I have trouble recalling whether Phil Luckett was a referee that was plain bad or a victim of poor circumstance. Now 10 years since he last wore the white hat in the NFL, Luckett remains a fixture in the rules of NFL games, as his mess-ups have brought on rule changes in the league. On Thanksgiving Day, 1998 at the Pontiac Silverdome, Luckett made an interesting call on a coin flip which led to a Lions victory over the Steelers. For next season, the coin flip may carry an entirely different meaning.
Luckett’s existance in the NFL brought on two signficant rule changes: 1) players must declare “heads” or “tails” before the coin toss and 2) video replay is now in wide use to challenge calls on the field. The ongoing discussions for a rule change however, put more of the game in the hands of the players by allowing both teams to touch the ball if the first team does not score a touchdown. This means that the 31% of games where the team that loses the opening coin toss also loses the game without touching the ball, would not apply here. The league is creating a remedy to one of its most glaring issues, much as it once did when Luckett became a two-word expletive in many NFL cities.
The Lions have had their fair share of good luck over the past few years with overtime. In fact, the last Lions game to go to overtime was a win over the Vikings in 2007. Naturally, it took a Jason Hanson field goal to send the Vikes home unhappy. In the Steelers-Lions Thanksgiving Day game highlighted, it was the Lions that ended up on the winning side. The issue lately for the Lions has been their struggling ability to keep it close at the ends of games.
What do you think? Do you like the proposed NFL overtime rules? What would you suggest?