field product, then why not tweak a rule that removes drama from what is obviously a dramatic scenario?

Overtime football should be the most riveting example of the NFL product. Two teams have battled for 60 minutes and require more time to name a winner, and yet statistics from 2000-2007 indicate that the winner of the OT coin flip wins 60 percent of the time, with the team on the losing end of the flip not touching the ball on offense at all in 30 percent of OT contests. Point being, if all three units from both teams -- special teams, offense and defense -- are tied after a full game has been played, then how are we satisfied that these same units, the elements that created this battle, are not often represented in the overtime session?

Under their structure the rules make finishes less compelling. If the NFL's greatest asset is their parity and the drama that comes from the weekly wars, then the overtime rules are simply not serving their goals. More often than not, an NFL overtime setting is a race to the first field goal. The game simply isn't played with the same intentions and schemes as in the first 60 minutes.

To wrap it up like a hoagie, I just feel that if each team were afforded one possession before sudden death it would benefit the game and provide a better measure of which team was better that day. If one team hits a field goal, great, the next team must put up 3 points as well or the game is over, or win with a touchdown. If neither team scores on their first possession then sudden death goes into effect.

Traditionalists, or just simply fans of the current rule, may argue that the sudden death element has long been a factor in the league and that the onus is on a team to score first, regardless of the coin flip results. I simply want a more dramatic ending to an obviously close contest. Let's take the anti- out of the climax of NFL overtimes.

By Jim McCormick  |  May 11, 2009; 2:09 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I think the CFL has an excellent system for overtime. Each team gets at least one possession. The team with the 2nd possession must at least match to result of the 1st possession for the game to continue. If they exceed the first teams' result they win. If they fall short, they lose. Matching scores get another round. Simple. Fair

Posted by: stevel1 | May 11, 2009 9:50 PM

Agree 100%. . .this is exactly the fix I have been championing to all of my friends, whenever this debate comes up. This way, no team could argue that they didn't get a chance to win the OT.

Posted by: octopi213 | May 12, 2009 10:07 AM

Dude, I like your style, but I disagree. OT is awesome as is.

Posted by: megahan07 | May 12, 2009 8:22 PM

The NFL should eliminate the overtime cointoss...change the rule so that the home team automatically gets to choose to receive or kickoff. This would make the end of regulation more exciting, road teams might no longer settle for 3 and instead try to score a TD at the end of regulation. The whole randomness of the cointoss is what annoys me.

Posted by: HOOLIE1 | May 20, 2009 1:52 AM

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