Colts’ Bill Polian finds himself in middle of NFL overtime debate

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While top NFL prospects were running, jumping and lifting for scouts from the 32 professional teams on hand at the Combine in Indianapolis yesterday, a debate was going on behind the scenes at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Members of the NFL’s competition committee, which includes Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian, were discussing the rules which govern overtime.

According to sources familiar with discussions, there are two sharply divided sides and the debate at times yesterday was intense. One side wants overtime to remain in its current sudden death format, meaning the first team to score wins.

The other side wants a change, and here’s what was proposed yesterday in Indianapolis.

If the team that first gets the ball in overtime scores a touchdown, the game is over. However, if the team that first gets the ball, does not score or scores a field goal, the other team gets the ball.

NFL owners are especially concerned with a playoff game being determined by a coin flip, as some suggest was the case in this year’s NFC Championship between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.

Since 1994, nearly 60 percent of teams to win the coin toss won the game and 73 percent of overtime games have been decided by a field goal.

The committee will discuss the rule change during the spring owners' meetings March 21-24. The vote would need two-thirds (or 24 of 32 owners' approval) to pass.

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