Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NFL to Kickers: Go to Hell!

If you’re a Saints fan or are paid a lot of money to kick a pigskin, you should be very offended by the latest travesty to come out of Roger Goodell’s NFL.

The league voted on Tuesday to change the overtime rules for playoff games, in which scoring first after the end of regulation may not be good enough to win a post-season game.

With the change, if the team wins the coin toss in overtime, opts receives the ball first and then scores a field goal, they must then kick the ball back to their opponent and stop them from scoring in order to win.

But if the team receiving the ball back from the team that made a field goal on their first possession scores a field goal, then they must kick the ball back to their oppoent. The team receiving the ball back could then win the game with a score, field goal or touchdown. If neither team scores on their first possession then the original “score first/sudden death” rules apply.

Further denigrating the value of kickers and field goals, the first team in overtime to score a touchdown or safety would win the game.

It seems the NFL owners have succeeded in conjuring up an inane rules “adjustment” that only rivals in absurdity the American League’s designated hitter.

I am a big fan of simplicity and there’s nothing more basic than being the first to score. Kind of like a gladiator match: whoever dies first loses.

But the NFL owners, who have perfected the art of extracting blood from a turnip and millions from cash-strapped state legislatures, figured out another way of making a few more bucks by potentially extending playoff games (and thus advertising time) with a rule that makes about as much sense as “fizbin” (see Star Trek).

And of course, the NFL owners felt a need to take quick action on playoff overtime rules not long after the New Orleans Saints advanced to the Super Bowl after Hartley booted the game winning field goal in overtime.

Considering the timing, it’s reasonable for Saints fans (who already have “crevasses” on their shoulders) to infer that this is a reaction to the 2010 NFC championship game.

The NFL owners cited the increasing accuracy of kickers as being a reason for the change, though the new rule diminishes the roles of kickers, both those who split the uprights and those who try to put kickoffs into the end zone, as players who simply “extend play” as opposed to winning not just the big games but the biggest games.
Don’t think field goals matter and that they’re automatic points? Just ask former Buffalo Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood about the importance of connecting a big kick in post-season.

Norwood’s wide right in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXV cost his team the Lombardi Trophy and inspired the plot of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, launching Jim Carrey’s acting career.

No miss by Norwood; no Dumb and Dumber; no millions of dollars in Carrey’s checking account; no Jenny McCarthy waking up next to him in bed in the mornings.

Don’t say field goals don’t matter.

Kickers are an important part of a team. The Saints missed out the playoffs in the 2007 and 2008 seasons largely because of problems with their kicking game despite having one of the top overall offenses in the NFL. And the Saints won a Super Bowl thanks in no small part to their kicking game, when punter Thomas Morstead flawlessly executed the on-side kick to open the second half. And they wouldn’t have gotten there without Garrett Hartley’s big kick.

And I should add that it was a missed chipshot in Washington by since fired Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham that contributed to the Saints earning home field advantage in the playoffs.

Somewhere, in their greed and resentment of not having the Manning-Favre Superbowl they wanted, the owners forgot that the game is called FOOTball not PASSball.

Props to the Purple People and a Handful of Others

The Minnesota Vikings, the very team “victimized” by Hartley in the NFC Championship, voted against the rule change as did the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Ravens.
Insanely amazingly, the Saints voted for the change.


  1. A simple fix would have been, for OT, to move the kickoff spot back to the 35 yard line like before 1994. The stats for OT from the pre-94 era showed that the winner of the coin toss had a roughly 50% chance of winning the game, whereas afterwards the chances improved quite a bit. It's because of the return yardage. THAT would have been a very simple fix. Why that wasn't considered?