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 Football changes coming soon? 
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Post Football changes coming soon?
There's a writer at Si who thinks we need to tweak some things in football. Do you agree or is he out of his mind?

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/josh_elliott/05/06/daily.blog/index.html

So there I was, watching the second leg of the Champions League semifinal between Liverpool and Chelsea last Tuesday, when the darndest thing happened. (Not to worry: The NFL portion of the program is coming.) The teams' captains met at midfield, the referee did his usual can't-use-the-hands/none-of-that-diving-#&*#$ chatter ... and then he flipped a coin. Liverpool "won," and, well, chose to run in that direction for the first 45-plus minutes.

And I couldn't help but chuckle. I mean, a coin flip? I suppose they needed some exercise to decide which way was which, and I guess a coin toss is just the sort of public display that primes fans the world over for coming action. But that's all it was: a largely ceremonial act, affecting almost nothing.

And that's when it hit me. I like the NFL as much as the next person, but as that coin was tossed o'er the pond a few days ago, I realized that our game could use some tinkering. Herewith, an octet of tweaks, meant solely to improve:

1. Sudden-death overtime, begun with a coin flip, is no more.
That a coin toss plays even an iota of a role in determining the winner of a tied NFL game is criminal (and inarguable: 58 percent of overtime games end after the toss-winner's initial possession). The toss should be what it was for Liverpool-Chelsea: a pomp-and-circumstance starter, and nothing more. Bottom line: If the game ends in a tie, I say both teams have earned the opportunity to win; after all, neither was quantitatively better than the other for 60 minutes.

The fix: Teams alternate possessions, just as their D-I kid brothers do. But instead of starting at the collegians' chosen spot, the opponent's 25-yard line -- absurdly close, since a team can fail to move the ball an inch and still have a 43-yard field goal try -- each starts at its own 35-yard line. Make an offense mount a drive to score; 40 yards of success (or roughly four first downs) means a team has earned that 43-yarder. And never again will "Tails!" mean a damn thing.

2. No more cut-blocking.
Anybody wonder why it seems that anyone from Pope Benedict XVI to Paula Abdul (or even Maurice Clarett) could rush for 1,000 yards in Denver? The Broncos just happen to be the most proficient -- and yes, most every team's offensive line does it -- at the insidious, shockingly legal move known as the cut-block. However legal, it's a hideous and unsportsmanlike tactic that has left scores of pass rushers maimed, their knees sacrificed to a rule that somehow evades elimination year after year.

The fix: A 15-yard penalty for every cut-block. Goodbye, shameless and potentially career-ending move ... and, however sadly, Paula's Pro Bowl year.

3. The ground can cause a fumble.
This one is courtesy my editor, Jimmy Traina. His point (and mine, after thinking about it): If everything else involved with a tackle can cause a fumble, why not the end of the play, when ball hits ground and squirts loose? After all, the hit itself is just Chapter I of the tackle; how that tackle ends, and what happens when that end is reached, is just as important.

The fix: Reward tackles so powerful that they leave ballcarriers unable to protect the pigskin, even when hitting the turf. Replay would still disallow the punching of the ball from one's grasp after the fact. But if that little piggie squirts out on contact with terra firma, it's a live ball. As an added bonus, each collision would be that much more exciting, and isn't that the point?

4. Pass interference is a 15-yard penalty, max.
This falls under the aegis of the previous tweak -- another bone to throw to increasingly put-upon defenses, who've watched rules changes tip heavily in favor of offenses in recent years, particularly passing offenses. Get within shouting distance of a quarterback? Flag. So much as breathe on a receiver more than five yards off the line of scrimmage? Flag. Even consider hitting a receiver who willingly decided to leave his feet to make a catch over the middle? Flag.

I say the offenses don't need any more help. So why aid them with a penalty that's often a judgment call, particularly in the most pressing situations: on deep throws, during which back judges are desperately trying to keep up with the action, let alone adjudicate it?

