Posted on: September 11, 2009 9:43 pm

Overtime In The NFL

As I sit here writing this entry, I cannot but help about Colin Cowherd criticizing anyone who questions the NFL overtime rules and would like to make suggestions about alternatives that could be considered.  Apparently, he thinks anyone who questions the NFL overtime rules is a dweeb and needs to get a better job, or a life, so that they do not have time to waste on things like this.  As we all know, the opening game of the NFL season ended last night with a Steeler field goal to end the game on the first possession of overtime.  So, just as in many other cases over the years, the winner of the coin toss determined the outcome of the game in reality.

It seems that the people who support the current overtime rules in the NFL make a number of arguments against why the rules should not be changed.  I think one has been that it has always been that way and it should remain the same.  This would be a ridiculous argument for one big reason.  Sometimes change can be good and it may even improve games.  THey also bring up needing to keep the overtime play as short as possible to avoid player fatigue and injury.  If keeping the overtime short is the primary concern then just do a series of tie breakers based on stats.  For example, the team with the most offensive yards wins the game.  Obviously I do not seriously support this, but wanted to make a point.  I have also heard that if teams just do their job and play defense, then they would get the ball back and the overtime would then be fair.  Well, in that case, if you want to avoid fatigue and injury, just do your job and win the game in regulation.  Another argument that Cowherd made was that the coin flip to start overtime does not determine the outcome of a game any more than the opening kick coin toss.  This is obviously a faulty argument in that the team that plays defense first could give up an opening drive score, and then they get the ball back with a chance to win the game.  Yes, the over time coin flip does determine outcome more.

One alternative that people have discussed on the radio and in blogs, etc. would be moving to the system that college football utilizes for overtime.  My understanding, I do not watch a lot of college ball, is that each team alternates getting the ball at the opponent's 25 yard line.  If they score, then the other team gets a chance with the ball.  Further, if the first team with possession in overtime scores a field goal and the opponent then scores a touchdown, the game is over at that point.  One criticsm of this is that you have games that go into six overtimes.  Well, that is not the same as six quarters as that only means that each team has had 6 possessions in overtime.  I really do not see this as a valid reason against this system.  However, what I do see as a legitimate argument against this overtime sustem is the fact that it utterly eliminates some major aspects of the game.  First, it completely eliminates special teams play.  There are no kickoffs, no punts, and it eliminates true defensive play as well.  Under this syatem of rules theere are just too many aspects of the game that are reduced or eliminated and it really should not be utilized in the NFL.

Another idea I have heard recently was put forward by Mike Golic on Mike and Mike In the Morning today.  Under this system, the first team to six points in overtime would win the game.  I would take this to mean that if the first team to have possession scored a touchdown, the game would then be over much like it is now with first team to score wins.  However, if the first team to score in overtime scores a field goal, then they have to score another field goal to win.  This would mean that both teams would have at least one possession in overtime.  The drawback I see here is that this could go on for a fairly long period of time if you have two very good defensive teams playin, as was the case in the Titans Steelers game last night.  One thing that makes this better than the college overtime rules is the fact that all aspects of the game would still be important in the overtime period here.  There would still be some negatives though.  With this, there certainly could be increased likelihoods of injury.  This would be better than the current system overall, but still there would have to be a better option.

The alternative put forward by Mike Greenburg was an overtime with a reduced time, like a 10 minute overtime period.  This is similar to the system used in the NHL which also has a shortened overtime period during the regular season.  However, unlike the NHL, it would not be first team to score wins.  This overtime system would entail playing the entire, let's say 10 minutes, overtime period and the score at the end of that period stands as the final.  This would mean that if both teams were still tied after the overtime period, the game would just end in a tie.  This is what we have now as far as games ending in a tie after one overtime period.  Donovan McNabb learned that last season I believe.  In my view this would be a better system than the ones outlined above in that each team would get a possession, all aspects of the game would remain intact, and there should be less chance of injury and fatigue with the reduced overtime period.

Here is the system that I would propose.  It is a hybrid of the NFL and the college football overtime systems.  At the beginning of overtime, there would be a kickoff.  Let's say for example that the Patriots receive the overtime kickoff from the Jets.  If the Patriots go down the field and score a touchdown, then the ball is kicked off to the Jets.  When the Jets get the ball, they have to score a touchdown, or the game is over.  This insures that both teams get at least one possession.  However, let's say that the Patriots score a field goal, then like in college the Jets can score a field goal to extend to another overtime possession, or win the game with a touchdown.  What if the Patriots are unable to move the ball on offense?  Then, like in regulatio, they can punt.  If the Jets score anything after that then the Jets win.  If the Jets cannot score, they could then punt as well.  This would then cause all aspects of the game to remain important and would mean that field position strategy would remain important as well.  This would, in my mind combine the best aspects of the above overtime systems and create an overtime far superior to the current one as well.

Until then, let's have some great football games this weekend!
Posted on: September 2, 2009 5:38 pm

What the Labor Day Holliday Means

The Labor Day Holliday means many things to a lot of people in this country.  To many it just means that you cannot wear white shoes, or pants, or whatever article it is a faux pas to wear in white after the labor Dat weekend.  I have never inderstood that and I probably never will.  I just wear what I like whatever time of the year and to heck what anyone says about it violating some Labor Day Rule.

To others, Labor Day signals the impending season change from summer to fall.  Here, in San Antonio, it signals the move from oppressively hot and humid summer to slightly less hot and humid fall.  Eventually we get to very warm winter and then increasingly hot spring.  This seasonal change probably means a lot more to people who actually see seasons, but I digress.

For myself, and many others, it means a changing of seasons of sorts as well.  When Spring comes around, all of us baseball fans start signing up for our fantasy basball leagues, looking at spring training schedules, looking over our team's rosters, and imagining how great our team will be once games get underway.  All baseball fans are anxious, and optimistic.  This runs from the powerhouses like my beloved Red Sox and hated Yankees to the Royals and Pitrates.  There are fans from every single team that have their optimism restored with the coming of Spring and the start of the baseball season.  However, the beginning of spring signals that other sports are coming to an end as well.  The NCAA tournament is winding down or over, the NBA and NHL are winding down their regular season as well.  A lot of fans need something to cheer for at this time, and in comes baseball.

The baseball summer seems to go by very quickly these days.  Maybe it is that I am getting older, but it seems like in no time at all we have made it through the All Star break, past the July 31 trade deadline and the month of August.  It is the time when most fans come to the realization that their team will not be playing meaningful baseball in September and October, and their season is virtually over.  Fans in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and San Diego, to name a few, need something to cheer for once again.

And in steps Labor Day, and the signal of the start of fall.  It, like the start of Spring, signals the ending of something.  In this case, the baseball season is winding down to a close.  The front runners are set.  The division battles are close to over and it will all be over in a very short amount of time.  what are fans to do?  We have a solution, in comes football!  College football starts Labor Day weekend, tomorrow night this year.  Fans from all over the nation are waking up yet again.  A week later, the NFL season starts.  Those fans in Pittsburgh that had nothing to really cheer for in baseball, now have the Steelers season to cheer for.  The fans in San Diego now have the Chargers about to begin play.  The fans in Kansas City have, well, I am not sure what is expected from the Chiefs this year, but they can have hope once again.  It may be gone in a matter of a month but they can have hope.  I look forward to my New England Patriots starting the season against the Bills.  Although it will be a busy start to the fall with the Boston Red Sox in good position to make the post season.

I am hoping for a great Labor day weekend and start to another season of football.  we can all have belief in our teams and optimism for the season.  Except for Buffalo, plan on losing your first game this year.  Wink, wink.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com