Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saints Nation: The New Overtime Rules Are a Loss for Everyone

I know I'm not the only one that thinks the new overtime rules are a complete farce.

Sean Payton let his feelings be known by putting it pretty simply: "I hate it".

Jonathan Vilma claims the new rules are a slight against his team.

The new rule is extremely confusing for the average football fan, and outright ridiculous for the educated football fan. Forget the fact that the new rules are moronic, the fact that they only apply to the postseason is even more infuriating. That's right, one sudden death period of 15 minutes still applies in the regular season, which means status quo and the absurd possibility that games can still end in a tie. Rest assured, though (sarcasm), once the regular season ends you'll get a whole new set of awful overtime rules. The NFL overtime went from bad to worse. It's sad when you consider that the NBA, NHL, and college football - all considered inferior to the NFL in terms of the entertainment value and product - all completely dwarf the NFL in overtime fairness and excitement. I would argue that sudden death was more exciting than what will now take place. The fact that rules change based on the importance of the game is the most absurd concept in sports of all time. I think it severely damages the league's integrity and it's a tremendous dishonor to the sport. The NFL should be embarrassed, and I know that several people with league ties are.

I'll say it again: getting past the idea that the rule is stupid for one second, they should at least keep the rules the same for regular season vs. postseason. For the sake of fan comprehension and consistency, I'd urge NFL officials to at least consider that. But it goes even deeper, because the rules need a wholesale change.

If you're not familiar with the rules, they are outlined HERE. In short, if you score a touchdown the game is over. If you score a field goal on the opening drive, the other team has a chance to either win with a touchdown, or tie with a field goal - at which point the game goes back to being sudden death. HOWEVER, and this is where it gets tricky, if a team gets stopped on their opening possession and the other team scores a field goal - then the game is over because each team had a shot. Another wrinkle: if a defensive team scores a safety on the opening drive, the game is over. So an opening drive safety can win the game, and an opening drive field goal cannot. Why? Because a safety would turn the ball over to the other team, giving each team a possession. Everybody still with me on this? Yeah, I didn't think so. Honestly, the NFL could have saved everyone a whole lot of time and confusion by just saying "first team to 6 in overtime wins". I realize that's a little different from what they've implemented, and games could theoretically last longer than the way they've designed it, but it's more simple and straight forward.

The bottom line is the new rules are a complete joke, and I'm ashamed for the league as a diehard fan. Why do they keep fighting the reality that college football overtime is so much better than any stupid idea they've come up with and just go ahead and adopt their rules? I've heard a lot of reasons why not: "NFL offenses are more prolific and it would be easier to score, making games longer" - fine, move the ball back from the 25 yard line to make it harder. "TV scheduling makes it difficult" - how can the NFL not dictate to the networks how it's going to be, they boost rating more than ANYTHING and I'm pretty sure college football style overtime would boost them. "Players don't want to risk injury by playing more" - then you're lobbying for no overtime at all, aren't you?

None of those reasons are enough to convince me that the current system, or the recent change, are a better alternative. Not by a long shot.