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Last updated 5/30/2017 at Noon


Usually whenever the National Football League changes any rule of the game it’s for the benefit of the league or the fans. But after last week’s Spring League Meeting in Chicago, the change that has created the most attention is the one pertaining to the length of the overtime period.

The NFL owners, in their infinite wisdom, reduced the overtime period from 15 minutes to 10 minutes during the preseason and regular season because of coaches’ concerns that too many players were exhausted and risking injuries by the end of the extra period.

Unbelievably, the rule change is aimed at improving player safety. “There have been concerns about the number of additional plays teams undergo while playing a full 15-minute overtime period, especially when one of the teams is subject to playing its next game on a short week,” commented NFL Network’s Judy Battista.

According to an article by the Associated Press last week, playoff games will also use the 10-minute time blocks in overtime but the games will not end in ties.

“Research suggests the number of games that will go into overtime and end up tied will climb slightly. Over the past five years, with the 15-minute period in use, the league has averaged about one tie game each season. Projections show that could climb to three,” the AP article points out.

Although the idea of 10-minute overtime has been a topic that has caused much comment, the change shouldn’t lead to a significant increase in the scores.

According to NFL Research, there have been 83 overtime games over the last five seasons since the league gave the opposing team a chance at the ball after a field goal was made, 22 of them lasting at least 10 minutes into overtime.

That works out to 26.5% of the past five seasons overtime games, that theoretically would have been affected by last week’s rule change.

The average time elapsed in overtime during the last five years is 7 minutes, 43 seconds.

There have been five games that ended in a tie in those five seasons, an average of one per year. If overtime had ended after 10 minutes, there would have been 16 total ties, for an average of 3.2 times over a 512-game season.

“We think this is an important change, particularly for teams that may be into an overtime situation that may have to come back and play on a Thursday night, so it’s a positive change,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added.

I believe it would be logically irresponsible to assume that nothing would change if both teams knew they had 10 minutes rather than 15 minutes in an overtime period.

Where a team may run it on second-and-four from midfield with 5:06 left to play in OT, they certainly would attempt a Hail Mary in that same position with six seconds remaining.

A team that wins the overtime coin toss and has a couple of bulls in the backfield could literally run the ball on every play, moving it downfield with less than two minutes to play.

If they got stymied in the red zone, they could kick a chip-shot field goal and leave the opponent less than two minutes to try to go 60 or 70 yards for the tying field goal or the game-winning touchdown. Both scenarios are quite unlikely.

ESPN took into account as much as possible when reviewing every overtime game since 2012 in an effort to determine how many of those 22 games that stretched beyond 10 minutes would have affected last season’s playoff picture.

This exercise showed that several teams would have had their post-season fate altered had this rule change come along within the past five years—new division winners, a reshuffling of seeds and even a reigning Super Bowl champ that missed the playoffs the next season.

Last week’s meeting also loosened the rule about end zone celebrations following touchdowns, allowing players to again use the football as a prop, celebrate as a group and roll around or flap their arms like a snow angel on the ground again if they choose.

Still frowned on by the league are taunting, celebrations that delay the game, anything imitating weapons and anything that is offensive, like twerking.

KWICKIES…The Houston Astros continue to pound the opposition into submission, boasting a major league baseball best 36-16 record through Monday’s Memorial Day action in Minnesota against the Twins, where Houston rallied from an early 8-2 deficit, scoring 11 runs in the eighth inning and three in the ninth to win 16-8. The last time Houston scored 11 runs in one inning was in July, 1994 against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Astrodome.

Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, driving a race car with a Honda engine.

Winners of last weekend’s conference baseball tournaments include Sam Houston State in the Southland, Oklahoma State in the Big 12, University of Houston in the American, Rice in Conference USA and LSU in the Southeastern Conference.

Both Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness champ Cloud Computing will be missing from the upcoming Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. So it appears the race will be wide open for the event that runs a week from this Saturday.

Kevin Kisner used three consecutive birdies on the first three holes of the back nine and then held on to win the Colonial Sunday by a single stroke over Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair and Jon Rahm. It was the second PGA Tour win for Kisner as he put together rounds of 67-67-70-66—270 to pocket the $1.242 million first place check.

And I must give a little ink to my sister Bobbie Wechter for getting a hole-in-one last week on a 127-yard par 3 hole at a course in her home town of Spring Hill, Fla. She has tied our late mother for an ace and got to within one of me. Our brother Dick has been taking lessons like mad trying to join us.

The Fort Worth Telegram in a recent article suggests that Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones consider picking up unsigned Colin Kaepernick as the team’s back-up quarterback. I don’t think Kaepernick would buy into the deal, if it were to materialize.

JUST BETWEEN US…It so much better recuperating from my 6 1/2–hour reverse colostomy surgery at home than in the hospital. But Dr. Carlos Morales did a magnificent job laparoscopically and the nurses, respiratory and rehab techs at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont were fabulous. But it’s great to be home pounding on this computer again!!!


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