To Roger: One Man’s Whining About The NFL Overtime System
Dear Commissioner Goodell,
Something needs to be done about OT! I warn you that I often start emotionally, so bare with me- I promise a return to prudence by my letter’s middle. While I do not seek to generalize, it behooves me to emphasize that I am not alone in my criticism of your league’s extra-time format. I’d like to begin by addressing what prompted a group of devout NFL fans to explode in outrage following the NFC championship game on the eve of January 24th. (Out of necessity and a respect for your precious time, I am omitting our consensus hatred for the NFL’s pass interference penalty. That certainly contributed to the outrage, but in our late-game-exacerbated intoxication, we made the wise decision to focus on just one issue)
It all starts with the OT coin flip. Now it wasn’t the actual coin flip we had a particular “beef” with, it was the implications of that coin flip. The question on all our minds quickly reformed as it had many times in the past- How can we let a coin flip determine the outcome of an NFL game? Especially one of this magnitude!? How can one team win a game without their opponent getting ample opportunity to either contest or respond? At first, we all agreed it would be better to adopt the college system. But then after some seriously drunken, yet undoubtedly scholarly discourse (the kind only passionate Bears fans, and maybe some Eagles fans, can engage in) we realized this was impractical. It extends the game too much and could be fiscally detrimental to the broadcasting networks, physically detrimental to the players, and in my opinion, most so marginalizing special teams (both teams starting at the opposing 25 yard line). So what is the solution? What’s the compromise that will satisfy both the NFL’s investment in profit along with its undying commitment to the fans and players?
That’s where Brian comes in. First to 6 points he says. Hmmm… Interesting… But what exactly does this mean Brian? It’s simple. The first team to score 6 points wins. If a team is able to drive down the field and score a touchdown, the game is over. If a team settles for a field goal, their opponent gets a chance to respond. Essentially, any 1 touchdown or 2 field goals wins a team the game. Brilliant I thought! Well, not at first. My fellow drunks and I were immediately inclined to argue and find this system’s flaws. To all of our dismay, Brian’s suggestion was in fact the perfect compromise. The game has the potential of being just as short as it would be with the current format and just long enough to give both teams their fair share at a win.
This is where we all agreed… a defense that gives up a touchdown is more deserving of a loss than one that gives up only a field goal. In the First-to-6 system, if a team must settle for a first possession field goal, the opposing offense is then given a chance to either match that field goal or go for the win. “Well that’s just like college!” we all shouted at Brian. But no, in fact it is nothing like college. Here’s why: There is incentive for that 2nd team to go for the touchdown even though their opponent just got a field goal, because if they relinquish possession tied at 3 points a piece, their opponent is a field goal away from victory and they will not get a second chance to match. Thus, the system abbreviates the game enough to clearly differentiate it from college, it preserves the networks’ commitment to profit, and it does not exclude special teams!
Most so, it is fair. Much more fair than the current system. And fairness should always be a central tenant to NFL policymaking, Mr. Goodell. That’s why you have integrated instant replay in such depth. So let’s get it right! At the very least, if you cannot do that, I implore you to poll the players on their opinions of Brian’s First-to-6 system. I hate Brett Favre just as much as the next guy, but the Vikings D deserved more of a chance to send him back on the field. No fan out there can claim that Hartley’s field goal determined that the Saints are a better team than the Vikings. The buck stops here, Mr. Goodell. The petition to enforce the First-to-6 system starts now!