March 30, 2022
NFL owners voted to change the overtime rules for post-season games. After the great Bills-Chiefs playoff game saw Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen never got on the field in overtime and watched Patrick Mahomes march his team down the field in seconds the debate was back on.
Before owners voted in south Florida yesterday, there were people arguing both sides. Some used the numbers to show that teams who won the coin toss in overtime were scoring first at a high rate and that it just wasn't fair. Others screamed that if a team and its fan base doesn't like the current rule then play defense and stop the opposition.
I have long supported the idea that each team should get a possession in overtime. I saw it work in the Arena Football League many years ago and believed it was long overdue for the NFL to adopt a similar plan.
I have told the story about the very first game that involved overtime. My dad was there at Yankee Stadium when the Giants and Colts were playing the 1958 NFL Championship game. He told the story of when the fourth quarter ended how players and fans didn't really know what to do or what came next. But there was an overtime. Dad was standing behind the end zone when Alan Ameche dove into the end zone to give the Colts a 23-17 win over the Giants.
The NFL had put a clause in its bylaws years earlier about playing a sudden death overtime if a title game was tied at the end of regulation. But on August 28, 1955 the Giants played a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams in Portland, Oregon. Game promoter Harry Glickman got approval from the NFL that if the game was tied after the fourth quarter there would be an overtime. He promoted the overtime possibility as a means to sell tickets even though he couldn't guarantee the game would be tied after the fourth quarter.
Of course the game ended up 17-17 at the end of the fourth quarter. Players and coaches were not interested in sticking around any longer but after referee Ross Bowen spoke with the Rams owner and then Giants General Manager Wellington Mara(now co-owner) all parties agreed to play the overtime.
The Rams took the kickoff to start overtime and quarterback Norm Van Brocklin marched his team down the field and scored a touchdown 3:28 into the extra session. The Giants' offense never got on the field in OT. After the game, Rams' coach Sid Gillman said he didn't like the overtime rule and felt it put too much emphasis on winning the coin toss. He added that he felt the league needed to implement a rule that allowed both teams to get a possession in overtime. That was in 1955!
Almost 70 years later, Sid got his wish...although it will have to be a playoff game. Some things just take a long time to get done...
Final thought: The life expectancy of a giraffe is about 27 years.