As you’ve heard, the NFL voted on this year’s rules changes at the owners’ annual meeting in Florida that concluded Wednesday. The one rule change that we all probably saw coming was 2010′s postseason overtime rule being adopted for all games.
Initially I was against tinkering with the OT rule. You know the arguments for and against. I always felt there was nothing wrong with the NFL’s true “sudden death” approach, and as such I respectfully disagreed with the league observers and commentators who suggested it would somehow be an “embarrassment” for a Super Bowl to be decided by a field goal on the opening drive of overtime.
Why? It’s how OT games have been decided since 1974. If one team didn’t get an “opportunity” to score in OT, so what? If a team doesn’t want to lose that way, don’t let the game go to overtime. And if it does get to OT, don’t let the other guys score first. Simple. This isn’t baseball. It’s football.
But of course the trend has been to modify overtimes, to decide tied games by the abominable college rule that also is used in many states for their high school games. I’ve always been a proponent of Bill Parcells’ philosophy. Why would you change the fundamental nature of the game by removing punt returns and field position? Let’s play football, not have a field goal contest or a shootout.
Yet the NFL didn’t adopt those rules. I wasn’t a big fan of the new rule it did adopt two years ago at this time, either. But after trying it on for size (even though it was only in effect once, and Tim Tebow of all people made it moot by lifting Denver over Pittsburgh the old-fashioned way, by TD on the first play of OT two months ago), it seems to me that if the league was going to revamp its overtime rules, it went with the best rule.
By 30-2, the owners this week voted to extend the rule to all games. Perhaps the margin of that vote was influenced by coaches who want to deal with the same rules for all games, not a different set for the postseason. But it appears that the new rule is being embraced by the league.
A historical note: Green & White fans of a certain age will miss the old OT rule, which was very good to their team over the years. The Jets have played 39 overtime games since ’74. Twelve of them have been decided on an opening-drive field goal. The Jets won nine of those games while losing three. In fact, the last game they lost without touching the ball on offense was in 1992, when they fell to the Colts at Indianapolis, 6-3. Since then they had won seven straight on the opening drive of OT. Not one of those wins was “embarrassing.” They were all won by the rules in effect at the time.
No longer. But at least we’re not playing more than one extra inning in breaking our ties now.
Below is a transcript of Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay’s short Q&A with reporters on Wednesday discussing all the rules and bylaw proposals. And feel free to leave a comment about the OT rule or any of the other rules changes that are discussed below or should be discussed at next year’s annual meeting.
McKay: There were seven total rule proposals voted on today. Five of those passed; two of those did not.
The two that did not pass: One was submitted by Buffalo, which was a change in instant replay to move the decision-maker from the referee to the replay assistant upstairs, which did not pass. The second was to change the horse collar rule that we have and take out the exception that we have for the quarterback in the pocket. It did not pass.
The other ones all passed, including Pittsburgh’s proposal to take our modified sudden death overtime procedures and move them into the regular season. It did pass. All of the rest of them that I have covered with you before, those all passed.
On the bylaw side, we passed Bylaw Proposal No. 1, which is a very simple cleanup trying to make Thanksgiving day and Christmas day or Christmas night games the same as our other night games.
We tabled a number of the ones that dealt with the player and roster movements, including some IR proposals. We felt there was some really good input and we felt like we would table them. We will vote on them in May. That would include the trade deadline; the overall roster limit of 90; the one activation you could make off of IR; and the one concussion-diagnosis exception to our active/inactive list that was proposed. We just have some work to do on those.
On why Playing Rule Proposal No. 2, which would have removed the horse collar penalty exception for quarterbacks in the pocket, did not pass despite promoting player safety…
We never are going to back up from player safety. We are always going to push the agenda as much as we can. We appreciate when teams push it also. In this instance, the rule was developed for an open-field tackle where we felt like a defender had a chance with an alternative to do something else, and we felt like the injury risk was going to occur because the defender was able to actually use the runner’s momentum against himself and swing and fall on the back of his legs. We never thought that necessarily applied in the pocket. We watched the tape and didn’t feel that was a change that was also fair to the defender. The defender in the pocket is fighting off an offensive player, grabbing and just trying to do everything he can. We just didn’t see the injury risk and that is why we didn’t support it. It is not a place we like to be because we are always going to promote player safety. We just didn’t think this had an impact on player safety.
On if there were discussions on Thursday night games and limiting travel…
There was. Howard Katz gave a report and gave us some guidelines that he is going to try to use as they schedule those and when the commissioner creates the schedule. Those were shown to the teams and talked about. The teams were pretty comfortable with those guidelines.
On if resistance to the bylaw proposals that focused on the roster caused them to be tabled…
No, there were some really good ideas and suggestions. There is not necessarily resistance. We have just got to work on the language a little bit. They do not need to be passed today. We will pass them in May, we will deal with them and we will show them to the union and do all the normal steps. We knew coming in that we traditionally do that a lot with bylaws, and we felt like in this instance that was the way we would go and we would table them.
On further discussing Bylaw Proposal No. 6, which would allow for a designated player to return from injured reserve after a defined time period…
The IR rule, perhaps there are a couple of amendments we may propose to that, yes.
On if average time of game could decrease as a result of the approval of Playing Rule Proposal No. 7, which calls for all turnovers to be confirmed by the instant replay official…
It potentially could. When you see it, it feels like it would slow the game down because you are taking what would be a challenge and taking it upstairs for confirmation. We didn’t see that in the scoring plays, and we think in the turnovers it will have the same effect. It is pretty much even, although in this instance the difference is we have a lot of plays that are turnovers, we go to a commercial break and the coach challenges coming out of the commercial break, which now really slows down the game. You will have none of that in this instance because the confirmation will occur before that. We like the way the procedure worked on scoring plays, and we felt like this was a change we could make without adding game time.
Tags: Bill Parcells, NFL owners' annual meeting, overtime rule, Rich McKay
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