I'll get to what Mark Bradley wrote in a minute, but first we all have to pay attention to Bill Plaschke and his opinion on overtime in the NFL. His opinion is important after all, because he appears on ESPN and yells into a camera with said opinion using a slight lisp. The rule as always on ESPN is, "thou who yells the loudest shall be heard the most and get more air time," hence guys like Bill Plaschke get to appear on "Around the Horn" as much as they want. Who really cares if Plaschke mostly writes puff pieces about elderly baseball scouts and rarely has an opinion that is interesting? He is on ESPN, so that means we should pay attention to what he thinks about overtime in the NFL.
The title of this wonderful piece of literature? "It's hard to make heads or tails of NFL's overtime rule."
Get it? The NFL's overtime starts with a coin flip to determine possession of the football. A coin has a "heads" side and a "tails" side, so the title is a play on words! Who said creative journalism is dead? I don't necessarily disagree overtime needs a few changes, but I don't like Plaschke's reasoning for it.
I know many times columnist don't write their own headlines, but I am not sure I could have my picture below a title that is a play on words like this one. At some point, there has to be self respect present. Of course Plaschke also has his picture in black and white on the LA Times site so you can't notice his white facial hair. At first glance if you haven't seen him on television you would think he has a growth on his face near the bottom, but at a closer glance it's just his facial hair.
On to the "column..."
The truth was hard to hear amid a Superdome din, difficult to see through French Quarter tears, impossible to reckon immediately after what felt like one of the most deserved victories in NFL history.
This was one paragraph. Bill Plaschke writes sports columns like they are written in the form of children's books.
(Page 1) "The Superdome was very loud."
(Page 2) "The Vikings were sad because they lost."
(Page 3) "The Vikings felt the rules weren't fair and told the Saints this."
(Page 4) "The Saints did not care because they had won the game."
(Page 5) "This made the Vikings sad."
(Page 6) "Brett Favre threatened to retire."
Two days later, though, it's still there, pounding like a hangover, reeking like a Bourbon Street back alley.
The imagery. I feel like I am reading Michael Connelly's latest best seller right now. The imagery is vivid.
Two days later, the truth is staring in the face of a league too shrouded in 36 years of silly tradition to see it.
So far there have been three sentences and three paragraphs. This is just what you expect when you read a Bill Plaschke column.
That great victory by the New Orleans Saints against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday night?
It wasn't fair.
That was two separate paragraphs. I would also like to add that life is not fair and the Vikings are big boys and will get over it. If you turn the ball over 7 times you can't expect to win a football game. Especially an NFC Championship Game. I think it says something about this in the Bible somewhere.
The Saints won during an overtime period in which the Vikings never touched the ball.
The Vikings never touched the ball because the Vikings defense couldn't prevent the Saints from scoring. Offense isn't the only part of a football game, there is also defense and special teams. Just ask the Cardinals, they lost the coin flip in the playoffs and still won the game. There offense didn't touch the ball either, so it's possible to win a game and not get the ball first.
That being said, I am not a huge fan of the current overtime system.
Only in the NFL can a game be decided by an extension of play in which both teams might not have an equal chance to score.
Actually, there is sudden death overtime in soccer and hockey as well. I realize the possessions are different in these sports, but in hockey if a player is in the penalty box at the end of regulation he is still in the box during overtime, so the game will be decided when both teams don't have an equal chance to score.
Only in the NFL can a game be contested for three hours by two full teams, then be decided in 10 minutes by only half of each team.
Really in the NFL aren't there a bunch of games that are decided by only half of each team? If a team has a terrible defense or offense, while the other team doesn't, the game will most likely be decided by only that half of the team. This is the reason a General Manager and head coach tries to build the best rounded team possible, so if the defense has to stop the opposing team's offense they can. Or if the special teams needs to give the opposing team bad field position they can. Heck, a lot of teams make the playoffs based on some good luck or a favorable schedule they had during that year. Everything in the NFL is not controllable.
My argument would be that both teams have had 60 minutes to score as many points as they could, what good is giving each side one possession guaranteed going to do? A defense should be able to stop an offense just as easily as an offense should be able to score on a defense. I would bet more often a defense stops an offense from scoring than an offense scores on a defense. I doubt an offense scores a field goal or a touchdown on more than 50% of their possessions.
The NFL calls it sudden death, but that's true only for the loser of the coin toss. For the winner of that toss, it's instant life.
I won't argue the winner of the coin toss has an advantage, these statistics from 2004 show over the period of 1974-2003 that the winner of the coin toss won the game 52% of the time. This article says that 30% of the time a team lost the coin toss and then ended up never touching the ball. I am not going to say those numbers aren't statistically significant, but it's not quite the overwhelming evidence that Plaschke tries to play it off as to where ANY TIME a team loses the coin toss they lose the game. The team who is on defense does have a shot at stopping the other team's offense.
Not to dull the justified buzz of the Saints' 31-28 victory, but, well, you saw it.
Yes, I did see the Saints turn the ball over 7 times including having the ball intercepted at the end of regulation when they could have advanced the ball a few yards and attempted a game winning kick. I saw this game.
