By Ken Reed

As John McEnroe was wont to say, “You can’t be serious!”

Sunday’s Chiefs vs. Bills NFL playoff game was the best football game I’ve ever seen.

That is, until it was decided by the referee’s toss of a coin before the overtime session.

Hey NFL pooh-bahs, how can you create an overtime session in which both teams don’t get a shot at the ball?

The essence of sports competition is trying to create a fair playing field. The NFL OT rule doesn’t provide a fair playing field. Each team — especially in the win-or-go-home-playoffs — deserves a shot with the ball. Deciding playoff games by coin tosses is crackbrained. The college overtime rule might not be perfect but it’s much better than the NFL rule.

To make the NFL OT rule even more head-scratching, the league’s braintrust decided to give the team that lost the coin toss a chance with the ball if the opposing team only scores a field goal, but not if they score a touchdown. Say what?!

What sense does it make to say to the team that loses the coin toss, “Hey, if the other team scores a field goal on its first possession, we’ll give you guys a chance to score. But if the other team scores a touchdown we won’t give you a chance.”

The bottom line is, the current NFL overtime rules make the coin flip to start the overtime a major factor in determining the game’s outcome. And that should never be the case.

In a game of amazing big plays, the biggest might have been the Chiefs winning the coin flip to start the overtime period.

But it’s a simple solution: Each team should get a chance to have the ball so a coin flip doesn’t impact the outcome.
Kudos to the Chiefs and Bills for a superlative effort and for providing an example of sports competition at its best.

And shame on the NFL league office for creating such a strange and unfair overtime rule.

— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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