This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
I'm an NFL junkie. Along with millions of others. From late Labor Day to the first week of February, I am hooked into the weekly dramas. There's no long prelude period, as in Major League Baseball where you could pretty much tune in come late July, early August and be right on track to the World Series. The first NFL kick-off ignites do-or-die significance across the league. And each subsequent week looms larger and larger in each team's march toward the biggest, baddest event in all of sports, the SuperBowl.
From the stars, the Namaths and the Mannings, to the history, the Lombardis and the Steel Curtain, to the outrageous athleticism, the NFL has been a nearly perfect package for a long, long time now. And I say "nearly perfect" because, as have most of those millions of NFL freaks, I have been terribly frustrated with the Overtime rule that has left us fans angry and bewildered by its implicit injustice. The rule to date has been that a tie score as the game clock winds down dictates a new coin toss. If the team who wins that toss can just get down close enough to kick a field goal, game over. Today's good kickers can boot it through the uprights from about 50 yards. So the math is self-evident. Since 1994, 60% of the coin toss winners have successfully made it to field goal range; and that kick seals the victory. The other team never gets a chance to score.
They grind it out up and down the field. Acrobatic catches, gutsy tackles, balletic runs, ingenious on-side kicks. And then a field goal wins the thing and the other team doesn't even get to touch the ball again? It's always been illogical, unsatisfying, unfair…and just plain wrong. Well, as of yesterday, NFL owners righted their one glaring wrong. At least for the post-season, a quick field goal cannot seal the deal. If either team scores a touchdown, that's the end. But after the first field goal, the other team gets their chance, too.
Fans of both Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings only wish the new sudden death rule was in place last season. Favre and the boys in purple fought their hearts out to tie a finely-tuned Saints squad and then sat helplessly on their bench and watched the Saints win the overtime coin toss and kick the one field goal it took to win the NFC Championship game. Losing at that stage in the season, after all the slams and hits and hopes and nail-biters, is heartbreaking enough but to never have a chance on offense in overtime is cruel and unusual punishment, perhaps especially for a 40-year-old quarterback who may never get that close again.
Well, it won't happen again. Now, all the NFL needs to do is to implement the new rule for the regular season, too. Then the "nearly perfect" morphs to "perfect."
And let me add a couple of other NFL notes. First, Tim Tebow. Throughout his last two years at Florida and in these months working out before the NFL draft, most pro-football insiders have trashed Tebow as unlikely to succeed as a pro. He may have an unorthodox passing technique. He may have run too much in college and have to stay back in the pocket more in the pros, but I find it hard to believe that several teams won't compete for Tebow in the first round of the draft. As a matter of fact, I'd bet on it.
Second, Chad Ochocinco. Have you seen Mr. Me Me Me on Dancing with the Stars? He's gracious, polite, unassuming, humble. If he's Mr Hyde with the Bengals, he's Dr. Jeckyll prepping for his tango. What an eye-opener it is to see him as a charming gentleman, rather than a boorish egomaniac. Although…he's already signed to star in his own summer reality show where he will date 85 women in 10 weeks. That's 8.5 women per week. Back to Mr. Hyde, I presume?
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And that's The Score.
Banner image: Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco dances with Cheryl Burke. Photo: ABC/Adam Larkey