NFL overtime needs overhaul

Bill's Rant

December 07, 2007

I saw something yesterday on Deadspin.com, the popular sports blog, that touched a nerve. One of the writers there was opining about the NFL sudden-death overtime system and argued that he preferred the college version, in which teams get equal opportunities to score.

Well, NFL OT always has been a pet peeve of mine, too, and I agree it needs to be revamped.

However, I'm not fond of the college version, either, where teams blast away starting from just outside the opposing red zone. Too much like Arena Football. And, as the Deadspin piece acknowledged, it has the potential to distort statistics, which is something I believe most fans feel strongly about.

But I do think that the NFL needs to adopt an OT procedure that gives each team at least one possession. If Team A scores first, then Team B receives a kickoff and a shot to tie or win. After that, it's sudden death.

And one more key thing should be changed - the coin flip that gives a team the choice about the kickoff. In any sudden-death scenario, the coin flip winner has the potential advantage of an extra offensive possession. So award the opening OT kickoff on merit rather than chance. Perhaps, total yards gained in regulation or first downs or turnovers or some combination.

Some folks might enjoy the frenetic pinball-game excitement of college's overtime system, but it marginalizes defense, and I believe most NFL fans want an overtime system in which all of a team's talents can be brought to bear in a fair outcome.

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