Tuesday, March 02, 2010

No sudden death for sudden death

So the NFL is talking about changing the rules of overtime.

Bad timing, bad idea.

Yes, I'm aware that the league has reportedly been bandying about this idea for years. But it still seems like the NFL rules committee meets in Minneapolis, if you catch my drift.

I was curious to see how the league would disrespect the Saints even after a decisive Super Bowl victory. At this point, it would have to be pretty creative. Well played.

One of the main proposals is to allow a team to win in sudden death only with a touchdown; if a team kicks a field goal, the other team gets a possession. At first read this seems like a fair solution, addressing the balance between pro wear-and-tear and the need for a fair, yet exciting, decision. But actually it's a stupid solution, because it undermines the most basic tenet of sports: whoever has the best score in the end wins. Either end it in sudden death or time it; to say that a team has to score six points to seal it, as opposed to three, is ridiculous. Points are points. This is simply a shot at micromanaging scoring strategy for drama, which is wrong even if this wasn't an inept attempt at it.

It also assumes that the coin flip literally decides the game, as if defenses aren't allowed to take the field. This also smacks of Brett Favre favoritism. I'm sick of hearing and reading about unfair it is that he didn't get to touch the ball in the NFC Championship. True, I'd probably be complaining too if the Vikings had monopolized the ball in overtime, but that would make me a whiny fan, not a movement.

The other primary idea is more along the lines of college football: give each team a drive until somebody chokes. I dislike this idea for two reasons: 1) Heart attacks run in my family, and 2) Well, I'm about to let you in on a deep, dark secret...

I don't particularly care about college football.

I know that puts me right up there with Barack Obama on the un-American scale, but I have to admit it - college football is simply too large and regional for me to follow. That isn't to say I didn't go to a lot of college games as a student; I did, and enjoyed them. But to me, the real appeal of college football lies in being part of a school or otherwise being in your favorite team's community. My particular college team, the UL Ragin' Cajuns, wasn't very good and didn't even have a conference for much of the time I went there, so they were never BCS-bound (I did love them, though, knew many of them and even worked at their facilities on a regular basis). And even though I grew up 20 miles from Devery Henderson, played high school ball with Trev Faulk and had a first cousin play under Nick Saban, I'm never particularly excited about LSU (to say nothing of the top teams whose states I've never been near, much less identify with). I'll watch the games with friends and family, sure, but they're not something I'd pursue on my own.

And because of that, I'm not particularly thrilled with seemingly endless college overtime. I certainly couldn't apply it to the pros, where my feelings are exactly the opposite intensity.

With the exception of my high school football years, when I found it too polished (and the Saints couldn't do diddly-poo), NFL football has always been my favorite. The relatively small number of teams. A definitive playoff system. Also, I like the rules better. Two feet in for a completion or score. Longer quarters. Elite play (at least for some teams). But, most of all, sudden death overtime.

Anyone who thinks that the current setup isn't dramatic enough apparently hasn't watched enough Garrett Hartley. Not that anyone can, really. Because no matter what the NFL decides, that memory will always stay with me and the rest of the Who Dat Nation.

Please don't let it be the last, NFL.


NOLA Progressive said...

This is a tough one for me to make my mind up on. You know when you're team wins in sudden death, it seems just cricket, but when they lose... Well, you get it.

I definitely don't like this idea of "winning on a touchdown only". Seems counterproductive to me, but I do think I could support a timed period for overtime, with high score taking the W. Tough call.

Ian McGibboney said...

I'm not for sudden death just because the Saints won, because I've always favored it. Conversely, I'm not for changing it just because the Saints won, which almost seems like the catalyst for the long-discussed change. If they must change it, I guess someone will always feel that way. Still seems like sour purple grapes to me.

If they do change it, time it at the very least. Don't complicate it any further with this some-points-are-more-equal-than-others bologna.

Nathan said...

In a game of possessions, sudden death make little sense. The ball doesn't change hands enough to warrant the "first score wins." All it takes is a single drive, and the game is over. Just time it.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nathan, you could make a case for that (if there IS a change, I say time it). But the team on defense has an opportunity to take the ball away on every play. It's not as one-sided as it seems.

I think a single drive is just fine. That's exciting. As I said, I don't like lengthy overtimes like they have in college. And I especially don't like the way the NFL's trying to predetermine how games end. The way it's set up now gives it an urgency and unpredictability that other options don't.

Busplunge said...

What's that Vince Lombardi quote?

No, not that one, the other one.

Oh yeah. That other one.

"We didn't lose, we ran out of time."