'THE POTENTIAL TO BE BETTER'

On the first day of the NFL's 2010 Annual Meetings, Commissioner Roger Goodell said a proposal to change post-season overtime has 'the potential to be a better system.'

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Goodell Says Overtime Proposal Deservedly Getting "A Lot of Thought"

INDIANAPOLIS – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't certain the proposed changes to post-season overtime are perfect.

At the same time, he's not sure perfection is necessary.

Goodell, speaking at a Monday press conference during the NFL's Annual Meetings in Orlando, Fla., said while he's "not holding my breath yet" that owners will approve the proposal, he said the idea of altering the league's long-standing "sudden-death" system of deciding games tied after regulation has merit.

"It's getting a lot of thought," Goodell said Monday. "It's got the potential to be a better system."

The NFL's Competition Committee presented the proposal to owners Monday. Goodell said discussion is expected Tuesday with a vote expected before the end of the meetings Wednesday.

Under the proposal, each team will get at least one offensive possession provided the team receiving the overtime kickoff does not score a touchdown on its first possession. If the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown, it will win the game. If it scores a field goal, the other team receives possession after a kickoff.

If the team receiving possession second scores a touchdown, it wins. If it the teams are tied 3-3 after each has had a possession, the game will revert to the league's current "sudden-death" format.

"I'm not sure there is a perfect overtime system," Goodell said. "What we've tried to look at is, 'How do we design a system that will be appealing to our fans, that will stay true to the competitive integrity of our game?' The competition committee has come up with something here that is very much worth consideration.

"It keeps, for one, the sudden-death nature of the game, which I think makes our system unique and attractive. I love the idea that we're in a sudden-death scenario. And I think it's responsive to some of the issues people have said over the past, so I think it bears a lot of consideration."

Goodell on Monday also discussed:
• Negotiations between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs through 2010, but there are questions moving forward if there is no CBA in place by the start of the 2011 season. "We're still in a very early stage," Goodell said. "Let's allow the collective bargaining process to continue. We're in the first quarter here. We're in an uncapped system now. We'll continue to negotiate. Hopefully, we'll all be able to figure out the right way to structure something so it works for everybody and we can reach a fair agreement for the players and the game." Added Goodell, "We're continuing the focus of how we negotiate properly and get a fair agreement for not only the owners and the clubs, but the players and the fans in general. . . . There really haven't been any discussions for several weeks."

• The league's decision to move the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft to prime-time and to have the draft be a three-day process rather than two. The draft this year will be held April 22-24, with the first round beginning Thurs., April 22 at 7:30 p.m., followed by the second and third rounds on Friday, April 23 at 6 p.m. Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, April 24 beginning at 10 a.m. The draft will be televised on NFL Network and ESPN. "We've seen tremendous growth in the draft in popularity over the last couple of years, and we think this is another way to do that," he said. "By creating a prime-time event and doing it over three days, we think we'll be able to allow more people to experience the draft not only in person, but also on television. It's another step in trying to innovate and trying to create greater opunities for people to engage in our game. We think it's going to be a nice change and a positive change for our fans."

POLIAN ON OVERTIME PROPOSAL: Colts President Bill Polian long has been a proponent of the NFL keeping its current sudden-death overtime policy. He said this week he has changed his mind.

And he said statistics are the reason.

Polian, who last off-season supported keeping the sudden-death system, said what changed his mind was the statistic that since 1994, the team receiving the overtime kickoff has won 59.8 percent of games.

"No matter where you came down on the subject, whether you were a pure two-possession guy or a status quo guy, as I was going in, when you saw the statistics broken down from 1994-2009, and you saw the team winning the toss winning 60 percent of the time, and then you saw the accuracy of field-goal kickers, both in distance and accuracy over that period of time, it's obvious that it's a game that from 1994 on is very different than what we had prior to 1994," Polian told the Boston Globe Sunday. "(Before that), essentially, there was no difference between (a) team winning the toss and losing it."

The league in 1994 moved kickoffs from the 35-yard-line to the 30, but Polian told the Globe that as significant was the improved range and accuracy of NFL field-goal kickers. Polian told the Globe that from 1974-1993, kickers converted 54.8 percent field-goal attempts from 40-to-49 yards, and 32.9 percent from 50-plus. Since 1994, the statistics are 68.6 and 51.4, respectively.

"This rule allows the defense to play defense, because if you hold them to a field goal, you've got a shot," Polian told the Globe. "So it does allow you to play defense – it actually forces you to play defense. As opposed to long kickoff return, first down, no yardage; second down, short yardage; third down, long pass, pass interference; field goal, game over. This forces you to play defense. If you can't play defense, you're going to get scored upon."

Polian also said the committee recommended the change be limited to the post-season because of concerns from the NFL Players Association regarding players' safety.

"We listened to the players a great deal," he said. "There was a concern (about lengthening games), and we recognized it."

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