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(EDITOR’S NOTE: To listen to Upton Bell, click on the following link: ▶ Ep 103: Discussing The New NFL OT Rules With Upton Bell | Spreaker)

When the NFL this week voted to change overtime rules for playoff games – allowing each team to have at least one possession -- it did more than satisfy coaches, fans and Bills’ Mafia.

It sacrificed drama.

That’s the opinion of former NFL executive Upton Bell, and he should know. His father, former NFL commissioner Bert Bell, is the individual who devised sudden-death overtime, a rule that helped make the 1958 Colts-Giants championship contest “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

How? Simple. Drama. It was everywhere.

“In many ways,” said Upton Bell on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast, “(it was) Shakespearean in its nature. Everything that could happen happened in a game like that. Six turnovers. Fumbles. Interceptions. Crazy plays. Great defensive stands. Great offensive execution. It had everything.”

Again, he should know. He was at Yankee Stadium that afternoon.

The Colts won in overtime when John Unitas drove them on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, punctuated by Alan Ameche’s one-yard touchdown run. But it was the drama of that overtime that we remember … because it was sudden death. The team that scored first won.

And the team that didn’t? Sudden death.

It was a brilliant idea, but Bert Bell didn’t dream it up that season. According to his son, he thought about it years before while watching the annual Chicago College All-Star game, a preseason contest where the defending NFL champions played star college seniors from the season before. The game was played from 1934-76, with only one interruption – 1974 due to a players’ strike – and it was extraordinarily popular.

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“My father said, ‘What happens if the championship game in December ends up in a tie?” Bell said. “He said, ‘Are we going to look ridiculous and flip a coin … and, therefore, the winner that’s going to play the All Stars is really not the winner but one of the teams that tied? ‘ And he said, ‘It’s important for the image of the league, as well as rewarding the team that really should win the game.’

“There were owners, by the way, who were reluctant to change it the way it was: Game ends up in a tie, it ends up in a tie. But he said, ‘It can add drama to it. It can put us on the front pages. It’s very, very important.’ He finally got it pushed through and said he never thought he’d see it … until, of course, 1958.”

In 1974 the NFL extended sudden death overtime to regular-season and preseason games. In 2010, it tweaked the rule, allowing one side a possession (again, in overtime) if the team receiving the opening kickoff produced a field goal. Two years later, the rule was extended to regular-season games.  And that's how overtimes stood ... until last season’s Buffalo-Kansas City playoff thriller, when the Chiefs ended a frenetic finish with a TD on their first drive of overtime.

Immediately afterward, critics called the rule unfair and lobbied for both sides to have at least one overtime possession.

Now they will … at least in the playoffs.

“Today’s rule makes everybody happy,” said Bell. “Both teams happy. The fans happy. (My father’s) idea wasn’t necessarily happiness. It was the drama. Back to Shakespeare. The drama … sudden death. You know what? Flip of the coin. Your future or your past. “

It was a good rule then. It’s a dead rule now. At least in the playoffs, it is. So what would Bert Bell have to say about it?

“One of the things that made him and Pete Rozelle great commissioners was their ability to adjust,” said Bell’s son. “And I think this year’s opinion would be: That would be a great rule for its time.

"The game has changed. It’s really (about) offense. Defense in the NFL in the ‘60s … that was the game. Today, every rule written in now is to get rid of the defense. It’s ridiculous. You can’t touch the receiver. You can’t touch the quarterback. You can’t touch anybody.

"So, in relation to this time, he probably would’ve said, ‘I like my rule, but the rule for today is with the offense – the way the NFL wants it for television and everything else. This now satisfies everybody’ … Basically, I think Bert Bell would say, ‘It’s not what it was meant to be. But, for today, that’s the way it should be.”