NFL passes overtime reform in expedited vote; regular season changes to be considered, too
Here at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, pretty much everyone was surprised at the suddenness of this afternoon's news: That the proposal to make postseason overtime changes passed with widespread support.
And in another mild surprise, the league said it will consider at its May meeting whether to expand the use of the policy in the regular season, something that would affect far more games than a few playoff contests.
The changes call for both teams to be allowed a chance to possess the ball in overtime during playoff games. If the team that wins the coin toss fails to score a touchdown, the opponent will also be allowed a possession. If a tie ensues after both teams have had a possession, the game goes into a true sudden death format and the next score wins.
Many coaches seemed either opposed to or unconvinced on the issue during the first two days of the meetings, but today's vote was the result of a great deal of persuasion from commissioner Roger Goodell who urged his owners to cast "yes" votes. They did so in an "owners only" session this afternoon while the league's coaches were said to be on their annual golfing outing here at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes.
Coaches were present for this morning's general session but several, including Atlanta's Mike Smith and Houston's Gary Kubiak, said the overtime debate that was expected never really happened in that particular meeting. All indications prior to this afternoon were that a vote was not expected until Wednesday, if at all.
Competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, said it wasn't as much a matter of twisting owners' arms as it was making a compelling and concise argument.
"In years past, when we went into overtime (debates), I’m not sure we did a good job of crystallizing the statistics and making sure people understood the problem," McKay said. "I think this year we did probably a little better job of explaining the statistics and showing the problem and then proposing a rule that was still football. I know there were a number of owners that helped us and stood up and supported us."
The possible move toward implementing this system in the regular season would be a bolder move. McKay said there are currently an average of just 1.2 overtime playoff games each season. In the regular season, there are far more overtime contests.
That effort to implement the rule in the regular season would be staunchly opposed by the players union. But then again, the union doesn't get a vote.