This time of year a lot of nitwit suggestions are made about how to improve pro football. Almost annually one is some form of tinkering with overtime.
Not surprisingly, Atlanta Falcons’ general manager Thomas Dimitroff recently half-heartedly suggested each team should get the ball at least once regardless if a touchdown is scored on the first possession, thus eliminating the sudden death his team suffered in Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots came from 25 points down in the second half to beat them on the first drive of overtime. That proposal, though understandably heartfelt, is ill-founded.
Dimitroff said “we would like to have an opportunity’’ to at least possess the ball once. I’d say holding a 25-point lead and a 99-percent chance of victory with barely a quarter to play indicates you possessed the ball more than enough to win. If you still blow the game, it’s bogus to suggest you were a victim of anything but self-immolation.
Sudden death is still the best form of overtime. If you can’t get it done in four quarters then you’ve had enough chances. After that it’s every man for himself. One-and-done is more than the opposite of bogus. It’s brilliant!
What was not brilliant was a proposal from NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, who had an overtime suggestion that was well off the nitwit chart. His idea to settle the issue? A two-point conversion battle.
With Florio’s plan, one offense and defense goes to one end of the field, and the other offense and defense goes to the other. A two-point conversion attempt occurs at each end, three times per team, with either two or zero points scored and the snaps occurring 25 seconds apart to keep things moving. Heck, why not do it simultaneously, like a track and field meet?
If the game remains tied after three tries each, Florio proposed, they go back and forth until someone wins. Florio claimed “It would be exciting, frenetic, compelling, and it would involve as few as six extra snaps. And we’ve yet to hear a good argument against it.’’
Here’s one: it’s stupid. It would be akin to settling the World Series with a home-run derby. Why play actual football to decide a football game?
Florio further suggested the officiating crews be split, with four at one end of the field and four at the other. So we decide a game with half the officials keeping an eye on two-point conversion tries? How about blind-folded skeet-shooting instead?
A proposal to limit overtime to 10 minutes rather than 15 during the season thankfully also fell on deaf ears at the owners’ meetings. It was proposed as a way to limit the length of games and the players’ exposure to injury, and both are noble thoughts. But the fact is: Few overtimes last that long. So you’d be fixing something that isn’t broken.
The problems with pro football are many, but overtime is not one of them. Frankly, I’d favor going back to the original rule, which was you score you win. Period. After a four-quarter stalemate, no one should be entitled to further considerations. But it’s clear many feel no one should lose on a field goal today, when a 45-yard try is considered little more than a chip shot for the game’s top kickers.
Okay. I’ll give you that. But give you the ball back after you give up a touchdown on the first drive of overtime? Sorry. You lose.