The fix: Pass interference within 15 yards goes to the spot of the foul. Pass interference beyond is 15 yards and an automatic first down -- penalizing the defense, without deciding its fate.


5. One foot in bounds is a catch.
On this one, the colleges have it absolutely, unequivocally correct. (Anyone who saw then-Michigan State wideout Charles Rogers' late touchdown grab against Notre Dame in 2002 -- three defenders draped all over him, Rogers somehow rises above them all to make a catch as he's sailing out of the end zone, only to defy laws of physics and somehow, with one foot, reverse momentum mid-air and drag that puppy in-bounds for a miracle touchdown -- knows exactly what I'm talking about.) Those preening, dancing, Sharpie-wielding divas split wide are also the sport's most dazzling athletes; so why legislate their singular ability out of the game? It's called a catch because that's what's important -- the catch. Requiring a certain number of feet in bounds is arbitrary; in this instance, less is inarguably more.

The fix: One foot in counts. And so, to the highlight reels we go ...

6. Force-outs are legal.
The yang to No. 5's yin (and the product of innumerable in-season bull sessions with fellow SI NFL-er Mike Silver), this rule would again level the playing field for defensive backs whose jobs have grown increasingly difficult by the year. Just as a receiver's ability to catch the uncatchable (even with only one foot in play) should be rewarded, so should a pass defender's fundamental responsibility: denying the offense's advance through the air while staying in-bounds.

If a receiver is forced to jump to make a catch near the sideline -- leaving himself vulnerable to a tackle that could force him entirely off the field -- then why penalize the defender for doing what he's supposed to? As it is now, a defender is asked to essentially not do his job on airborne, sideline catches, lest he two-hand-touch his way into a side judge's not-so-certain ruling in the wideout's favor. This rule has always bothered me, if only because it runs so counter to the the game's fundamentals.

The fix: A legal tackle that forces a receiver out of bounds before he lands negates the catch -- regardless of where he would've landed sans contact. Because what might have happened didn't, legally and legitimately.

7. No fair catches.
A favorite of my big boss, SI.com honcho Paul Fichtenbaum, it's a simple suggestion that will inject life into the game without drastically skewing its rhythms. I'm not advocating for the mandatory fielding of punts; if a return man doesn't feel up to the catch, or is less than certain about the wedge in front of him, he's free to let that sucker bounce.

The fix: If he catches it, he's fair game (again, within reason).

8. No color-coded line-of-scrimmage marker on my TV.
Enough already. And I am, by no means, opposed to the technological improvements that television has brought to our viewing experience. Remember how people squawked when FOX had the nerve to cloud our screen with the score/clock/down-and-distance box? Like the cellphone, e-mail and my DVR, I can't imagine life without it now. (How'd we ever make it?) To a lesser degree, I wasn't sure about the CGI first-down stripe ... for about two weeks, after which I'd given my heart to it. (Who hasn't screamed for a ballcarrier to just lean another foot toward the line, forgetting that the thing doesn't actually exist?) But with the line-of-scrimmage stripe, our screen looks increasingly like the drawing my niece made for uncle Josh ... when she was 2.

The fix: Retire the stripe. The picture's Crayola-addled enough as it is ...

And while I figure out what the hubbub regarding Abdul's alleged relationship with a former American Idol contestant is all about -- since her next harsh word for anybody will be her first -- I ask for your suggestions, for an all-Mailbagger version of the above list, coming to a computer screen near you.



I personally like 1,2,4 and 7 the rest should be left alone.


May 9th, 2005, 8:24 am
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1,2,4,6.


The way that the league coddles offenses, and especially quaterbacks, gets on my nerves.

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May 9th, 2005, 9:09 am
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I like 1and 4


May 9th, 2005, 9:31 am
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Post Re: Football changes coming soon?
PT Bruiser wrote:
1. Sudden-death overtime, begun with a coin flip, is no more.


