ORLANDO -- NFL owners voted 28-4 on Tuesday afternoon in favor of changing the league's overtime rule for the playoffs. Viking owners Zygi Wilf said on Monday he would not vote for the proposal and he stayed true to that. Wilf joined executives from Baltimore, Buffalo and Cincinnati in voting against the change.
Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of public affairs, said Tuesday that Wilf would have no comment on the situation. The interesting thing is this rule actually would have helped the Vikings in the NFC title game last January in New Orleans. The Saints won with a 40-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley on the opening possession. Under the new system, the Vikings would have been given an opportunity to either tie the score with a field goal or win it with a touchdown.
The rule passed by the owners states that if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown the game will be over. However, if the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal, the opponent will get a possession. If the teams trade field goals, then a sudden-death format will be in place.
Rich McKay, the co-chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee, acknowledged that this discussion could come up again at the next league meetings in May in Dallas and that there is a chance the new rule could be used as soon as the 2010 regular season. But right now it's only for the playoffs.
"We have a great game," McKay said. "A game that's incredibly popular, statistically it's a very good game with a good offense, defense balance in our mind so whenever you propose change there is always that immediate pushback of, 'Why would we change?' Well, the issue is sometimes you want to get ahead of a problem and not behind it."
McKay, though, said the Vikings' loss to the Saints had little to do with this move.
"I don't think [it had] much [impact]," McKay said. "I think that one of the teams that voted against it was in the game and the last time I checked I don't think they won. I don't believe that that was a reaction to [that game]. We had been talking about overtime as long as we talked about replay and so this was just a constant thing until this year when we got much more comfortable with the fact the proposal was really an improvement on the current system and we were still keeping the basis of the system, which was sudden death."
Wilf made it clear Monday that he was against the change and said he liked the sudden-death system. Wilf did say he would favor a system in which the team that won the coin toss got the ball at its own 20-yard line with a chance t to score to end the game. The Saints' Pierre Thomas returned the opening kickoff 40 yards against the Vikings in overtime of the NFC title game and cornerback Cedric Griffin suffered a torn ACL on the play.
The interesting thing was this rule passed while most NFL coaches were attending the regular golf outing they have during these meetings. Vikings coach Brad Childress was among those. Childress said earlier in the week he was on the fence about the overtime rule. He said this morning that he had begun to lean one way on the change before adding, "we'll let that come to fruition tomorrow."
Childress was referencing the fact that many, including coaches, expected the vote to be conducted on Wednesday and not today.