I don’t get too wrapped up in the small rules changes that happen each NFL off-season, but there are two changes this year that I think will sacrifice some of the entertainment value of NFL football:
1. All plays that might have been scoring plays and all turnovers will now automatically be reviewed. Why is this a bad thing? First, replay reviews slow down the game. A football game now very rarely ends in less than 3 hours – this rule change will probably add a few more minutes to the average game length next year. Secondly, it’s entertaining to watch coaches incorrectly challenge calls and makes for great post-game second guessing of decisions. Thirdly, although you want to have every call correct, a few missed/incorrect calls adds some drama and intrigue (football is, after all, entertainment). I want to see a perfectly officiated game, but in lieu of that, a game that ends in 3 hours with a bit of added drama isn’t a bad alternative.
2. Changing the OT rules – This is a subtle change to make overtime more fair to both teams and to align the rules for regular season and post-season games. That sounds good, but dig a little deeper. Overtime in the regular season will now last longer due to multiple possessions. When overtime lasts longer, a likely outcome is an increase in tie games. A four hour game that ends in a tie doesn’t make anyone happy.