I'm for this. The odds are to good for the winner of the coin toss... Unless your coach is Marty Morningweg.

The best idea I ever heard to resolve this came from Wojo - on WDFN. His idea was that each team have a special teams kickoff and run back - ONLY to determine who goes first in overtime. The farthest runback wins. That's NOT where they start their drive - but only determines who goes first.

I thought that was an ingenious idea.



PT Bruiser wrote:
2. No more cut-blocking.


Agree.

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PT Bruiser wrote:
3. The ground can cause a fumble.


This one I don't agree with for a whole host of reasons. One of which is if the ground can cause the fumble then your own team can recover and advance the fumble. That's crazy. IMO.

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PT Bruiser wrote:
4. Pass interference is a 15-yard penalty, max.


Absolutely - I agree with this.

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PT Bruiser wrote:
5. One foot in bounds is a catch.


Not a chance. In fact college should change to the NFL rules.

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PT Bruiser wrote:
6. Force-outs are legal.


I could go with this.

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PT Bruiser wrote:
7. No fair catches.


I disagree. And if where to agree - it wouldn't be with the stupid fix sugested in this article. That won't work. WTF is 'within reason'!

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PT Bruiser wrote:
8. No color-coded line-of-scrimmage marker on my TV.


I'm indifferent about this - I don't really care. But that blue line marking the puck in hockey... That's another thing.

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------------------------------

Bruiser,

This is a great article to get people to debate over. Good find. Thanks for sharing it.


May 9th, 2005, 9:53 am
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I can't say that I agree with a pass interference penalty being limited to 15 yards is a fair thing to do. I say this for several reasons.

1. How unfair would it be if the following occurs? Charles Rogers gets clear of a defender some thirty yards downfield and has a clean shot to the endzone. The ball is thrown his way and is set to hit him in stride. The defender simply throws himself at Charles feet and the ball soars over Rogers as he falls on his face into the turf. And the penalty is only 15 yards? At least in hockey that would allow for a penalty shot, but there isn't something to simulate that in football.

2. Suppose on this same play Rogers breaks his collarbone (again) :( , then would 15 yards be fair? Would there be a 'flagrant' foul call that would allow for some sort of greater penalty? If not, there should be.

3. Suppose under the same circumstances the penalty takes place in the last two minutes of the game? A spot foul would put the team in a position to score at least a field goal, but the 15 yarder won't. What then?

4. Say the game is tied or less than a 3 point game with under one minute remaining. What then? 15 yards won't cut it. At the end of the game defenses would simply be interfering rather than defending.

Personally I think there could be some revisions to the penalty calling of interference, but they shouldn't just make it a blanket 15 yard call. One could argue that there is no guarantee the receiver would have caught the ball to begin with. True, but if the defender thought enough of the receiver to interfere then the assumption of a catch has been pretty much validated by the defender himself. I can guarantee you this, more receivers would get injured and you can kiss the Hail Mary at the end of the halves good bye.

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May 9th, 2005, 11:20 am
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m2karateman wrote:
I can't say that I agree with a pass interference penalty being limited to 15 yards is a fair thing to do. I say this for several reasons.

1. How unfair would it be if the following occurs? Donald Driver gets clear of Dre Bly some thirty yards downfield and has a clean shot to the endzone. The ball is thrown his way and is set to hit him in stride. Dre simply throws himself at Donalds feet and the ball soars over Driver as he falls on his face into the turf. And the penalty is only 15 yards? At least in hockey that would allow for a penalty shot, but there isn't something to simulate that in football.

2. Suppose on this same play Driver breaks his collarbone, then would 15 yards be fair? Would there be a 'flagrant' foul call that would allow for some sort of greater penalty?

3. Suppose under the same circumstances the penalty takes place in the last two minutes of the game? A spot foul would put the team in a position to score at least a field goal, but the 15 yarder won't. What then?

