Is there anything worse in the entire world than a preseason game going into overtime? No, of course there isn’t, especially if it is your job to cover the game. There is nothing within the human experience that can compare to the agony of the moment that you realize the score is going to remain tied when regulation ends in an exhibition game.
That’s why the Competition Committee is taking under consideration a rule change this year that would eliminate overtime for preseason games, a move that would surely save lives—and minds. It’s the only time people don’t want ‘free football’.
The actual rule change itself, which was proposed by none other than the Competition Committee, is actually incredibly simple. It consists entirely of simply removing every instance of the word ‘preseason’ from the overtime rules. There is no additional language at all. It merely removes four instances of the word ‘preseason’, and one instance of ‘and’, and a comma. Done and done. No more overtime in the preseason.
2021 rules proposals are in.
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) April 1, 2021
Given how simple and intuitive it is, I would be pretty surprised if this doesn’t pass. I don’t imagine there is a ton of support among owners, players, or coaches to keep it. By the middle of the fourth quarter at the latest, everyone is already ready to go home in these games.
With that said, it has been noted that the Competition Committee has proposed other times to eliminate overtime from preseason games, and the owners have opted to retain it. But now that they’re chipping away at the preseason altogether, are they still set on keeping it? I’m guessing not.
The Pittsburgh Steelers went to overtime for the third-ever game that I covered here in the preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs, ultimately losing 26-20. Kansas City repeatedly tied the score, over and over again, first at 10-10, then 17-17, then finally 20-20. They entered the fourth quarter tied at 17-17. The Steelers kicked a field goal, then the Chiefs responded with a game-tying boot with under two minutes to play.
Tragedies like this could be averted if simply 24 or more of the league’s owners could see the light and realize what a ridiculous idea it is to play extra time in a game that doesn’t mean anything and which they are trying to eliminate in the first place.
It’s also an absurdity to pitch the idea of player safety while also playing unnecessary football, of course. And I would hope that the NFLPA is also in support of this. If they are against OTAs, they should probably be against preseason overtime periods.