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The NFL's No-Brainer

NFL owners are currently meeting to discuss a few rule changes, including one to alter the way overtime is played. To me, this seems like a no-brainer. The issue is this:
Currently, the first team to score any points wins. The team that wins the coin toss determining the first offensive possession in overtime now wins the game almost 60 percent of the time, [Rich] McKay said, up from about 50 percent between 1974 and 1993.
Considering the popularity of the NFL, the few games each team plays per season and the stakes that ride on each win and loss, it seems unfair to allow outcomes that are heavily influenced by random chance.

(from Flickr user Scott Kinmartin)

Here's how I would design the rule if I had unilateral control of the NFL: the winner of the coin flip would choose either to kick-off or receive. If the team that receives first scores on the first possession, the kick-off team gets exactly one chance to tie or win the game. If neither team scores on their first possession, then whichever team scores first wins the game.

After all, in baseball, the team that gets to bat first in extra innings doesn't automatically win when they score a run, the home team gets a shot in the bottom of the inning. Why professional football has utilized such a nonsensical system for overtime for as long as they have baffles me, honestly.


John Morris said…
Why not just a timed period?

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