Throughout his Hall of Fame-worthy coaching career — well, maybe not when he was with the Browns — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, despite his curmudgeonly demeanor and oft-disheveled appearance has been looked upon as an innovator in many, many respects. And while the sparkling shine on the Patriots organization may have lost a little bit of its luster the past few seasons, Belichick’s body of work is perhaps unsurpassed, definitely in the modern NFL era and perhaps throughout its entire storied history.
During an interview this week on WEEI, Belichick was discussing the Patriots’ huge overtime win over the New York Jets last Sunday, and although he was obviously happy with the outcome — or as happy as Belichick can get — he is nevertheless dissatisfied with the current NFL overtime format, even with the upgrades implemented over the past few seasons that level the playing field between the team that wins the overtime coin toss and the team that loses it.
In essence, Belichick argues that the NFL do away with the sudden death format in any capacity and instead, the league should simply be to “Put some time on the clock and play.” But the entirety of Belichick’s thoughts thoroughly illustrates how sound his reasoning is behind his beliefs (audio here):
WEEI: Is this the fairest system? Is this the right one?
Well I don’t like it, no.
You don’t like it the way it is now?
No. No because I think the best part of the football game is the end of the game. Whether you take your timeouts, how you manage the game, the last two minutes of the game, getting the ball back, trying to keep the ball away from the other team, whatever it is. I think that combines all the elements of football. … When it’s the first team to score, or however the rules are set, or the way it is in college…that’s not the end of the game.
It’s like basketball, you go and play basketball it comes down to the end of regulation, you’re making three-point shots, you’re fouling, you’re pressing trying to get the ball back. Okay great, so now you’re in overtime. It’s the same thing. You get that same strategic element at the end of the basketball game.
In football, we’ve lost that with the rules that we have now.
So would you rather see an extended period? Just one extra period?
Put some time on the clock and play.
Not sudden death?
Yeah play to the end of the game. Put 10 minutes, 8 minutes, whatever we decide.
Makes perfect sense — and it’s not like this idea has never been floated before — which means there has to be reasons why this format has never gained a lot of steam and a groundswell of support, and perhaps most significant among those reasons is possibly that the NFLPA is weary of it due to the greater risk of injury given that the players already are extremely fatigued and the longer they are on the field, the more likely an overexertion-related injury comes into play.
Still, if Belichick’s idea were ever to come to fruition, the length of time players are on the field would not differ that greatly from how long they can be on it now with the current format.
After all, Belichick is an innovator. The NFL might as well follow his lead on this one, too, much like other coaches have been patterning themselves after him all these years.
[H/T Business Insider]