The Press Box Perspective: The NFL Needs to Update Its Rules

By Andrew Zuhosky

If there’s one gift a man hates to get for Father’s Day, it’s a tie, and if there’s one outcome an NFL fan doesn’t want to see in a game, it’s a tie.

Here in 2016, we’ve already had two tie games — both in the past two weekends.

The 2016 NFL season will go down as the first season since 1997 where games ended in ties in two straight weeks. In Week 12 of 1997, the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens game ended in a 10-10 stalemate after neither Matt Stover nor Chris Boniol (both kickers for their respective teams) could convert game-winning field goal attempts inside the game’s last 2:30.

One week later in the Sunday night game on ESPN, the Washington Redskins and New York Giants played to a 7-7 draw.

Following the successive ties in 1997, no ties were recorded until 2002. Since then, the NFL’s had seven games end in ties. Five of those ties have occurred in the last five seasons.

Most recently, the Oct. 23 Sunday night game on NBC between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals ended in a 6-6 tie in a game which saw no touchdowns from either team, and both Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka failed to convert game-winning field goals from inside 30 yards away.

Last Sunday, the Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals game from London’s Wembley Stadium finished level at 27-27.

Tie games are a letdown for the players and, perhaps to a further extent, the fans.

I think that it’s time the NFL adopt the NCAA’s overtime rule. Four downs on the opponent’s 25-yard line to try and score, and you have to go for two points after a touchdown starting in triple overtime. That’s simple enough to be sufficient.

Another thing that’s bugged me about the NFL for years is the fact that the officials are seemingly intent on throwing penalty flags on anybody who even attempts to celebrate scoring a touchdown.

Before you say anything, yes, I understand that some celebrations are taboo. My stance is as long as the players aren’t doing anything too objectionable or otherwise inappropriate, the refs should keep the flags in their pockets.

Then again, the refs, or sometimes the coaches, will also penalize the funny, harmless celebrations. In 2000 during the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys game, San Francisco wide receiver Terrell Owens caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Garcia and then ran out to the 50-yard line and stomped on the Cowboys’ star logo.

While the referees did not eject Owens, then-49ers head coach Steve Mariucci banned him from the next week’s game.

Eight years later, Owens, who by that time was in his third year as a member of the Cowboys, celebrated a touchdown reception in that year’s Week 1 game vs. the Cleveland Browns by imitating Olympic gold-medal sprinter Usain Bolt.

I remember watching that game live and found that celebration to be hilarious, but was incensed when the Cowboys were assessed an excessive celebration penalty. “Come on, you’re flagging that? That’s funny!” I thought.

Or how about when former Bengals’ receiver Chad Johnson celebrated touchdowns by doing such things as utilizing the pylon as a golf putter and swinging the football like it were a golf ball, going toward a cheerleader and acting like he was proposing to her and holding a note reading “Dear NFL, PLEASE don’t fine me AGAIN!!!!!”

There was nothing remotely offensive about those celebrations. The funny celebrations shouldn’t be flagged, plain and simple.

Only time will tell if these changes will actually be put in place.

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