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Monday, March 22, 2010
Wilf has his own OT ideas

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf is against a proposed overtime rule change that could have prevented his team's loss in the NFC Championship Game. But speaking to a few reporters Monday at the NFL owners meeting, Wilf revealed an idea that mirrors another aspect of the Vikings' loss to New Orleans -- and perhaps exposed a lingering frustration with the defeat.

If anything is going to change about overtime, Wilf said, it should be to eliminate the opening kickoff and give the coin-flip winner the ball at their own 20-yard line. Everything else, including sudden death, would remain the same. The essence of the change, Wilf implied, would be to require teams to drive the full length of the field for a winning score rather than a short field caused by a long kickoff return.

"Kickoffs generally split first half-second half," Wilf said. "But I think there shouldn't be an advantage at that point [in overtime]."

The Saints, of course, opened overtime with a 40-yard kickoff return from Pierre Thomas. Their offense then drove 39 yards to get into position for Garrett Hartley's game-winning 40-yard field goal.

"I gave it a lot of thought," Wilf said. "And that's what I think. ... From a continuity and safety standpoint, that's the idea I had."

Wilf, in fact, noted that Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin tore an anterior cruciate ligament on the Thomas kickoff return.

To be clear, Wilf said he has no plans to transform his idea into a formal proposal. He did say he won't vote for the current proposal, which would eliminate the possibility of a team winning in overtime on a first-possession field goal. "Sudden death should be there," Wilf said.

The official proposal has its flaws, but so does Wilf's. It would require just as much of a paradigm change by eliminating the kickoff. It also carries some philosophical questions.

Many people consider a kickoff return to be an offensive play. It's not a cheap yardage gain. Returners typically earn whatever yards they gain beyond the 20. Why should we value offensive production over that of special teams?

It's a 50-50 bet that the official proposal will pass. I could be wrong, but Wilf's idea doesn't seem any more likely to gain traction.