By J.D. McKay
On Feb. 5, 2017, Tom Brady led one of the best comebacks in a game and forced the first overtime game in the Super Bowl. He won the coin toss and because the Atlanta Falcons defense could not begin to stop Brady, who had thrown for 416 yards before OT, he marched down the field and won, not allowing the Falcon’s gunslinger and league MVP Matt Ryan even a chance to win in OT. Once again, a coin toss has determined when the Patriots’ season ended.
The first overtime football game was played in 1958 and is still remember as the “Greatest Game Ever Played.” The Baltimore Colts’ Alan Ameche ran for a one-yard touchdown to beat the New York Giants in the NFL Championship game. Then, in 1974 the NFL added the overtime rule to all games, not just playoff games. The rules were sudden death overtime — any score, touchdown, field, or safety meant game over. After seeing a bit of a flaw in this system, the NFL changed the rules in 2012, saying that if the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, the game is over, but if they kick a field goal, the other team has the chance to match or win with a touchdown. That seemed to solve the problem until the aforementioned Super Bowl LI.
Last Sunday, the coin toss at the beginning of OT that the Patriots won took the ball out of the hands of this season’s expected MVP Patrick Mahomes. Once again, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown, not letting the most talented young QB to even touch the ball. So, I will propose several NFL changes to make the overtimes more even in a game that has changed so the offense will always be successful.
Idea #1: Go to college football overtime rules
College football overtime rules are very entertaining and much, much better than NFL overtime rules. In college, one team starts at the 25-yard line, going into the endzone and tries to score. Then, touchdown, field goal, or without points, the other team’s offense gets the ball at the 25 and tries to score. These rules give both offenses the ball and makes both defenses play. These rules are also used in high school football, but the ball is started at the 10-yard line. As I said, college is at the 25, so I think that the NFL should start at the 50-yard line. It would make it less of a guarantee that a kicker could make his field goal like starting at the 25-yard line would but still is not as challenging as going 75 or 80 yards.
Idea #2: Play a shorter “fifth quarter”
A regular quarter in an NFL game is 15 minutes and obviously ends after 15 minutes of game time. In OT in the playoffs, the OT could last 15 minutes but because of the sudden death touchdown rule, often ends after whoever won the toss scores at TD. They could play a 10-minute OT period and and play it all the way through. If it is still tied after one period, then play a second period. This would give both teams a chance to have the ball and both defenses a chance to get beat.
Idea #3: Skills competitions*
NFL players are freak athletes and freakishly talented. We should let them show their talent to show the best players and who should win the game. Each team has different positions do drills, and have a best of seven series to decide the winner. Have the QBs try to hit various targets moving further and further away until one misses, then the winning QB earns his team one point. Then, have receivers do one-on-one with defensive backs, best of three series to see if the offense or defense gets a point. My last skills competition suggestion is for kickers. Have them try to kick the ball into one of the field goal post uprights. Moving further back as needed. However, the Bears may have an unfair advantage in this competition because their kicker is Mr. Upright, Cody Parkey.
These NFL rules seriously need to change. Imagine and MLB game going to extra innings and the visitors score a run in the top of the inning, ending the sudden death MLB game. Or, starting and NBA OT with the jump ball, but the team that wins the jump ball gets to keep the ball the whole overtime, not letting Lebron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo touch the ball. That seems ludicrous, but that is basically what the NFL is doing with their current rules.
*This suggestion is obviously a joke but is still better than the current NFL OT rules.