Lost in the excitement of the announcement that Kansas City will host the NFL draft in 2023 was the NFL’s decision to pass on the Chiefs’ proposal to give both teams the chance to have the ball in overtime. The frustration is understandable. It’s very possible that the Chiefs would have won the Super Bowl had they had the opportunity to get Mahomes the ball in overtime in the AFC Championship Game.
But there’s no reason why the NFL has to jump through so many hoops to have a fair overtime. There are a number of possible solutions that are more fair than the current method.
The most popular alternative is to go to a system similar to college, where each team gets the ball on the opponent’s 25 and can score either a touchdown or a field goal (or nothing), and both teams get a shot. Whoever scores more points wins, and if they score the same amount they do it again. Another option is to simply give one team the ball normally, and if they score give the other team a chance to score as well, and if they also score then give the other team the opportunity to score etc.
The biggest problems with these sorts of solutions is the time. In the regular season the NFL is very picky with how long the games last. Since Sundays have games back-to-back-to-back, often on the same network. The NFL doesn’t want games going on forever and conflicting with other games. These solutions could be used just for the postseason however, where the NFL cares more about determining a fair outcome and less about the time.
But there is a better solution, one that could be used both in the regular season and the postseason. I don’t know if it has a formal name, but I call it the Bidding System. It works like this:
Before overtime starts, both coaches tell the refs a yard line. So like “own 25” or “opponent’s 40”. These are their bids, and whoever bids the worst field position gets the ball on the yard line they bid, with the first team to score winning. In this example the team that bid “own 25” would win and get the ball on their own 25.
If both teams bid the same yard line it would go back to a coin flip.
This system is 100% fair because you can never complain about the other team getting the ball first. Imagine this system in the AFC Championship Game, where the Patriots got the ball because they bid their own 20 while the Chiefs bid their own 25. If the Chiefs tried to complain that they never got the ball then it could be pointed out that if they want the ball so badly they could have bid their own 19.
This also satisfies the time requirement, since in this regard it’s no different than the current system. Give the team who won the ball, put 10 minutes on the clock, and if nobody scores then it goes down as a tie.
Unfortunately the NFL seems to be allergic to good ideas, so this will probably never happen. The silver lining is that it will give people like me who like to complain on the internet plenty of ammunition.