This past Sunday was a perfect example of why the National Football League needs to take a long hard look at the rule book. In other words, the league's overtime rules are absolutely awful.
Sunday night when the New England Patriots scored an overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs never got their hands on the football. The league overtime rules state that if the team winning the coin toss scores a touchdown on the first possession of the overtime period, that's it. Game over. The other team has no chance at being able to tie the game. That really puts a lot of unneeded pressure on the defense.
So, if you win the coin toss and get the ball first, you have a tremendous advantage.Not that the college and high school overtime rules are perfect, but at least both teams get a chance to get the football. The team winning the coin toss will always decide to be on defense, so they can see exactly what they need to do to win or tie the game, forcing another overtime period. It's much more fair and even more exciting than what the NFL offers.
Think back a few years, back when there were no rules at all for overtime. If the game ended in a tie score that was it. It ended with that tie. Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant was once quoted as saying that a tie " Was like kissing your sister. Neither one of you got anything out of it."
The first college overtime rules were put together in 1-AA football because they had a playoff system to determine a national champion. That meant ties were not acceptable. A few years later Division 1-A teams adopted the same playoff rules, which meant games at any level would not end in a tie. There would always be a winner.
The most famous overtime of all was in the 1958 NFL Championship Game when the Baltimore Colts led by the great Johnny Unitas defeated the New York Giants in sudden death overtime. That game was correctly called the greatest game ever played and for that day and time, it was.
I'm sure that since then there have been many games that were actually better football games to watch and this past Sunday's AFC Championship game could have been one of those......if only Kansas City had been given a chance to get the football.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org