4. Say the game is tied or less than a 3 point game with under one minute remaining. What then? 15 yards won't cut it. At the end of the game defenses would simply be interfering rather than defending.

Personally I think there could be some revisions to the penalty calling of interference, but they shouldn't just make it a blanket 15 yard call. One could argue that there is no guarantee the receiver would have caught the ball to begin with. True, but if the defender thought enough of the receiver to interfere then the assumption of a catch has been pretty much validated by the defender himself. I can guarantee you this, more receivers would get injured and you can kiss the Hail Mary at the end of the halves good bye.




I've replaced Charles Rogers with our arch rival Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver...

Do you still feel the same way?

I say it's the same for both teams and therefore doesn't matter - they both have to play under the same rules.

However where your argument is most valid (to me) is in the hail Mary senario. And I agree with you that would be an issue.

I would be willing to leave the rule the same PROVIDED that pass interferance was reviewable under instant replay. It's not and as a result we have one penalty that can change an entire game.


May 9th, 2005, 11:57 am
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LionFan57 wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
I can't say that I agree with a pass interference penalty being limited to 15 yards is a fair thing to do. I say this for several reasons.

1. How unfair would it be if the following occurs? Donald Driver gets clear of Dre Bly some thirty yards downfield and has a clean shot to the endzone. The ball is thrown his way and is set to hit him in stride. Dre simply throws himself at Donalds feet and the ball soars over Driver as he falls on his face into the turf. And the penalty is only 15 yards? At least in hockey that would allow for a penalty shot, but there isn't something to simulate that in football.

2. Suppose on this same play Driver breaks his collarbone, then would 15 yards be fair? Would there be a 'flagrant' foul call that would allow for some sort of greater penalty?

3. Suppose under the same circumstances the penalty takes place in the last two minutes of the game? A spot foul would put the team in a position to score at least a field goal, but the 15 yarder won't. What then?

4. Say the game is tied or less than a 3 point game with under one minute remaining. What then? 15 yards won't cut it. At the end of the game defenses would simply be interfering rather than defending.


I've replaced Charles Rogers with our arch rival Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver...

Do you still feel the same way?

I say it's the same for both teams and therefore doesn't matter - they both have to play under the same rules.

However where your argument is most valid (to me) is in the hail Mary senario. And I agree with you that would be an issue.

I would be willing to leave the rule the same PROVIDED that pass interferance was reviewable under instant replay. It's not and as a result we have one penalty that can change an entire game.


My response is yes, I would feel the same way if the situation were as you described it. I agree that both teams have to play under the same rules. But the fact is a team shouldn't have their capability of the quick strike deep pass taken away because of a penalty which doesn't justify the foul. In the case of hockey's penalty shot, they are in effect re-enacting the situation with some modifications. In the case of pass interference the same thing should occur. The difference is that if a player has cleared the defender and the pass is on target that player will likely score. Spot fouls can't just give them a touchdown. But at least it will put them in better position than just 15 yards. As I said, with less than a minute left in a game with a team down by seven or less, the defense will just commit pass interference rather than allow a big play.

I understand that many fans are tired of defenses, particularly in the secondary, having the league adopt 'hands off' penalties which seem unfair. I agree with some of those sentiments. However, I don't feel that those 'unfair' penalties should be offset by adopting revisions to the pass interference penalty and make it 'unfair' in critical situations.

I wouldn't be adverse to having some sort of rules changes where the interference is no longer a 'judgement' call and is subject to review. But I wouldn't change the penalty value that goes with the call.

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May 9th, 2005, 12:54 pm
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I don't disagree with a thing you said and the problem with football is there is really no way to reenact the play as in hockey. (Which a reason to like football more than hockey).

I think the crux of the problem is not so much the penalty on the foul but rather no ability to review it. To many games have turned on questionable pass interference calls (offensively and defensively for that matter).

It's just a very severe penalty when in fact the receiver might not have caught the ball anyway.


