I am all for trying new things. My wife probably would laugh at me saying that. She thinks I like the same things, over and over and over again. But I am up for experimenting within reason. The NFL is too.
Today they made the change official, eliminating overtime as we’ve known it forever in the pro ranks. Now the rules revert to the long, well explained version Ed Hercules gave us at the beginning of the overtime between the Broncos and Steelers playoff game last season. The game is over if you score first only if you score a touchdown on the first possession. If you kick a field goal, then the other team has one possession to tie or beat you. If they tie you, then you go into a sudden death. If the first team doesn’t score, then the game becomes sudden death upon the change of possession.
I already miss the Matt Hasselbeck kind of overtime.
Sudden death. No ifs ands or buts. Game can end at any moment. Playing defense, offense, and special teams all matter from the moment OT begins. Last year Bebe Thomas made sure we didn’t have much discussion about the new format by taking a short pass the distance and ending the OT early with no debate.
That was the only overtime game of the postseason. The NFL will experience many more than that next year.
And the debates about this new format’s merit will officially begin. Is it fair to get the ball second and have all 4 downs at your disposal? Is it wiser to kickoff instead of receive? Should a team try harder to score a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal with the first possession? What happens the first time they do and they fail to score the touchdown and the other team wins? Is extending the overtime (potentially) really in the best interest in the health of the players Mr. Goodell?
We will ask and debate many of those questions and others. We will come up with new (and better?) ideas for overtime. We will (probably? maybe?) miss the simple approach of sudden death. We will criticize coaches every time they make the wrong decision.
Like I said, I am up for change. It’s like changing the rules in your fantasy league to spice it up. You change the rosters. Or the scoring. Or the number of teams. Sometimes you are surprised and pleased. Sometimes you make a mistake and can’t wait to change it back.
The game won’t be ruined. Everyone will play by the same rules. I think the same for the NFL. But I think this change will lead to other changes. People won’t be happy. Coaches. GM’s. Players. Fans. Media. Somebody or somebodies will gripe and complain and we will have another change within a few years. Mark it down.
And then some people, like me, will say, “Why didn’t we just leave it as sudden death? That was fun.” Maybe my wife is right. I don’t like trying new things if I like things the way they are.