They must have nothing better to do

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO,

Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) -- It appears that the owners of NFL teams need something else to occupy their time besides fighting over who will get more of the spoils of the season, themselves or the players, and/or who will be in their foursome at the club this weekend. So, they address the way the game is played under the guise of improving it for the fans and, so they profess, the game itself. Right!

Sometimes, it is the obvious over which they agonize for without seeming to grapple with these apparent to all other conundrums there is not much else to keep them busy. For example, how difficult to embrace instant replay and bring the game of professional football into the present, to correct the ineptitude of the referees, other than for the fact that it can be a highlight film of men too old to be keeping up with the game making decisions that affect the outcome, decisions that are wrong? OK, instant replay is in but it must have limitations, so they claim, since it holds up the game. Total, unadulterated nonsense. What holds up the decision making process when watching the instant replay is the dictum that the referees stare at the obvious until their vision is blurred.

Instant Replay
NFL Referees have 60 seconds to review a call. .
The referee has 60 seconds to watch the instant replay of the previous action and decide if the original call was correct. Is that pretty clear? One minute!!! The referee must see "incontrovertible visual evidence" for a call to be overturned. If the challenge fails, the original ruling stands and the challenging team is charged with a timeout. If the challenge overrules the previous call, the call is reversed; should there have been an official score change, the score will be changed again, resulting in the original score and with no loss of a timeout.

Because of the limited number of challenges, and the possible penalty of a lost timeout, coaches typically reserve their challenges for key plays and that, of course, opens the door for greater incompetency.

So, in anticipation of arguing about which side, owners or players, will carve out a larger bite of the monetary pie that is the NFL, they found the time for yet another change to justify their existence and reason for jetting around to various meetings. Apparently, they think they know. Not. Like the government, they form committees for the sake of having something to do and to legitimatize their seeming involvement in the machinations that are the basis for each of the committees.

That brings us to overtime.

Lending credence and proof to the suggestion that these folks actually watch the collegiate games for more than prospects they came up with this beauty. In overtime, if the team that has possession of the ball first scores a touchdown, the game is over. But if it kicks a field goal, the other team would get a possession and would win with a touchdown. If nobody scores on the initial drives, or if both teams kick field goals, the game will revert to sudden death.

NFL Coin Flip
Some would argue that the coin flip in OT is not big a deal.
The reason for the change, so they say, is the increased accuracy of kickers since 1994, when the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30-yard line, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and opted to receive. Statistics examined by the committee, the same folks that were asked to develop a horse and came up with a camel, showed that, beginning in 1994, teams that win the coin toss have won overtime games 59.8 percent of the time. Those statistics also gave evidence that, since 1994, the team that won the overtime coin flip prevailed 34.4 percent of the time on the first possession.

Aha! Win the coin toss and you are likely to win the game, one way or the other, in OT. Win the coin toss and odds of you winning on the first possession are not that great.

I am okay with that since it presupposes that the other team either wins on its first possession or one of them wins on its second a 59.8 to 40.2 clip/advantage. Not exactly revealing or the stuff you put in time capsules.

So, with that extraordinary data in hand, the NFL's competition committee said the change was necessary because a growing percentage of overtime games were being won by the team that won the coin flip, in part because of improved field goal accuracy. OK, acceptable to me and not exactly sufficiently problematic to cause a rules change. Actually, in light of claims that instant replay, with a decision mandated in one minute (admittedly, never the case), this change expands the game quite a bit via the OT route. Give and take on a grand scale.

And the puzzlement increases for coaches that have determined their options on the field during overtime. Do they keep the offense on the field for a fourth- down gamble or kick a field goal on the opening possession of overtime, knowing the other team could still win when they get a possession after? Once the announcers have it figured out, or so they think, they will make inquiry of the coach before telling you what they think and anyone speaking Mandarin ought to be good with that.

Rex Ryan
Head coach Rex Ryan and Josh Mauga #53 of the New York Jets celebrate a 23-20 ovetime win over the Detroit Lions last year. Michigan.
How much simpler it would have been to state that each team gets possession at least once and, whether they score a field goal or touchdown, anything at all, the opposition is allowed possession to determine if they can equal or best the score just achieved. Following one possession each, sudden death kicks in and neither team may employ military equipment to realize the stated purpose of "sudden death."

While team schedules have been posted this past week, they are not, in and of themselves any indicator that all is well in the exceptionally rich world of professional football. Instead of bullets, they are dodging bank accounts, check books, endorsement deals, advertising commitments, network schedules, season ticket sales, vendors who do not know how many hot dogs, hamburgers and cans of beer to prepare, manufacturers whose Chinese suppliers have held up on production of shirts/sweaters/jackets/hats. Are you still buying into the "I love the fans in this city!" statements?

Think about it for a moment...all the OT statistic means is that the team that wins the coin toss figures to get the ball one more time than the other guys if neither scores on the first possession. And, read the new rule again, carefully. Why go for anything but a touchdown? When that happens the rule either becomes relatively meaningless or it will be time for another committee to gather, collect some more statistics and make yet another change.

They may own the teams but do they know the game? Can they bring themselves to think like the fans, the people that make this sport, any sport, what it is?

You gotta be kidding!

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