Back in March, NFL owners tabled a motion at their annual meeting to reduce overtime in the regular season and preseason from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. It now appears that owners are prepared to pass the motion, according to NFL.com's Judy Battista.
While there were only two ties in the 2016 NFL regular season, the fact that they happened in back-to-back weeks for the first time in nearly 20 years was enough to cause an uproar. Never mind that it was only the third time since overtime was instituted in 1974 that there were multiple ties in a season. For that two-week period, it was the year of the tie.
So the prospect of more ties is bound to be an issue for the public. According to the NFL's research, in the past five seasons, 22 of the 83 regular season games that have gone to overtime lasted more than 10 minutes. That doesn't necessarily mean there would be roughly four more ties per season, because several of those games likely would have ended differently due to a different strategic approach with more limited time. At the same time, it's doubtful that all of them would, so it's safe to assume we're looking at more ties if this measure is passed.
Some fans do actually enjoy ties, albeit for the chaos and hilarity in what is often a rigidly organized and very serious sport. Many others, however, find them annoying and anti-climatic.
There are other considerations, of course. The league wants to reduce the amount of snaps players take over the course of the season, which reduces the potential for a host of serious injuries, not to mention routine wear and tear. Whether a few snaps at the end of overtime is likely to make a big difference is debatable. The league seems to believe it will, at least.
This is the crux of the decision that the NFL faces as the public becomes increasingly concerned about player safety, yet at the same time expects the same quality from the on-field product. Analysts often point to restrictions on offseason practice time, passed as a demand of the players union to ease stress on players, as a cause linked to the perceived dip in the quality of play during the regular season.
For what it's worth, quarterback Drew Brees isn't a fan of the change. He prefers the college overtime system and said shortening OT to 10 minutes would likely result in more ties.
"That additional five minutes, especially where the rules changed, to where in essence both teams get a possession, unless someone goes down and scores a touchdown right away," Brees said on The Dan Patrick Show. "So I think what we already saw with the new rules of, a field goal can't win it on the first possession, we've seen more ties. I can think of at least three or four off the top of my head that resulted in ties based on that new rule. So now make it to where it's just 10 minutes as opposed to 15 and I think that changes things. Probably see more ties."