Don't call it in the air, NFL

play an overtime that's fair


January 14, 2003|By LAURA VECSEY

HOW CAN THE NFL - the Mother of All Professional Sports Industries, Including Wrestling - allow the toss of a coin to determine the winner of any game, let alone a playoff game?

That's not sudden death. That's unfair.

The NFL should follow college football, where the overtime system gives each team a first down at the opposing 25-yard line, with the first team to have a lead after a pair of possessions declared the winner.

Otherwise, we propose penalty kicks.

U.S. women's World Cup team member Brandi Chastain would get one kick per side.

If the NFL looks into OT policy - and it should before a Super Bowl win is determined by a coin toss - this could go down as a landmark year for sports rules changes.

This month, baseball "commissioner" Bud Selig is going to declare that the league winning the All-Star Game will get home-field advantage in the World Series. Imagine, a Midsummer Classic that means something.

Sorry, kids. No more tie games.

Steel City indigestion: How would you like to face Steelers coach Bill Cowher at the breakfast table the next eight months?

Plea to Pudge Rodriguez: Come to Baltimore. We want you. Stop asking "Why me?" when it comes to lowball offers. It doesn't suit your All-Star persona and only feeds rumors of your cockiness.

You've had a bad back. The Rangers have helped diminish your value, too. The free-agent market is down. But it's not personal.

Start negotiating. Make a counteroffer. Today. Or accept an incentive-laden contract. Tell the Orioles you want a $2.5 million bonus if you make 550 plate appearances and hit 34 homers - then go do it.

The Orioles say they would love to pay you big money - if you can produce. Come show us. You'll be king of Camden Yards.

Jordan Rules, Part 2003: Michael "I'm Done After This Season - For Real" Jordan is third in All-Star voting behind Eastern Conference guards Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson. St. Mike said he won't lobby to play in Atlanta on Feb. 9 if not elected by fans - and he won't catch Iverson without some serious ballot-box stuffing.

Does anyone think NBA commissioner and marketing wizard David Stern won't find a way to twist Jordan's arm about making one last All-Star cameo? Stay tuned.

Question for closet Jets fans: How far into Sunday's disaster against the Raiders before you started calling for Testaverde?

No. 1 Duke at No. 17 Maryland: If the moon and stars align and the Terps execute perfectly, may the undefeated Blue Devils fall hard at Comcast Center on Saturday.

Plea to Gary Carter: Wear the Expos cap in Cooperstown, mais oui?

Blown call club: Next time Cowher wants to go off on the officials, he should consult Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella. Now, there's a man who can argue a blown call.

Iverson a legit Dreamer: Of course, the spider-legged sprout would be an impact player off the bench in Athens - even if the Sixers are in such a downward spiral that Iverson actually uttered the word "practice" the other day. But put Iverson on the Olympic team already. He wants to play.

Here's a condition for Iverson's selection by USA Basketball: He must room with Gary Payton. The Glove can school The Answer on the merits of good citizenship.

Blake/Redman: Our thoughts this winter are with Ravens quarterback Chris Redman, who lost his job to Jeff Blake this season. Redman's recovery from disc surgery will be tricky. It's no fun watching a player's career threatened by this kind of injury, so here's hoping for a Ravens quarterback controversy - for Redman's sake.

M. Lewis to Bengals: Why, Marvin, why? You can do better. At least we'd like to think so, despite NFL owners' track record on minority hiring.

MEAC game to watch for: Feb. 1, 4 p.m. Maryland Eastern Shore at Morgan State. Two of Division I's most downtrodden teams (Nos. 321 and 322, respectively) square off in a battle of the underdogs.

LeBron's big wheel: Reports out of Akron, Ohio, say 18-year- old basketball standout LeBron James is suddenly driving a new Hummer H2. The $49,190 vehicle is allegedly a gift from his mother. This development has prompted state athletic officials to wonder if James has jeopardized his "amateur" status.

Where were these "officials" when James' high school games were being sold to cable TV, helping to fill coffers at St Vincent-St. Mary High School?

The real Super Bowl: For our money, the conference championship games are where all the fun is. After that, it's off to Super Bowl week - which is like slow death by tortilla chips and light beer.

NFC, AFC championship picks: Eagles over Bucs, 37-34 (OT, Eagles win the coin toss). Raiders over Titans, 31-13.

Super Bowl prediction: Raiders over Eagles, 28-20, courtesy of (Rod) Woodson & (Charles) Woodson - and we ain't talkin' law firm. Jerry Rice and Tim Brown will be on your next box of Wheaties.

Pitchers & catchers: Thirty days until the official start of spring training. But who's counting?

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