During the regular season, the NFL’s overtime rules are like Tila Tequila — peculiar, annoying and largely harmless. They can even bring unexpected, off-kilter entertainment.
Without that quirky sudden death, sports would have been robbed of Phil Luckett, the referee who couldn’t get the coin toss right. Not to mention Donovan McNabb’s incomprehension of a tie or the rules of a league he’d played in for a decade.
A little comedy is never a bad thing, especially in the increasingly self-important world of pro sports. Except when it reduces the drama in a championship game.
Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to change overtime in the playoffs to complete quarters. No more sudden death, just a full 15 minutes, and if it’s still tied, go to a second complete overtime quarter and so on.
This isn’t a fairness issue. It’s a drama issue.
That’s what Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and the rest of the Sunday voices keep missing. It’s plenty fair that Brett Favre and the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC championship without touching the ball in OT.
After all those turnovers, they were lucky just to be in overtime. Heck, Adrian Peterson probably fumbled his cell phone 15 times Monday afternoon. And pity the fool next to AP in a Starbucks.
The shame is the game could have been more compelling with a better rule. Imagine if the Saints knew the Vikings would get another chance after they scored in OT. Drew Brees and Co. would have pushed for a touchdown rather than meekly setting up for that 40-yard Super Bowl clinching field goal. Then, the chance for a crushing mistake is still alive.
So much more strategy comes into play if postseason overtimes are contested like regular full quarters. It also allows a game to breathe into an instant classic.
What if Favre and Brees dueled through three overtimes? We’re instantly talking about one of the greatest playoff games of all time instead of just an all right one where the Vikings Plaxicoed themselves.
Even the NHL, the worst-run league in sports, changes the overtime rules in the postseason. It’s all about the drama. One of those marathon quadruple OT affairs is all it takes to get anyone talking pucks.
In the NFL, Favre would retire after the first OT and unretire before the third, but that’s all part of the drama.
Those who claim football is too physical of a sport to allow this are completely missing the point. That’d be part of the title test. Survive and advance wouldn’t just be a trite slogan anymore.
–Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro
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