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Sorry, NFL, shortening the overtime period won't improve player safety

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The NFL could actually benefit players’ health and safety by eliminating Thursday Night Football, but it won’t.

SiriusXM At The 2017 NFL Draft Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM

At the NFL’s owners meetings in March, the competition committee discussed a proposal to shorten the regular season overtime rules period from 15 minutes to 10. The proposal was tabled at that meeting, but according to NFL Network’s Judy Battista, it’s expected to be approved when the owners revisit it next week.

The proposed change is ostensibly driven by player safety, but shortening overtime wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Battista reported in March that the proposal was centered around the idea that playing in overtime on a Sunday ahead of a Thursday Night Football game — with just three days between — gives players even less time to recover. Taking away the potential for five minutes of that overtime is unlikely to make a big difference in player health and safety, unlike, say, getting rid of Thursday games completely.

For one thing, the proposed change would impact a small percentage of games, based on recent history:

That’s less than 2 percent of all regular season games over the last five years that have seen more than 10 minutes of overtime.

More importantly, the proposal ignores the real problem here, which is the turnaround time for teams scheduled to play on Thursday nights. An additional 10 or 15 minutes of overtime is much less of a pressing concern than the fact that Thursday night games give players inadequate time — three days! — for rest and recovery.

Roger Goodell insists that Thursday night games are better than other games, “almost by every barometer.

“On safety, and we’ve been tracking this every year, there has not been any, any indication or facts or anything else that would indicate the level of injuries are up on Thursday night,” Goodell said in January on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

But players don’t agree. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said the turnaround for Thursday night games is “terrible.”

“We played, got home at like 1 o’clock in the morning something like that on Monday, and then you got to play again,” Sherman said. “I mean, congratulations NFL, you did it again. But they’ve been doing it all season so I guess we’re the last ones to get the middle finger.”

If the modified overtime rule does pass, as it is expected to, there will be more ties. But it’s unlikely to have any measurable positive impact on player health and safety.