I really didn’t give a flying flip about who won the Super Bowl but now that it’s a week later, I’m still not sure I can make heads nor tails about how it ended.
To me, it just isn’t right no matter the sport, that after regulation play ends both sides don’t have an equal chance to win in whatever extra time or overtime is played.
Never mind in what the NFL tells us is the biggest game in the history of the world.
But apparently to the League, if all things are equal after sixty minutes, then it’s okay for a flip of the coin to help determine who ultimately prevails.
It just doesn’t make sense. I had no emotional nor fiscal interest in the game last weekend. Sure, as an ex-New Yorker I’m supposed to hate the Patriots. On the other hand I live in the South and should have been yelling and screaming for Atlanta, only a short 140 miles due east of my Samsung big screen. And while I probably did fancy the Falcons, I just never really cared one way or the other, one team or the other.
But my takeaway when it ended was this:
1. Tom Brady is the best quarterback any Jets fan has seen since Dick Wood.
2. Bill Belichick is far and away tops in the business, certainly since Rex Ryan got booted out of Buffalo. Ask Rex, he’ll tell you.
3. I am really glad Dan Quinn accepted the Atlanta job and turned down the opportunity to be the Jets head coach. It would have been inhumane punishment for the Jets to be alive in every game week after week, late into the fourth quarter, until finding a way to blow it. In fact in just the past three months the fraternal order of BLOW (Big Leads Outthe Window) have added three very esteemed new members: Coach Quinn and Coach Saban now sit on the membership committee that is chaired by Mrs. Clinton. But back to something more important: the Jets. At least with our present coach, Todd Bowles, the Jets are normally out the game by halftime so we can shut it off and move on to something productive with our time. Like writing a blog.
4. The League’s method of settling a tie needs to go under the hood for some serious review.
So as it stands now, when we get to overtime and I win the flippin’ coin toss, I’ll receive the kickoff. And if I score a touchdown I can keep the ball and go home. Anything less, including a three pointer, then you get the ball to give it a try. According to the NFL rules makers, it’s a fair way to do it.
NFL overtime is a gunfight. If you get the first shot you’d better kill. Wound me with a field goal and I’ll get a free chance to kill you. That first fire better be your very best one.
Why do all the other sports have it figured out except for the No Fun League?
College football gets it. The actual overtime mechanics may spur debate but at least each team gets a chance. And the coin toss is indeed important as the winner decides the order of possession.
In the NBA, both teams touch the ball at least every twenty-four seconds in the five minute overtime. The same goes for NCAA basketball, at least since 1985, when the shot clock was first implemented. This keeps North Carolina from setting up in the visually excruciating ‘four corner’ offense and holding the ball for 4:59. Now UNC, and everyone else, can only hold the ball for thirty seconds before they have to advance it.
Baseball, the only sport where you don’t control the ball on offense, is simple. Once we get to the tenth inning, you get three outs and so do I until someone scores more than the other guy. But what did I just read? The baseball aristocrats are thinking of experimenting in the minor leagues this season with each team starting with a runner on second when the game goes into extras. Please fellas, the great game has enough problems in trying to entice a new generation of viewers. That won’t be the ticket. Leave it alone. #tradition.
Hockey overtime can be a little different as the team that controls the face-off theoretically can skate the puck right down the ice and score, but at least the opening face-off is skill-based and not a random flip. And if we get to the hockey shoot-out, I get the same number of chances to score as the other guy does.
While the English Premier League feels it’s okay to kiss your sister, international soccer doesn’t. Their overtime format may be the fairest of all but rarely does anything happen. In international play, if you can’t slip a few quid in advance to the FIFA officials and the match is deadlocked after ninety minutes, the sides play a thirty minute overtime. While it isn’t sudden death, it might it as well be, because forty-nine out of fifty times one goal will be more than enough. If it’s still deadlocked after the two hours of play, and in attempt to end the scrum before a week from Thursday, the teams advance to a five-shot shootout. Both teams, unlike the NFL gunfight, get to shoot.
The NFL would tell the PGA to change it’s sudden death playoff format and just simplify it. No need to carry an iron, putter or even a golf bag to the extra hole tee box. The player that hits the longest drive wins. That makes it simple for a guy like Jim Furyk, who would never need to leave the clubhouse for the playoff.
And tennis should alter it’s exciting tiebreaker system with a coin toss, too. The winner gets to serve. Ace the other guy and it’s over. Keep going until someone throws an ace. It sure beats the John Isner-Nicolas Mahut fifth set at Wimbledon seven years ago that ended 70-68. The match took eleven hours, played over two days, to complete. The average bloke consumed a dozen Pimms and six Ritalin waiting for that one to mercifully end.
But the powers-that-be on Park Avenue somehow think they’re on to a format that no other sport is. So last Sunday in Houston, because the Pats called ‘heads’ and the coin landed on the side with the Super Bowl logo, Falcons QB Matt Ryan put his helmet back on the bench and the Patriots defense stayed on the sideline snacking on Pappasito’s quesadillas. In a game this big, that’s just not the way to decide a fate that will be with you the rest of your life. And beyond.
Chances are, with momentum the way it was, New England would have won anyway. Atlanta had their opps in regulation and arguably choked them away. But it still should have been settled equitably on the field and not because of referee Carl Chefffer’s flip of the wrist.
But for now, in the National Football League’s rule book, it’s heads-I-win and tails-you-lose.