The Vikings, you'll recall, lost the overtime coin toss, kicked to the Saints, absorbed a 40-yard kickoff return by Pierre Thomas, then watched the Saints drive all of 39 yards before Garrett Hartley won it with a 40-yard field goal.
Whose fault was the 40-yard kickoff return? The NFL's fault. Or maybe the coin flip's fault. If not the NFL or the coin flip's fault, it certainly wasn't the Vikings special teams fault, that's for sure.
I am not a fan of the current overtime system and I think it could use some tweaks (yes, I would be pissed if my favorite team lost a game where they didn't touch the ball in overtime), but the Vikings did more to hurt their chances to win the game than the NFL's policy of having a coin flip ever did. If the Vikings special teams had played better, perhaps Pierre Thomas would not have gotten such a long return. Special teams are a part of the game as well.
In a game of offense and defense, why does the overtime period not involve both teams' offense and defense?
Actually football is a game of offense, defense and special teams. All the facets of a football game made an appearance in the overtime except for the Vikings offense and Saints defense. So 66% of the facets of each team made an appearance in the overtime. If the Vikings offense and special teams had played well, the Vikings offense could have gotten the ball back. It sucks for the Vikings and I do feel bad for their fans. There is no doubt the NFL's overtime needs a little tweaking.
Certainly, while watching the Saints drive toward victory, it was easy to say, "Well, Favre ended the game by throwing the interception, he deserves to watch."
I am not saying the Saints should have been punished for having turnovers, but they did blow a ton of opportunities to win the game. Most likely, if the Vikings have half the turnovers they had they would be in the Super Bowl right now.
But he was watching only because his team called "heads" and the coin showed "tails." He was never given a final chance to win this dramatic, drawn-out game of skill because his team lost a five-second game of chance.
Favre was not watching ONLY because of the coin flip. He was a part of the road that led the Vikings to not winning the game in regulation. Really, Favre didn't need a final chance because the Vikings offense had been given multiple chances. Yes, the NFL should change the overtime rule, but I think the Vikings-Saints game is a bad game to look at and determine the coin flip is what screwed the loser out of winning the game.
"I actually think you should give the other team a possession," Dan Marino, Hall of Fame quarterback, said Tuesday on a CBS conference call. "Especially [with] Brett Favre.
If it were Kyle Orton or Chad Henne he wouldn't deserve a possession in overtime, but since it is Brett Favre he is special enough to where he especially deserves a chance to redeem himself.
Sharpe took the popular view that if an NFL defense can't stop its opponent on the first overtime possession, then that team doesn't deserve to win.
"Fairness doesn't happen in professional sports . . . These are grown men. . . . I need [Vikings end] Jared Allen, the third-highest-paid defensive player in the league, to step up for me and make a play," Sharpe said.
Like most things in this world, the harder we all try to make something more fair, the less fair it will end up being. Also, Shannon Sharpe has a point. Defensive players get paid a lot of money for a reason, to play defense well, and defense is a part of the game like offense. So I can see how those in favor of the current overtime system may have a point, though the coin flip issue still bothers me. If the NFL doesn't want to overhaul the entire overtime, the coin flip should be done at the beginning of the game so the teams can game plan accordingly.
It's one thing to have respected former NFL stars and commentators arguing about player performance or coaching decisions. But here, two weeks before the Super Bowl, and they're arguing about a rule?
It's a dead week for the NFL. There is very little else to talk about since coaches are not getting fired and there is really nothing else exciting happening.
It is often difficult to get 24 of 32 owners to agree on anything, but shouldn't changing this rule be the easiest decision since allowing shoulder pads?
Bill Plaschke is such an idiot sometimes. This is from earlier in this column:
I asked the question on the Super Bowl preview conference call, and immediately the network's three pregame experts began debating it. Marino wants the rule changed. Shannon Sharpe does not. Boomer Esiason seemed uncertain.
So Plaschke asked three football experts what they thought and none of them could agree on the solution, but he seems to think 75% of the current NFL owners could agree on a proposal to fix overtime? Obviously, just from Plaschke's own small sample size it is shows that figuring out how to do overtime isn't an easy decision to agree upon.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the rule's inception in 1974, the winner of the coin toss has won 239 times in 445 games, a 54% rate.
However, around 70% of those victories came by field goals, which means not only can overtime be played without one team's offense, but it can be played with only a fraction of the other team's offense.
What? How the hell did overtime get played with only a fraction of the other team's offense? Is Plaschke trying to tell me 70% of 239 games ended with a kickoff and then a made field goal without the winning team's offense running a play? Because that's exactly what he is saying by stating the game was won with a fraction of the other team's offense. Simply because a game ended with a field goal doesn't mean the entire offense of the team that won didn't play in overtime. At some point the offense got the field goal kicker in position to kick the game-winning field goal, so I don't see what Plaschke is saying here.
If a team that wins the coin toss scores, then that team kicks off to the other team for its one shot. If the team that wins the toss is stopped, the other team simply takes over and they play until someone scores.
