A Thanksgiving Miscarriage of Justice
We’re only one week away from Thanksgiving, a day for which rabid football fans are grateful. With an NFL triple-header, that means—if you include the pre-game chat—one can watch gridiron action from noon until nearly midnight.
However, the thing that no pigskin aficionado appreciates is the prospect, no matter how small, that the Vikings-Lions, Redskins-Cowboys, or Steelers-Colts games (or all three) could end in a tie.
While statistically unlikely, after two games ended in ties two consecutive weeks in October one can argue that is not impossible. The first involved the Seattle Seahawks and, while I’m not a Seahawks fan, my web maven is; I can still feel her pain.
What’s worse is the second between Cincinnati and Washington took place before an international audience in London. To quote the start of the Associated Press’ story on the game: “The sold-out crowd of 84,488 at Wembley Stadium left deflated and even puzzled…”
Puzzled is right. Isn’t the point of playing a football game that one team wins? Had I been one of those fans in London, I would feel like I had just been served an ice cream sundae with dung topping.
Correcting the Situation
The NFL catches heat for everything from its handling of “Deflategate” to domestic violence reports, yet I have rarely heard commentators knocking the league for a matter that falls within its purview to correct immediately.
Thanks to adding a sudden death overtime four decades ago, pro football seldom ends in a tie. But when it does, it leaves everyone feeling cheated, win-loss percentages in a confused mess, and fans like me wondering: If it’s not good enough for the playoffs, why would you allow the possibility during the regular season?
Do you see high school or college games end in a tie? No, because they have the good sense to allow teams to keep going until someone prevails. College adds the provision that after two overtimes, teams have to try for a two-point conversion. The odds are someone’s going to fail on the PAT if they go into a third overtime.
Creating a Tie-Breaker
Now, you could argue that setting up a college-like overtime where pros ran the ball from the 25-yard line would end in a scoring fest, but what’s wrong with moving it back to the 35 or 40?
And if the bruising nature of the pro game means that players couldn’t handle all the knocks of going six or seven quarters, then if still tied after one overtime period let the teams line up for 45-yard field goals and keep kicking until someone prevails. Kind of a football version of soccer’s penalty shoot-outs.
There may be other suggestions, ones that I suggest the NFL Rules Committee start weighing this off-season. To continue to allow this insane situation to continue just because ties are rare only proves that no one wants to bite the bullet.
Indeed, I wonder why fans in Arizona and London didn’t erupt last month at the end of their respective games with resounding boos and a chorus of “No tie! No tie! No tie!” chants. Anyone could have understood their fury. The only question is why the league doesn’t correct such this miscarriage of justice. A game is meant to have a winner and a loser, not a no-decision.
With enough gumption on the NFL’s part, we could offer thanks a year from now that we won’t have to sit down with a belly full of turkey and contemplate the prospect of coming away feeling like no one won the game.