ORLANDO -- In the minutes after NFL owners voted 28-4 on Tuesday to alter the league's overtime rule for the postseason, a Vikings spokesman said Zygi Wilf would have no comment.
Wilf was one of the four owners who voted against the change at the league owners meetings -- something that might have seemed odd considering the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC title game without ever getting to touch the ball in overtime -- and it appeared to be a safe assumption that he was not very happy.
But when Wilf appeared in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton early Tuesday evening he seemed just fine with the decision. Wilf said that before the vote he addressed his fellow owners to share his concerns about going to a format that would mean a team could not end the game on the first possession of overtime by kicking a field goal. A touchdown will still end the game but if the team that wins the toss kicks a field goal then the other team gets a shot to either tie the score or win it with a touchdown.
"It was a good debate and we discussed it, the pros and cons," Wilf said. "I back the decision and am ready to play some football.”
It was somewhat surprising that the rule passed, considering the early speculation was that it didn't have enough support. But what was really surprising was that a vote was taken on Tuesday and not Wednesday, as had been expected. This had some feeling that Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league pulled a fast one on its coaches by having the vote done a day early, before some of them could attempt to talk their owners out of voting for the change.
While the vote was being conducted, many coaches were enjoying an annual golf outing. Some found out as they left the course. It would be unfair to say how many were upset because guys like Dallas' Wade Phillips and St. Louis' Steve Spagnuolo said they were fine with it, but Saints coach Sean Payton did not hide his displeasure. Payton was against changing the rule, even though his franchise voted for it. Only the Vikings, Bengals, Bills and Ravens cast "no" votes.
Asked if things might have been different if head coaches had been in the room, Wilf said: “I don’t know. We’re big boys we make decisions, too.”
There appears a good chance that NFL owners will push to have the new rule put in place for the 2010 regular season. That could happen as soon as May when owners meeting again in Dallas. Wilf said he would like to see the rule used in both regular season and the playoffs to provide consistency.