NFL Overtime Rules by Ezekiel Akwei
What’s all this fuss about changing the overtime rules in the NFL? I think they are fine as they are. In the days following the NFC championship game between the Saints and the Vikings I’ve heard so many people talk about how unfair it is that only 1 possession can decide the outcome of a game. Not since last year when Peyton Manning lost in Overtime to the Chargers in the wild card game have they talked this much about changing the rules of overtime. Coincidence? Not really. Most notably, Peter King has talked about it, Gregg Doyel has talked about it, and many others have too. Their biggest gripe being that each team should have at least one shot to score in overtime. Let’s think about for a little while, shall we?
I’m sure that the overtime in the NFL debate has raged on for many years (rolls eyes), but it seems that in the past few years it’s been a huge deal to some of these writers. I believe it’s because it’s happening to some of their favorite stars (namely quarterbacks).
Nobody talks about it when it happens to anyone else. It was so unfair that Peyton Manning didn’t have a chance in the 2008-2009 playoffs to drive his team down the field to try and beat the Chargers. It’s so unfair that Lord Favre didn’t have a chance to drive his team down the field in the 2009-2010 playoffs against the Saints. Well folks, I have news for you, they had a chance to win the games, IN REGULATION! It’s not called sudden death overtime for nothing. It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s supposed to be random, virtually decided by the flip of a coin and whoever wants the game more.
Not many teams have the balls to kick the ball when they win the coin toss in overtime and rely on their defense to stop the other team and give them potentially good field position. They know the importance of it, and frankly I haven’t heard Manning, Favre or any other high profile athlete complain about the overtime system. Only Donovan McNabb said something about the overtime rules, and it wasn’t a complaint, just his lack of knowledge that it was sudden death. We all had a good laugh about it. My point is that when it happens to the athletes that some of these writers seem to get on their knees and bow down to (or perform other acts requiring being on one’s knees) the writers cry foul, and the fans long for the NFL to copy the overtime rules of college football. Well, I’m here to say it shouldn’t happen. If you manage to get to overtime due to your inability to put a team away when you’re supposed to, then it’s your problem. The college system is for amateurs, the NFL game is already long enough. The average NFL kicker can nail field goals from most of the starting positions that the college kids get in overtime. What’s the fun in watching a field goal fest? I’m sure any team that has come back from behind, forced overtime, and won in sudden death isn’t complaining. They took advantage of the other team’s inability to stop them.
Peyton Manning and Brett Favre would certainly have loved to have a chance to be on the field in overtime, but they knew the rules, and they knew the stakes involved. They didn’t whine about it when it happened to them. I’m sure that is why Peyton Manning made sure his team beat the Ravens and the Jets in regulation this time. He didn’t want to have to relive the Charger’s game. He didn’t want that disappointment again. Losing in overtime like that must hurt, but each player knows they had 60 minutes prior to that to win the game. In my opinion, if you don’t want sudden death overtime then follow the same overtime rules that basketball uses and play the extra period out completely. Whoever is ahead when the clock winds down, wins. Still tied? Do it again and again until someone takes the lead for good. That’s that, no tears, no reporters whining about how unfair it is that one of their golden boys had to sit on the sidelines and watch their team lose because they didn’t win a coin toss. The worst part of their whining about the overtime rules is that nobody has a good way to play out overtime short of saying that each team’s offense should touch the ball. Have they forgotten that 60 minutes of football time = 180 minutes of real life? How many more commercials do they want to subject us to? They whine about players getting injured while playing meaningless preseason games, but they’d love to risk more injury to players who are already exhausted from playing an entire game already. Makes plenty of sense right? Do you think they would have cried for overtime changes if Big Ben, or McNabb, or Joe Flacco, or Matt Hasselbeck, or any other non golden boy status having QB lost a playoff game because of overtime? I don’t think so, not national media anyway. Where was the outrage when Aaron Rodgers lost in overtime? His team had the ball, and the Cardinal’s defense did their job and forced a turnover and eventually won the game IN OVERTIME!
This overtime whining is just that; whining by fan writers whose heroes came up short. Well, get used to it, football isn’t always fair. Refs can influence a game, injuries can influence a game, weather can influence a game, and yes, a coin toss can also influence a game. There are 60 minutes for a team’s defense to prevent the other team from scoring. There are 60 minutes for a team’s offense to score more points than their opponents. If they don’t get it done, then they are down to possibly just 1 chance left and whoever gets the luck of the flip usually takes full advantage.