NFL overtime proposal does nothing for player safety

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Sat May 27, 2017 11:08 pm

NFL owners voted Tuesday to shorten overtime to 10 minutes, and based on recent history, that will reduce wear and tear on players by .06 percent in 2017.

That's not 6 percent. Or six-tenths of 1 percent. It's a little more than half of a 10th of 1 percent.

Research by ESPN Stats & Information's Vince Masi, combined with some rudimentary math, projects the NFL could slice about 20 plays per season -- from a total of more than 32,000 -- by reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10.

The official justification attached to the rule proposal is "player safety." Presumably, it will decrease the chances for injuries. Coaches also believe it will minimize what they consider a competitive disadvantage when playing the following week against a more rested opponent. The ideas make sense in theory, but, in a recurring theme when the NFL changes its rules, their likely effect appears minor to the point of insignificant.

Consider that in 2016, there were a total of 32,732 plays during the course of the regular season. Twenty plays in 32,732 is, well, a very small fraction of the total. Historically, there haven't been many overtime games that extend beyond 10 minutes. When they do, the amount of action past that point has mostly been negligible until a notable blip last season.

Frankly, the best argument for a 10-minute overtime is that the quality of play is brutal in the handful of games that go longer. Only the most hard-core people want to continue watching, playing or coaching.

Let's take a closer look. ... yer-safety

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