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Notebook: Owners Pass Change To Playoff OT Rules


NFL owners approved a change to the overtime format for postseason play on Tuesday at the annual league meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Team owners voted 28-4 in favor of the change, with 75 percent of the votes (24) needed to pass the proposal. The Packers voted in favor of the change.

Where in the past overtime was a sudden-death format, the new rule will give each team a possession if the team with the ball first only scores a field goal. If the first team that has possession scores a touchdown, the game would be over. But if that team scores a field goal, the other team would get the opportunity to either tie the game with a field goal or win with a touchdown. If both teams were to make a field goal, the next team to score would win.

"We (Head Coach Mike McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson) talked about it," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said late Tuesday afternoon. "At the end of the day we wanted to hear what everybody had to say about it, but I think we all were in agreement that it was a good move for the league."

Last week during a conference call with national media, Atlanta Falcons president and NFL competition committee co-chair Rich McKay cited statistics that showed the differences in overtime results from two different time periods: 1974 (when sudden-death was first instituted) through 1993, and 1994 (when kickoffs were moved back from the 35-yard line to the 30) through 2009.

Teams that won the coin toss in overtime from 1994-2009 won the game 13 percent more of the time than teams that won the toss from 1974-93, and teams that won the coin toss won on a first-possession field goal 8.3 percent more of the time from 1994-2009 compared to 1973-93.

"We felt like this year's proposal, which we call 'modified sudden death,' was really an opportunity to make what we think is a pretty good rule - sudden death - even better," McKay said on Tuesday. "We felt like statistically it needed to be changed, that it wasn't producing the 'fairest result,' if you will, based on the effect of field-goal accuracy, field-goal distance and the drive start."

In the NFC Championship Game this year, the New Orleans Saints won the coin toss in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings. After a kickoff return out to their own 39-yard line, the Saints moved the ball down to Minnesota's 20 to set up the game-winning 40-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley, so the Vikings never got the ball.

Although the proposal approved on Tuesday will only affect playoff contests, McKay said there was "a lot of sentiment in the room" to make the same change for overtime games in the regular season, and that the issue could be revisited at the league meetings in May.

"We all (Murphy, Thompson and McCarthy) felt that it would be better to do it regular season and postseason together so you have consistency," Murphy said. "I think we'll probably end up there, but it's just a question of time. I think we need a little more time to get to that point."

Unique perspective

During his eight-year playing career with the Washington Redskins (1977-84), Murphy gained experience dealing with labor issues as both the Redskins' player representative for five years as well as the vice president of the players union for two seasons.

Now serving on the NFL's 10-member NFL Management Council Executive Committee (CEC), those experiences provide Murphy with some unique insight as he is heavily involved in negotiating sessions for a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.

"He was actively involved with the NFLPA so he has seen it from the other side," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Monday. "He now is seeing it from the side of management. That perspective is incredibly valuable for our ownership and frankly I believe it will be for the players when the dialogue continues.

"He has been very effective in the meetings and negotiations. He is a smart guy who understands what needs to get done to create a system. He is also very reasonable. He's fair and he wants what's best for the game and the players, as we all do."

Murphy acknowledged that the Packers are in a unique situation since they are the only team in the league to have financial records that are made public.

"It's just a reality that we deal with," Murphy said. "In normal years it's not really that significant, but I think now with the focus, not just the union, I think a lot of people are focused on our financial records to a much greater degree than they would be otherwise."

Since the owners and NFLPA were not able to come to an agreement on a new CBA earlier this month, the league is operating without a salary cap in 2010. Even though the Packers re-signed four key unrestricted free agents this month, safety Nick Collins, nose tackle Ryan Pickett, and tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, as well as quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Greg Jennings to long-term extensions over the past two years, Murphy said the uncapped year didn't factor much into those decisions.

{sportsad300}"We need to do what is in the Packers' best interest," Murphy said. "We've talked a little bit about it. Really, we've been pretty consistent with what we have done in the past. Trying to reach an agreement and extend the contracts of our key players, identifying the right ones and extending them. And the other thing that we've always done is pay as you go. We don't want to mortgage the future. If we can extend players and pay it while we go, I think that is going to help us in the future, and it's something that we've always done as an organization.

"Part of it for us is kind of the maturation of the team. Obviously we signed some key veterans or more senior players, but we've had a fairly young team for a number of years and I think the natural process is going to be as they develop into better players you are going to extend them and you are going to have costs associated with that."

Although the salary cap is gone at least temporarily, Murphy is hopeful that component would return in a new CBA, along with revenue sharing.

"If you look at the salary cap, since it's been in place, we've had pretty good growth in the NFL," Murphy said. "I think the competitive parity that it provides is crucial to the success of the league.

"The goal is to get an agreement with the players that includes a salary cap."

Extra pay for Sitton

On Tuesday the league announced the top earners under the NFL's "Performance-Based Pay" system that awards players for playing time based on their salary level.

Guard Josh Sitton checked in at No. 12 on the NFL's list, first among Packers by earning $300,622 in additional pay.

Performance-Based Pay was created as part of the NFL's 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement extension with the NFL Players Association, and is designed to supplement player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. The fund is only paid in league years in which a salary cap exists. Since 2009 was the last year under a salary cap system, Performance-Based Bay will not continue in 2010, the final year of the current CBA.

Sitton started all 16 games at right guard in 2009 and didn't miss an offensive snap all season, the only Packer to be on the field for 100 percent of the offensive plays.

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