PALM BEACH, Fla.—The chairman of the NFL’s competition committee said Monday he thinks teams are more receptive now than they were two years ago to changing pro football’s overtime system during the regular season.
“I think everybody is a lot more comfortable with it now,” said Rich McKay, who is also president of the Atlanta Falcons.
Two years ago, the owners of the 32 NFL teams voted to change the sport’s overtime format for postseason games. The new format prohibits a team from winning a game with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime. The owners left the overtime system the same for the regular season, meaning that the first team to score in overtime prevails.
The owners will consider a proposal at this week’s annual league meeting here to use the postseason overtime format during the regular season as well. The proposal needs approval by at least 24 of the 32 teams to be put into effect.
Two years ago, some members of the competition committee favored changing the overtime system for the regular season as well, McKay said Monday. But such a proposal would not have received the necessary 24 votes, he said. He said it’s possible the proposal will receive the necessary votes now because of a growing sense that the postseason overtime format is “just inherently more fair.”
Coaches and front-office executives were briefed Monday on proposed rule changes. The owners will be briefed Tuesday and vote before the conclusion of the meetings Wednesday.
Another proposal would require automatic instant replay review for all turnovers. Coaches would not have to use a replay challenge to prompt a review, as they do now.
The NFL previously made all scoring plays subject to such automatic replay reviews. McKay said Monday the competition committee had been wary that an increase in replay reviews would make games too long. But that didn’t happen, because the clock already is stopped for scoring plays, McKay said, and the average time of games increased by only one minute last season. The proposed change for turnovers could have the same minimal effect on the pace of games, McKay said.
“We actually think this might be something that saves time,” McKay said, because coaches no longer would be stopping plays with challenges.
The NFL has experimented the past two preseasons with adding an eighth official to the officiating crew. But McKay said he expects no such experiment next preseason and the competition committee did not recommend an increase to the number of officials during regular season games.
Even after a record-setting season by NFL quarterbacks, McKay said the competition committee felt no urgent need to help defenses become more competitive with passing offenses.
“We feel okay where we are,” McKay said. “We don’t feel we’re out of whack in terms of offense [versus] defense…. We think the game is in pretty good stead. I think the fans think it is. The players think it is. The coaches think it is.”