Overtime changes discussed

Times Staff Writer

The NFL’s overtime system isn’t perfectly fair -- on that, most coaches, owners and executives agree.

What they can’t agree on is how to fix it.

The latest proposal involved moving the overtime kickoff up five yards to the 35 in hopes of mitigating the advantage the receiving team now seems to have. But there weren’t enough votes Wednesday to push that measure through, so the idea was tabled until at least the May meetings.

“I think everybody thinks [overtime] is not quite equitable,” Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy said. “But the solutions we’ve come up with, when you really look at them, aren’t necessarily better.”


In the interest of finding the fairest, most efficient way to conduct overtime, the league has weighed several options over the years. There’s the college system of giving each team at least one possession. But the NFL sees that affecting how aggressive teams will be at the end of regulation, and it could lengthen games.

Likewise, picking the game up where regulation ended -- as if overtime were a typical quarter change -- surely would alter decision making down the stretch.

Moving the kickoff up, the latest suggestion, takes special teams out of the mix. For instance, the Chicago Bears argued Wednesday that they spent a lot of money on star returner Devin Hester, so why should they allow his role to be reduced with a touchback in overtime?

Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee, said it could be next to impossible to find a solution that pleases everyone.

“In the short term, I think it’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “We’re a league that requires 24 votes [out of 32] and I think that’s a good thing. But it makes the standards very difficult when you come to a situation that has got different points of view.”


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is still formulating a league conduct policy for players, will meet Saturday with Cincinnati’s Chris Henry and Tennessee’s Adam “Pacman” Jones, both of whom have run afoul of the law several times in recent months.

“We’re not trying to send a signal here,” Goodell said. “We’re not trying to make an example of people. We’re trying to protect the integrity of the National Football League.”

Goodell spoke at length with owners, coaches and executives this week about adopting a stricter discipline policy, one that probably will penalize offenders even before their legal situations have run their course. He said those discussions will factor into the new policy, which he plans to have in place within the next 10 days and certainly before next month’s draft.

He said meeting with Henry and Jones will enable him to “get their perspective, look them in the eye and get them thinking.”


Owners approved a new five-yard penalty for players who spike the ball in celebration after making a play other than a touchdown. Not only is it poor sportsmanship, they said, but a time-wasting hassle for officials who have to chase down the ball to put it in place for the next snap.