This is Plaschke's idea to fix overtime. Again, what happens if both teams score? Is there another round where each team gets a shot or does it go to sudden death at this point? If it goes to sudden death, we all know my feelings on this, and if each team gets another shot, then Plascke is pretty much suggesting the college system of overtime.
Think the Saints would have played for only a field goal if they knew Favre would get the ball back? Think Drew Brees would have been the winning quarterback by throwing for just 21 yards on the final drive?
How many yards Drew Brees threw for in overtime has nothing to do with whether the current overtime system works or not. Throwing the football is not the measure of whether a team deserves to win a game or not.
"They're not going to change the rules until it happens in the Super Bowl," said Marino.
He's right. Only when the worst rule in American sports is exposed on American sports' biggest stage will it finally die. Can you imagine?
Saints: "We really want this Super Bowl championship."
Colts: "Fine, we'll flip you for it."
I like how Bill Plaschke is pretending there wasn't 60 minutes of football played prior to the coin flip in overtime where each team had a chance to outscore the other team. He just conveniently ignores this little fact. I don't necessarily fully like the current overtime system, but there has never been a time when anyone can really agree on how overtime should be set up to make it more "fair." Mostly, Bill Plaschke sucks at writing.
-Now to Mark Bradley, last year I covered a blog entry he had where he bemoaned Brett Favre's retirement last summer...and not because he missed Favre, but because he wanted him to stay gone and knew he wouldn't. This was what I wrote covering his article/blog posting then. (My favorite part is when Gene Wojciechowski is defending the team around Favre, saying he didn't have weapons to work with...these are the same weapons a rookie QB took to the AFC Championship Game. I know the Jets defense was better and Sanchez played worse than Favre, but they are still the same weapons...outside of Braylon Edwards and is he really a "weapon?")
Mark Bradley is one of my favorite sports columnists. I don't always agree with him but he backs up some of his wild and crazy ideas and statements with some sort of proof, which is all I can really ask. This is Bradley feeling vindicated.
I’d been hearing it lately: “Ready to admit you were wrong about Favre?” And I admit I was almost – almost, I said — wavering. The man I’d described as the most overrated athlete of our time had had a brilliant regular season. I didn’t see that coming.
I don't think anyone saw the season Brett Favre had coming. I did not back down and say I was wrong about Favre, because I knew he would give me more ammunition at some point.
And now he stood one game from a Super Bowl, and the thought of a two-week ESPN Favre-fest was enough to turn my stomach.
Millions of American's stomachs instantly felt better when the idea of ESPN not being able to ram Favre down our throat for an entire two weeks happened.
I keep saying to myself, “He can still mess this up.” Lo and behold, he did. Which is why Brett Favre is …
The most overrated athlete of our time.I still don't know if I can agree with this assertion, but the blog posting from February I covered of Mark Bradley's tried to make a good case for it.
Naturally, the sycophants on ESPN declared Favre a man’s man for trying to Make A Play, but the first rule of NFL quarterbacking remains: Protect the Doggone Ball. But he couldn’t do it because he’s Brett Favre, the man’s man who never saw a dare he wouldn’t take.
Mark Bradley is talking about Tom Jackson's comment that made my jaw hit the floor when I heard it:
“That’s the thing about Brett Favre; he’s not afraid to throw an interception. That’s one of the things I most admire about him.”
I have heard every excuse in the world so far this year for Jake Delhomme's performance this year, outside of this one, but leave it to an ESPN analyst to make the best excuse for an interception-throwing quarterback. This is such a fail on so many levels by Tom Jackson I shouldn't even get into it.
I will just say it's one thing for a quarterback to not be afraid to throw an interception and it is a completely different thing for a quarterback to actually throw an interception in a crucial point of a game like Favre did. A quarterback can't play afraid, but he also has to be smart. Brett Favre has treaded and crossed over that line many times in his career.
So now I can rest easy, at least until Favre retires and unretires again. He’s done for this season. His last pass was a postseason interception, same as in January 2008. Being Brett Favre, he teared up in the postgame interview because he’s a man’s man who isn’t afraid to cry. Or wear Wrangler jeans. Or throw the ball to the other side.
I hate to say always post bad things about Brett Favre, especially now that the season is over, but after having to deal with an entire season of Favre-mania I feel like I am due one week to gloat a little bit in the fact that this season ended for Favre and his team the exact way his season with the Packers in 2008. Favre has padded his personal stats and enhanced his personal legacy, but from a team perspective, he is coming off another tough playoff loss where he threw a crucial late interception. So he is basically two years older and on a different team, but still has the bitter taste of a tough playoff defeat in his mouth...just like in 2008.
The last couple sentences Mark Bradley wrote here are pretty brutal/funny. Interestingly, Mark Bradley is also in a (many years-long) feud with John Smoltz. Maybe it's something about white, elderly gentlemen with beards who keep talking about retirement that doesn't sit well with him.
Either way, I think this is the official end of my Favre-mania...until he decides to retire/unretire and I rip into him again.