The year was 2009. And things were wacky. The fact that Brett Favre was in the NFC Championship game was, by itself, not at all strange. Brett Favre was a great quarterback having a great year. And he was on the brink of a Superbowl birth. No. The wacky part of that 2009 football season was that ‘ol #4 was wearing the purple and gold for the Minnesota Vikings. And that the game was going to change the rules of football.
You see, the game — and it was a GREAT game — ended in a tie. When the whistle blew the score of that game that would determine who represented the NFC in the Superbowl stood 28-28. The Saints managed to play the Vikings to a tie despite being outplayed the whole game. We’re going to overtime! Now, in the NFL up to and including 2009, the overtime rules were crazy, dumb and outdated. The rule, at the time, was this:
Before overtime started, the teams met at mid-field and a coin toss was conducted. The winner of the coin toss was allowed to declare if they would rather kick the ball or receive the ball. The other team was awarded the decision which end zone they would defend. In almost all circumstances, the winner of the coin toss would choose to receive the ball. The reason was simple; the rules of over time stated that the team to score first would be declared the winner.
This is, of course, stupid.
For example, a team that wins the coin toss gets the ball first and only has to score a field goal to win. And they can do this without the other team even having the chance to posses the ball and impact the outcome. Now, the NFL is not alone in sudden death overtime; hockey also plays extra time with the first score determining the winner. Some soccer leagues also play sudden death. However, other sports are not played in this manner. The NBA plays extra minutes and whoever is ahead at the end of that extra time is awarded the victory. Baseball plays an extra inning; each team is provided an opportunity to bat and if they can score more runs than their opponent during that extra inning, they are the winner.
The NFL’s rule is stupid. And the fact that a game as important as the NFC Championship game is determined by a coin toss only makes that rule more unfortunate. As it turned out, New Orleans won the coin toss, received the ball, moved close enough to attempt a field goal and won the game 31-28. The very next season the NFL changed the over time rules to allow both teams the chance to possess the ball IF the first team scored on a field goal. If they score a touchdown on the first possession, the game is over.
Better – but still dumb.
And here’s the thing; everyone KNOWS that this was a horrible rule. And while the NFL made it better by adjusting for a first strike FG, they still allow sudden death in the event of a touchdown. The rule is a bad rule. It is NOT poorly written or misunderstood. The rule is clear, everyone understands it. But it’s just a bad rule and there hasn’t been a willingness to change the rule.
Now, imagine if the Minnesota Vikings, after giving up that field goal to the Saints, appealed to the refs in the game and made the claim that the decision awarding the win to the Saints wasn’t right. That BOTH teams should be offered the opportunity to score. After all, football should be decided by plays on the field, not the luck of a coin toss. Whats more, there is precedent for such a method and it has been wildly successful. College football has a much better system.
In the college game, when four quarters results in a tie, each team is given the opportunity to score, much like the innings of a baseball game. Rather than have a kickoff, another horribly random play that unfortunately changes the outcomes of too many games, but I digress, the college format dictates that the ball is placed at the opponent’s 25 yard line. From there, each team attempts to drive the ball and score; either by touchdown or by field goal. After each team has had the chance to score, the game is decided by whoever has the most points. In the event of a continued tie; repeat.
Back to our imaginary appeal to the referees after the Saints scored their field goal. The Vikings surly have a case to be made; it is not fair that a team can win a football game by kicking a single field goal based on who wins a coin toss. It is nearly indisputable that the college system is superior. In fact, the college rules not only assure that there will be a winner, in the regular season, an NFL game can end in a tie if no team scores in 15 minutes, but it is superior to the format currently employed by the NHL and most soccer leagues; the dreaded shoot-out. Clearly the rule, as written, is outdated, not fair and has a clear path to a better result.
The referees should absolutely rule in favor of the Minnesota Vikings, award them the ball via Saint’s kick-off and resume play.
Except that’s not how things work.
You see, it is not the job of the referees to write new rules. Their job is to adjudicate existing rules as they are written. It is the role of the owner’s competition committee to write new rules; or not, depending on the will of those owners.
And so we come to my point:
Amy Coney Barrett
6 – 3
We had a good four years! Perhaps the biggest win for the Trump years was the additions of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett. By elevating these three judges to The Supreme Court of the United States, Trump has solidified a conservative majority in the court for a generation; maybe more. But what does it mean to be a “conservative” when it comes to the Supreme Court?
What it’s not is this – A conservative Supreme Court is NOT a court that looks to uphold laws or cases that the partisan right-wing might favor. It is not the role of a conservative Court to see those partisan battle lines and take a side. A conservative Court should not care one single iota if the case being heard is one where a republican President or a democrat President favors the outcome. She should not care a single whiff that the case has the hopes and prayers of a partisan congress or even a partisan electorate writing Op Eds in the Journal or the Times. He should not care that the Senate Majority Leader is stomping on the grounds of the Senate or the Speaker is railing the same in the House.
The role of The Supreme Court of the United States is to adjudicate the law. Before it. As it is written.
The role of the court is NOT to ascertain what the Founders *may* have thought about certain events today, the changing nature of society today. The court is not to guess what the legislature might say if they could speak today.
The role of the court is to call balls and strikes. Or touchdowns and field goals.
Or overtime rules.
The reason the supreme court is such a hot button topic, and the reason why the liberal left is so emotional about the replacement of RBG by ACB, is that, for them, the court is not a arbiter of rules as written, the court is a process whereby old and archaic laws are to be refreshed, rewritten or reinterpreted. Maybe, maybe, the legislature would have included transgendered rights when they crafted Title VII of The Civil Rights Act back in 1964. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. That’s not important. What IS important is that they didn’t.
Maybe the 2nd amendment would have been written differently if the founders could have conceived a world that we find ourselves living in today. Maybe a just and noble society OUGHT restrict firearms. Maybe. Probably. But all of that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there exists a process whereby legislation can be enacted to reflect current and prevailing views. If you don’t like the laws, change the laws. Elect politicians who will submit the bill, debate the bill and pass it where it will be signed into law by an executive who has also been elected.
And if you are unable to do that, going to the supreme court to get them to change the law from what it actually says into something that you hope for it to say is outside the role of the court.
So yes, Trump getting Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett on the court is a HUGE deal. Because now we will have a court that will interpret laws and not create them. We will have a court that is not trying to ‘catch the country up’ to society that it thinks we live in.
And that right there, is a pretty strong legacy.