May 9th, 2005, 1:38 pm
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I agree that there have been too many instances that games have been changed as the result of interference calls. Some of those calls have been questionable at best. That's exactly why there should be a review on those calls. Unfortunately the NFL supports the officials and they don't want to get made to look bad. But too many times have I seen an official call interference where the receiver had little to no chance of catching the ball. Then a few plays later it seems like there should be a call, and the ref just looks the other way. Makes me wonder about these guys.........

However, games have changed because of other calls as well. How many times has a holding penalty killed a TD run for the Lions, and upon review the call was bogus? Yet another situation where 'judgement' allows for the officials to get involved when they shouldn't. Even some of the calls for roughing the QB or kicker are pretty questionable. But anything involving human 'judgement' will always be questioned.

I agree that at times the penalty of interference can seem overly severe. But few other penalties impact the game the same because of the nature of the pass play. As I said previously, if the receiver may not catch the pass, why is the defender interfering then? The assumption has to be that the receiver would have caught the ball. There are times when holding is called away from the play on a run. Should they eliminate that as well? The player held would not have likely been able to make the tackle. So why penalize the offense for it? If they are going to penalize the offense 10 yards from the spot of the foul, why not penalize the defense 10 yards from the spot of the foul on interference?

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May 9th, 2005, 2:00 pm
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LionFan57 wrote:
m2karateman wrote:
I can't say that I agree with a pass interference penalty being limited to 15 yards is a fair thing to do. I say this for several reasons.

1. How unfair would it be if the following occurs? Donald Driver gets clear of Dre Bly some thirty yards downfield and has a clean shot to the endzone. The ball is thrown his way and is set to hit him in stride. Dre simply throws himself at Donalds feet and the ball soars over Driver as he falls on his face into the turf. And the penalty is only 15 yards? At least in hockey that would allow for a penalty shot, but there isn't something to simulate that in football.

2. Suppose on this same play Driver breaks his collarbone, then would 15 yards be fair? Would there be a 'flagrant' foul call that would allow for some sort of greater penalty?

3. Suppose under the same circumstances the penalty takes place in the last two minutes of the game? A spot foul would put the team in a position to score at least a field goal, but the 15 yarder won't. What then?

4. Say the game is tied or less than a 3 point game with under one minute remaining. What then? 15 yards won't cut it. At the end of the game defenses would simply be interfering rather than defending.

Personally I think there could be some revisions to the penalty calling of interference, but they shouldn't just make it a blanket 15 yard call. One could argue that there is no guarantee the receiver would have caught the ball to begin with. True, but if the defender thought enough of the receiver to interfere then the assumption of a catch has been pretty much validated by the defender himself. I can guarantee you this, more receivers would get injured and you can kiss the Hail Mary at the end of the halves good bye.




I've replaced Charles Rogers with our arch rival Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver...

Do you still feel the same way?

I say it's the same for both teams and therefore doesn't matter - they both have to play under the same rules.

However where your argument is most valid (to me) is in the hail Mary senario. And I agree with you that would be an issue.

I would be willing to leave the rule the same PROVIDED that pass interferance was reviewable under instant replay. It's not and as a result we have one penalty that can change an entire game.


OK, You changed my mind. No 15 yard max penalty. Keep #4 the way it is!!


May 10th, 2005, 7:33 am
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Post Re: Football changes coming soon?
LionFan57 wrote:
PT Bruiser wrote:
1. Sudden-death overtime, begun with a coin flip, is no more.


I'm for this. The odds are to good for the winner of the coin toss... Unless your coach is Marty Morningweg.

The best idea I ever heard to resolve this came from Wojo - on WDFN. His idea was that each team have a special teams kickoff and run back - ONLY to determine who goes first in overtime. The farthest runback wins. That's NOT where they start their drive - but only determines who goes first.

I thought that was an ingenious idea.


