NEW YORK (CAP) - With the start of the new NFL season bearing down comes word from the league commissioner's office of yet another rule change that will affect the upcoming season. In addition to video reviews of every scoring play and moving kick-offs to the 35 yard line, the venerable coin toss to determine possession will now be replaced with the more strategic Rock, Paper, Scissors.
"We've known for a long time that flipping a coin in the air was an absurd way to determine who gets the ball in a sport where they spend the remaining 60 minutes giving each other brain injuries," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We think this new rule removes the element of chance and restores football to a 100% game of skill.
"Plus, now referees don't have to worry about carrying extra change since those pants don't come with pockets," Goodell added.
According to the new rule, a representative from each team will take the field prior to the start of the game and any overtime session - much like the classic coin toss days - and wage battle in the game of hand domination, with the winner decided by the best two out of three. During overtime sessions in playoff games, if either team loses the challenge by a two-to-one margin, they can opt to push the game to a best three of five at the cost of one timeout.
"Where the coin toss used to be a time to run to the john or get a refill on that dip, now no doubt fans will be glued to their seats to watch the outcome," said CBS NFL analyst Boomer Esiason. "I'll bet no one's ever questioned someone picking heads versus tails, but I guarantee the first guy to go with Scissors twice when his opponent is clearly trending toward Rock is going to take a beating on sports radio."
While reaction to the added game strategy has been mostly positive, some coaches have expressed concern over instituting such a rule this close to the start of the season when rosters are already being finalized. CAP News spoke with one coach who said he's now agonizing over whether to keep a third quarterback with skills as a field goal holder or an extra strong safety with a proven track record in competitions like Rock, Paper, Scissors; One Potato, Two Potato; and Eeney Meeney.
"I got guys who can't remember a damn crossing route or deep pattern and now I gotta school 'em on how it is a piece of paper can beat a friggin' rock," said the AFC coach who asked not to be identified. "College recruiting just got a whole lot more difficult, that's for sure."
With the lack of game film to study, many teams have taken to showing episodes of the old TV game show Rock, Paper, Scissors to help players become more familiar with the intricacies of what was once a mere child's game. Some football purists say they wish the league had simply altered the existing coin toss method rather than institute an entirely new approach.
"We did consider the idea of having the referees catch the coin after tossing, rather than letting it land on the ground," said Goodell. "Then you've got the added complexity of the coin changing from heads to tails or vice versa as the referee flips it from one hand to the other. But the bottom line is that it was still a random approach, so we nixed it."
Goodell said depending on how the new rule plays out over the course of the season, he'll consider expanding the 53-man roster to allow for a specific Rock, Paper, Scissors position. Although no determination has yet been made, likely that position would become part of special teams.
- CAP News Staff