Three Reasons the NFL Should Forego Ties

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement
2) With the new overtime rules, ties will start to occur at a higher rate
3) No longer could a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Remember this game?

In probably my favorite basketball game of all time, the Connecticut Huskies and Syracuse Orange men’s basketball teams went to an unrealistic six overtimes in a 2009 thriller at Madison Square Garden. One of those games that, according to the laws of sports, is illegal to turn off.

Now obviously, football will never see a six overtime game. It would require a shutout by both teams for almost three halves. I like the rule changes (click here for all changes) the NFL has instilled, but I say take it a step further. If the score is tied at the end of overtime, play until the tie is broken.

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement

Overtime or extra innings are one of the few ways to scratch deep enough to see the true heart of every player and team. When you’ve played so long that the unanimous thought is, “Well, if I’m gonna play for this long, I’d better win.”

It’s the purest form of sports. When every player is focused solely on winning, not money, not girls, not any outside force.

At the human brink of exhaustion, “I’ll bet I can last longer and play harder than you,” is fun to watch from the outside. Regardless of the outcome, a double overtime football game would headline all sports talk the following day.

It’s why I hold true that sports are the ultimate reality television. The NBA didn’t give scripts to Reggie Miller and Spike Lee or Magic and Larry.

You want to see the human body in its truest and purest form of determination? Show me Ray Lewis and the Ravens against Roethlisberger and the Steelers to start the third overtime.

2) With the new overtime rules, ties occur at a higher rate

You may not like ties. I don’t, and neither did the NHL. Hockey cut ties with ties (intended) after the 2005 lockout to a world of success. The excitement was higher and the conclusions became more fun to watch.

Think of any book or TV show you ever enjoyed. Imagine the book ending before the climax.

Yes, hockey gets ties at higher rates, but I think it’s wrong to cut any sports game off before it has been decided.

The new NFL rules will generate more ties because the game no longer ends simply when one team has scored. How many ties will it take before the fans get mad?  The NHL fans hit their limit about eight years ago. I believe NFL fans will hit theirs once they realize there are now multiple ties a year, not one every four.

3) No longer can a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Imagine this scenario:

The Giants and Eagles are both 9-6, playing for the final NFC playoff spot in the final game of the regular season. It’s Monday Night Football. The Giants beat the Eagles earlier in the year, but the Eagles would own the tiebreaker with a win.

Giants get to the playoffs with a win or tie.
Eagles get to the playoffs with a win only.

After a big interception at the two minute warning in overtime, the Giants find themselves backed up at their own five-yard line. The Eagles have no timeouts, and New York kneels the ball three times to secure their playoff spot.

I don’t think that’s the “right” way to settle a game so important. Herm Edwards is right: You play to win the game. I don’t think sports should ever put a team in a situation where that’s not necessarily the case.

Yes, injuries are the downside of multiple overtimes. And with the concussion mess the NFL finds themselves in, I don’t believe the timing is right to instill additional risk.

But in the worst case scenario where doctors discover a heavy link between almost all NFL players and concussions, the sport will not stop anywhere in the near future. You can’t tell a kid he can’t play football.

On the professional level, players will not take themselves out of a double overtime game because they risk a concussion. The players want to play. The fans want more football. Advertisers want more air time and the NFL wants more money.

All variables considered, the NFL should flirt with a rules change. Make regular season games like playoff ones. No winner has been decided after 75 minutes? Keep going. You play to win the game.

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