I totally disagree, Wojo is on the radio for entertainment purposes only. That show is all about gimmics anyway. This would be a gimmic. I think Wojo was watching to much XFL :!:

Remeber, to start the game, instead of a coin toss you would have two players race to the ball and whoever recovered it that team would get the choice of receiving or kicking off. Likewise, if you have kickoff returns as a way of who gets the ball then you set yourself up for injury for something that has no outcome on the game.

I think they should try something like the college level. Just start on your own 35 or so.


May 10th, 2005, 7:40 am
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Post Re: Football changes coming soon?
PT Bruiser wrote:
LionFan57 wrote:
PT Bruiser wrote:
1. Sudden-death overtime, begun with a coin flip, is no more.


I'm for this. The odds are to good for the winner of the coin toss... Unless your coach is Marty Morningweg.

The best idea I ever heard to resolve this came from Wojo - on WDFN. His idea was that each team have a special teams kickoff and run back - ONLY to determine who goes first in overtime. The farthest runback wins. That's NOT where they start their drive - but only determines who goes first.

I thought that was an ingenious idea.


I totally disagree, Wojo is on the radio for entertainment purposes only. That show is all about gimmics anyway. This would be a gimmic. I think Wojo was watching to much XFL :!:

Remeber, to start the game, instead of a coin toss you would have two players race to the ball and whoever recovered it that team would get the choice of receiving or kicking off. Likewise, if you have kickoff returns as a way of who gets the ball then you set yourself up for injury for something that has no outcome on the game.

I think they should try something like the college level. Just start on your own 35 or so.



I'm sorry you disagree.

The fact that Wojo is on the air for entertainment is irrelevant to the fact that I think it's a good idea. (In fact it's such a good idea I wished I'd claimed it as mine - but someone would have called me out on it. And I'd have to live with the shame).

Remember, it's not to start the game but rather to determine who gets the ball first in overtime. So therefore "...set yourself up for injury for something that has no outcome on the game" isn't close to accurate. It has everything to do with the outcome of the game because of the odds of winning are so stacked in favor of the first team to possess the ball. Who wants to play 60 minutes of football only to have the outcome decided (at least in part) by a coin toss? Would you rather have something random and mundane determine who gets the ball first, OR, the talent of the team itself?

I agree the XFL stuff is stupid and I don't like the college system at all.


May 10th, 2005, 8:06 am
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I'd rather each team have an equal chance of winning. If they made it to overtime, they are probably about they same talent level. I think the only thing wrong with the college system is that they are too close to the goal line.

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May 10th, 2005, 8:16 am
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bsand2053 wrote:
I'd rather each team have an equal chance of winning. If they made it to overtime, they are probably about they same talent level. I think the only thing wrong with the college system is that they are too close to the goal line.



In the Wojo system each team has an equal chance of winning.

Step by step:

1) Each team kicks off to the other one time.

2) Measure distance of runbacks.

3) The farthest run back determines who gets the ball first.

4) The losing team of the runback contest kicks off again to the winning team of the runback contest...

5) ...Thus begins your overtime.

Having 2 runbacks is:

A) MUCH more exciting than a coin toss.

B) Lets the talent of the teams determine the first overtime possession instead of a random coin toss.

C) Puts a premium on the special teams game which is to often overlooked in the NFL (and BTY, something that the Lions excel at).


I don't understand whats not to like in this system.


May 10th, 2005, 9:12 am
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Quote:
Would you rather have something random and mundane determine who gets the ball first, OR, the talent of the team itself?


That is what I meant. The way I interpreted the sentence is that the team with more talent should get the ball first.

Quote:
B) Lets the talent of the teams determine the first overtime possession instead of a random coin toss.


I understand now what you ment by talent.

Whats not to like?

IMO, it is too much like the XFL. Also, it doesn't make sense to me to determine with a play where someone could get seriously injured what a cointoss does. It doesn't address the problem that both teams don't get a chance. Just my opinions. :P

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May 10th, 2005, 2:56 pm
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