The NFL should do away with ties

Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

Perhaps the worst all-time showing of professional football occurred Sunday, as the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers slugged it out at Heinz Field in what I can only describe as professional football’s ironic magnum opus – something so truly pitiful, ugly, disgraceful and beyond baffling that it was in fact, timeless.

After both teams committed multiple turnovers, penalties and lackluster execution, the game ended in a 16-16 tie, the first of the 2021 NFL season.

Immediately, reaction from both fan bases poured in, with both saying the tie essentially felt like a loss.

For all intents and purposes, it was.

The Lions left Pittsburgh as still the only winless team left in the league and the Steelers still sit a half-game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North lead.

What this all amounts to is the simple reality – the NFL needs to do away with ties.

When your favorite team ends the game in a tie, is your inclination to feel like it was a tie? Or is your gut reaction something like “Man, that was basically a loss”?

I can say for myself watching the outcome Sunday did not feel like a tie — it felt more like a really gutless loss, especially when one considers the futility that is the Lions.

The Steelers should’ve won by at least two touchdowns, and in the end laid an egg resulting in an outcome that left nobody satisfied.

When a professional sporting event is played, the goal is to have a winner.

This is a custom that has been recognized in all the major North American sports besides soccer, including basketball, hockey and baseball.

A tie essentially rewards futility, which leaves most everyone involved feeling empty.

If I were a player or coach for either team, I certainly don’t think I could’ve left Heinz Field holding my head up; instead, I would’ve been filled with anger, frustration and a sense that an “L” had been tacked onto the team record.

The NFL should consider rules changes that would enable a winner in each NFL contest.

This would include lengthening the overtime period, giving teams better field position to start, or even allowing teams to win the game based on the first score of overtime.

Regardless of what reforms are considered, something must be done, so that in the event another dud of a contest occurs like the one Sunday in southwestern Pennsylvania, at least one team can emerge victorious.


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