Turns out that the NFL coin toss has a bit of a twist. Many fans think that, if you win the toss, it means you decide whether to kick or receive in the first half, and then the other team gets to do the same in the second half, but it doesn't.
Instead, winning the coin toss means that you get to decide whether you'll make the decision in the first half or the second, and the other team gets to decide in the other half.
There's a subtle, but important difference.
A good way to illustrate it is with the fact that a player recently got benched by the coach because he made a mistaken call after his team won the toss. His team wanted to kick off to start the game, and get the ball to start the second half. So, he said, "We want to be on defense", which is another way of saying "we want to kick off."
But, because of the way the rule works, you should NEVER say you want to kick off. You can say that you want to receive but, if you want it in the second half, you should say "defer".
"Defer" means that you will choose whether to kick or receive in the second half, and you'll let the other team decide now. In other words, no team ever chooses to kick off.
1. If they want the ball now, they say "receive." Then, the other team will call receive in the second half.
2. If they want the ball in the second half, they say "defer." Then, the other team will choose to receive, and they will choose to receive in the second half.
If, instead, you win the coin toss and say you will kick off, then the other team will choose to receive in the second half, and they will get the ball first in both halves.
In short, the NFL coin toss rule is not an example of Strategic Simplicity®.
© 2024 Praveen Puri