2003 NFL Draft 2003 NFL Draft

Combine Notebook

Overtime debate rages on at combine

Posted: Wednesday February 19, 2003 5:59 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The NFL competition committee previewed its biggest issue this week when it discussed overtime.

As is likely throughout the debate, no consensus was reached.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said he would like to see changes to the overtime system, in which the coin toss has increasingly become a determinant factor in victory. Last season, 40 percent of the record 25 overtime games were won by the team that won the coin toss on the first possession.

The committee will hold more formal meetings in March before the annual league meeting in Phoenix.

During this week's three-day meeting, Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, the co-chairman, endorsed minor changes and at least two of his colleagues appeared to support him.

"It would change your coaching strategy, no question," new Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, suggesting that kickoffs could be moved up in overtime to avoid giving the receiving team field position that would make scoring easier on the first drive.

Fisher and Indianapolis president Bill Polian, another committee member, said Tuesday it would be difficult to forge a consensus.

Fisher said the committee wanted to determine first why the number of overtime games had increased so dramatically.

Some coaches don't believe major changes, such as assuring each team of at least one possession, are necessary.

"I might want my defense on the field first," Lewis said with a smile. "A lot of times, I'd like to lose the toss and play defense first."

Jake's sake

The Arizona Cardinals have made a contract offer to quarterback Jake Plummer, a potential free agent.

Whether Plummer will accept the offer or become a free agent is still unclear.

Head coach Dave McGinnis declined to elaborate on the offer to the QB, who can become an unrestricted free agent March 1, but acknowledged he would like Plummer back if things can be worked out.

If not, McGinnis said he would not be afraid to start backup Josh McCown or look for a quarterback in the draft.

"It's part of the negotiation process," McGinnis said. "We are in negotiations, and we'll see where it goes."

Johnson & Johnson

Wisconsin offensive linemen Ben and Al Johnson, who are cousins spent 11 years battling over everything from performance on the field to who was taller.

Now, they're both at the NFL Scouting Combine -- rooting for each other.

"It's not as much as when we were younger," Al Johnson said. "We kind of grew out of that stage after 11 years. Now we want what's best for the other guy."

Ben Johnson wins the battle of the statistics. He measured in at 6-foot-6, 329 pounds. Al Johnson was listed at 6-4, 305.

While Al Johnson has the edge in the overall rankings and could be the first center taken in the draft, he admits some aspects of their rivalry remain strong.

"Obviously, we want get drafted higher than the other guy," Al Johnson said.

Related information
Stories's 2003 Mock Draft -- Version 1.0
Notre Dame C Jeff Faine: Draft diary
Justin Gage: 2003 NFL Draft Mailbag
NFL hoping to avert conflicts with more regimented combine
Users' Mock Drafts: Feb. 18
Visit Video Plus for the latest audio and video

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.