Today's Tidbit... Playing For Extra Time In Portland
The New York Giants spent their 1955 training camp on the Willamette College campus in Salem, Oregon, and played a late August exhibition game against the Los Angeles Rams at Portland's Multnomah Stadium. The game was the brainchild of Harry Glickman, a local promoter interested in selling as many tickets as possible to the event. Rather than relying solely on the game to provide the draw, he petitioned and received permission from the NFL to employ two innovations during the game.
The first innovation was to number the yard lines from 0 to 100 rather than from 0 to 50, as was the norm. The renumbering idea had been around since at least the mid-1940s, but this game is the only instance I know in which the idea saw game use. Unfortunately, I could not find an image of the field that day.
The second innovation was that the teams would play a "sudden death" overtime period if they played to a tie after 60 minutes. Discussion of the innovations was part of many articles previewing the event.
The newspaper also touted the stars that played for both teams, including the Giants' punter-defensive back-defensive coordinator Tom Landry.
Since few of us have seen a field numbered from 0 to 100, that innovation is now considered an oddity. The other innovation kicked in only if the teams played to a tie during regulation time, and guess what? They played to a 17-17 tie in regulation time.
The teams flipped a coin for the second time that day, with the advantage going to the Rams, who chose to receive. After fielding the kick on the goal line and returning it 20 yards, the Rams took eight plays to cross the goal line, giving them a 23-17 victory in the NFL's first overtime game. The Giants, of course, did not get the ball in overtime.
The sudden death procedure next saw use in the 1958 championship game before being implemented for NFL regular season games in 1974.
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. Support this site with a paid subscription or by using one of the other links below.