It was happening again in the National Football League, and happening to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers again, at University of Phoenix Stadium, a billion-dollar industry coming down to the flip of a coin that wasn’t even a real coin, and making you once again want to scream, “Why don’t they just use a flipping quarter?”
It wasn’t just a billion-dollar industry, one where these on-the-make owners are willing to spend half-a-billion just to move to Los Angeles, coming down to a coin flip. It was the football season in Green Bay, and the football season in Arizona. The overtime rule in the NFL, at least as it applies to the postseason, is one that seems to have been conceived by people who played the game without helmets. Or even with them.
Forget that the official tossing the coin needed two tries to get it right. Even then Rodgers thought the guy had gotten it wrong. All that matters is this: For the second playoff season in a row, Rodgers loses his season without ever getting a chance to touch the ball after his team ties the game at the end of regulation. There really is no dumber rule in sports than this one, in a sport that sometimes confuses bigger and richer and popular with smarter.
This isn’t the regular season, and the need to resolve these overtime games so that the great god television can keep the line moving. This is the postseason, when there is no good reason why they can’t play a fifth quarter, or a sixth, if need be. Maybe they’re worried that this is World Cup soccer, and the two teams will play forever without a resolution. Only it’s not World Cup soccer, it’s the NFL, where they’ve done everything possible to get scores like they get when it’s TCU against Texas Tech.
Here is what Rodgers said about Clete Blakeman’s redo of the coin flip because the coin didn’t flip: “Clete had it on heads. He was showing heads, so I called tails, and it didn’t flip. It just tossed up in the air and did not turn over at all. It landed in the ground. So we obviously thought that was not right.
“He picked the coin up and flipped it to tails, and then he flipped it without giving me a chance to make a recall there. It was confusing.”
It was confusing. What is more confusing is that the NFL operates a system where maybe its best player, Rodgers, loses a second season in a row because of a coin flip. If Game 7 in the next NBA Finals is tied at the end of regulation, let’s give the ball to the Warriors if they win the toss. If Steph Curry makes a three-point jumper, LeBron doesn’t even get a chance to get the ball back.
Last year it was Russell Wilson taking the Seahawks down the field and Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz. it was Carson Palmer throwing one to Larry Fitzgerald, who looked as if he wanted to run all the way to Tucson before he finally ended up in the end zone one play later. The Cardinals moved on to the NFC Championship Game, the Packers went home.
Of course all these analogies break down eventually, but imagine if in the World Series, extra innings came down to a coin flip, and only one team got to bat.
Again: You can see why they don’t want to play another hour in the regular season, with other games about to begin. But this isn’t the regular season.
What could possibly be wrong with playing another quarter in January, or in the Super Bowl? Or would you like to tell me another championship season, in anything, that comes down to something as frivolous as one roll of the dice.
That coin toss in Arizona was a slapstick late Saturday night, slapstick that had no place in what might turn out to be the great drama of the playoffs, after Rodgers had made the greatest throw you will ever see, even greater than the Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers at Ford Field during the regular season. He was running to his left this time, and falling backward as if shooting a fadeway jumper, only it wasn’t a jumper, it was a throw that went half the field and ended up in the hands of Jeff Janis and tied the game.
That was a moment of grace and athleticism and the ability to play your best in your sport’s biggest moments, and do something that will always be
remembered. Then the whole thing was taken out of Rodgers’ hands and out of Janis’ hands and put in Clete Blakeman’s hands.
And then for the second year in a row, Rodgers watches the game end and his team’s season end without getting back into the game himself. If the Competition Committee is actually worried about the integrity of its sport, and not merely saving face, it can’t ever happen again. Hand the ref a quarter next time. And then tell everybody to play at least one more.
- Athletic directors may change overtime rules
- Prep administrators adopt new OT rule for state football
- Kartje: How NFL changed the rules to keep kickoffs from going away
- “Good example of democratic change”
- How the Supreme Court is changing the rules on voting
- Barber says voter support critical to bringing needed change
- How The NFL's New Helmet Rule Could Change Football As We Know It
- New England Patriots S Devin McCourty reacts to NFL's 'dumb' anthem rule, proposes alternate solution
- Trump swayed NFL owners on anthem rules, Kaepernick case depositions reveal
- ‘How To Deselect Your Labour MP’ Online Guide Triggers Row Amid Fresh Moves By Corbyn Supporters To Change Party Rules