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Working for overtime

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  March 24, 2010 09:52 AM

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Can we please stop with the feigned enragement over the NFL's new overtime rules?

OK, yes the matter of the league implementing the rules for only the postseason is beyond stupid, but let's hope that changes in time for the regular season. And maybe there was a little bit of tomfoolery with the owners voting while their coaches were hitting the links. Big deal. While the latter have to deal with the new rules, the former write the checks. As far as the union's insistence that the players sign off on it, the reaction from the owners is probably something between eye-rolling and guffaw.

But the rules themselves are fine.

News flash: The NFL isn't going to put another 10-15 minutes on the clock for an overtime period, not when Morley Safer and Milhouse are waiting to enter your Sunday night living space. Five minutes? That might make more sense, but that still seems to go in line with the root of the problem; the receiving team gains far too much of an advantage for the opposition to overcome.

Personally, I'd just bar kickers from the field altogether in overtime, give teams only two downs a possession, and see how far each quarterback can huck it with only two linemen and one wide receiver at his stead.

The NCAA overtime rules may be gimmicky, but they sure are fun to watch. So, what the NFL has done is a certain version of those rules, where the kicking team has the opportunity to win should the receiving team figure it can take the game on the strength of their kicker's leg from way downtown.

According to a USA Today survey, about 65 percent of those who responded like the changes (though 50 percent believe it should be implemented in the regular season), while only 14 percent liked the game the way it was. (Another 25 percent or so like the college system.)

Will the changes force new approaches? Of course, which is part of what makes all this so fascinating; the intelligent coaches already have the upper hand (Any wonder why Chan Gailey voted no?) Rex Ryan has come out and said he'd consider kicking to start OT, which isn't a bad way to think about it. Stop the offense, gain decent field position, and kick a field goal to win. Bill Belichick would probably approach the overtime period the same way. If it were still 2005 and he still had a defense worth risking it on.

But if indeed these are in place for only the playoffs, and the owners stick with their ridiculous argument that injury is a factor for not having it in the regular season, it will be the dumbest postseason development since making an American League pitcher grab a bat in the World Series. After all, only baseball should force its teams to play under different circumstances than they are normally used to during the most pivotal games of the year.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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