(by Christine Bryant, Eastside Editor - February 04, 2010)
Football season is my favorite of the year, but nothing makes me cringe more than when the clock ticks to zero in an NFL game and the score is tied.
So when two weeks ago the NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints went into overtime, I wasn't happy.
Why? It's simple. I hate the NFL's OT rules.
For those of you who aren't familiar with OT rules, the game comes down to sudden death. A coin toss determines which team gets the ball first, and the first team to score wins. During the regular season, if no one scores after 15 minutes, the game ends in a tie. In the post-season, the two teams play until someone scores.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the team that wins the OT toss has won 54 percent of games, with 70 percent decided by a field goal.
It is sudden death, at least to the fan whose team lost the coin toss.
While some sports like basketball offer a timed OT in which the team with the most points at the end of that period wins, NCAA football offers the opportunity for both teams to have possession of the ball.
Although rules vary by sport and level, NFL football is one of the only sports - if not the only - that doesn't offer the opportunity for both teams to have possession, unless the team that wins the coin toss falters.
When a NFC championship game that produces more than 700 net rushing and passing yards comes down to the wire and is decided by overtime in which only one team gets possession of the ball, something is wrong. It's not even about what's fair to the players, the team owners and the NFL. It's about what's fair to football fans.
Yes, Brett Favre had his chance to score at the end of the fourth quarter during the NFC Championship. But Drew Brees also had that same opportunity throughout the game.
Yes, the team that wins the coin toss still must score. But typically after the punt return, it only takes two or three plays to get into field goal range.
Yes, defensive players are paid millions of dollars to stop plays. But offensive players are paid millions of dollars to make plays.
Sounds like a toss up? It is.
No Super Bowl has ever gone into overtime. Let's hope this year isn't the first.