The NFL Rules Committee’s sluggish acceptance of progressive ideas is analogous to another legislative body in the United States. Someone presents a grand notion and five, 10 or 20 years later, some lawmaker digs it up and gets praised as a visionary.
For the second time in four years, an AFC team has issued a groundbreaking proposal that would change how overtimes are decided.
In 2018, the New England Patriots were AGAIN the beneficiaries of an OT coin toss that allowed them to drive down the field, score a touchdown, and emerge victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs. In response, the Chiefs proposed a change to overtime rules that would have allowed both teams in the 2022 AFC Championship Game to possess the ball. Their proposal never even made it to a vote and four years later, the Chiefs themselves would benefit from that lack of support.
Had the owners accepted that proposal back then, the Kansas City Chiefs may not have eliminated the Buffalo Bills in one of the best exhilarating offensive endings to a playoff game in recent memory. Ironically, in 2003, the Chiefs and Patriots also proposed the overtime system in place today. However, their proposal fell short of the three-quarters majority required for passage. The league wouldn’t get on board with that idea until 2010.
However, given the asymmetric struggle between modern offenses and each teams’ overmatched defense in the AFC Title Game, the winner was bound to be whichever team won the coin toss. In the playoffs, coin toss winners are 10-1, winning 90.9 percent of overtime contests. The Chiefs promptly proved that point by marching down the field and won after a routine back-shoulder throw from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce was completed in the end zone.
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This offseason, the Tennessee Titans proposed a twist on the rule change that would reward both teams with a possession change that’s been discussed around the league for three years. Their proposal involves an opportunity for the team that wins the coin toss to win if they convert the 2-point conversion.
I can already see where this is going to lead. Let’s say a playoff team with a bruising powerback finds themself with an opportunity to put their opponent to bed from the 2-yard line? For example, the opposing defense would be at an incredible disadvantage facing a powerful runner like Derrick Henry. It’s a savvy proposal by the Titans.
It should also earn more consideration than the spot-and-choose method Baltimore proposed last spring. But if this scenario became a reality the cries for the opposing offense to get an opportunity to match with a score and conversion would begin immediately. And at that point, we’re on the light speed train to college football’s version of overtime. All this time, maybe college football was the one that had it right.
But if the past is prologue, we may be waiting a few years for conservative NFL governors to consider approving the Titans’ TD-and-Conversion rule, which is a shame.