clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Peter King: Competition Committee will look at overtime rules

About 11 months ago, the Competition Committee said they wouldn't look into the overtime rules. We didn't like it one bit.

Statically, it's not fair. On Friday, Rich McKay said that nearly 50% of the team's that won the coin toss, won the game on their first possession -- forcefully leaving the eventual losers without an offensive opportunity.

The issue isn't that the team that won the coin toss eventually won the game. It's that nearly 50% of the losing teams didn't get that offensive snap. These are Rich McKay's numbers, not mine. They were troubling to him too.

Many have argued that the college system is the best system. However, while it's exciting, it wouldn't fit the networks desire to turn early games over to late afternoon games and afternoon games into primetime television. Furthermore, professional football teams are far superior than their college counterparts and most likely we'd see a series of field goals before one team makes a mistake and allows a touchdown from the opponents 25-yard line. How many overtimes would there be between two NFL teams? 

On the other hand, it was my view that sudden death is hardly a fair system, based on statistical evidence provided by Rich McKay last year.

Q.  Rich, you talked a minute ago about overtime and there's nothing you're going to be in a position to propose this year.  Do you have the statistics on 2008, how many teams won the coin toss ended up winning the overtime game on that first possession?

RICH McKAY:  I do have those.  We talked long and hard about them.  In fact we put them in our survey and we talked to the players about them.  I think everybody is still comfortable with the system.  Let me give you what I have.

The team that won the coin toss won 63 percent of the games

Q.  On the first possession?

RICH McKAY:  No, they won 43.4 percent on the first possession.

Q.  And then you said 63 total?

RICH McKAY:  That's correct, 63.3 percent of the games they won, and they won 43.4 of them on the first possession.

Q.  Before I let you guys go, are those numbers at all troubling to you guys that they're so high, particularly 43 percent on the first possession?

RICH McKAY:  I'll speak for myself personally.  They are troubling to me personally in the sense that I would like to see a game that you would think was "more balanced", but I will say that when you talk to the membership and you talk to the players, I think they're comfortable with the fact that they had a chance to play defense, the game is decided in sudden death.  There is a sense they like the system and the excitement that the system brings, and there's not a real complaint by them that, oh, well, we're not getting a chance to match.  Because in their feeling, and they're very clear about it, hey, we could have helped ourselves, all we had to do was stop them.

I sense more concern, and I've had some, but I've sensed more concern with the media about it probably than they do, meaning the players, the coaches, the members of the league.  It's been something that we didn't end up with any proposal this year.

Of the teams that won the coin flip, 43% scored on their first possession. Yikes. And yes, part of winning football is a defense that prevents a team from scoring. But even the best defense bends by a picky refereeing crew that calls a 50-yard penalty from incidental contact which can't be rectified if the penalty leads to a game winning field goal.

Middle ground had to be found.

We wrote at the time a possible solution: give both teams at least one handle. After that, no holds barred.

The solution is simple. Once both teams have at least one handle of the football, either an offensive snap, or on a kick (punt, kickoff) return, then the game goes into sudden death. All regulation rules apply. If 56.6% of the game's that went into overtime in 2008 allowed both teams an equal shake, then where's the problem? How does it hurt the league, or anyone else for that matter, if the other 43.4% are allowed to respond? If a third possession is required, then it's required. They'd still be as decisive and dramatic. Make it about the health of the sport by completing games fully, and fairly so the games are won on the field, not the probability of a coin flip. Don't do it because you want it to be quicker, or decisive, or dramatic. That's just irresponsible for an owner to say.

So Saturday's shocking news that the league will look at overtime during this year's NFL meetings in March, blows me away. PFT adds:

Here's how the proposal will look, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

"Both teams would be guaranteed a possession unless first team with the ball scores a touchdown," Aiello tweeted.

"If the first team to get the ball kicks a field goal, the other team gets the ball. If it doesn't score, the game is over. If the second team with the ball ties it with a field goal, the game continues until someone scores."

So the proposal won't be the first team to score six points wins, as we initially thought. You can win on a field goal if you prevent the other team for scoring.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I love it. Each team gets a possession, provided the first team that wins the coin flip and receives the football doesn't score a touchdown. Finally, common sense prevails.