Dak Prescott coin toss gaffe may cause NFL to simplify rules next season

Liz Roscher

The Dak Prescott coin toss gaffe that happened during the Week 15 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams was one of the more surreal and strange moments of the waning 2019 NFL season — and it might lead to a change in the rules to prevent it from happening again.

NFL will discuss simplifying coin toss

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL’s competition committee is “expected” to discuss the issue during the offseason.

Via Schefter:

The NFL could consider simplifying the rules of what players have to say for the 2020 season, according to sources. The discussion is expected to center around whether there is a way to simplify the language regarding the opening coin toss.

Simplifying the language around a heads-or-tails coin toss seems extreme, but let’s review what happened in Week 15 that led to this extreme weirdness.

Week 15 coin toss kerfuffle

At the start of the Cowboys-Rams game, Dallas won the coin toss. When referee Walt Anderson asked Prescott what the Cowboys wanted to do, he said “defense ... kicking it that way,” and then pointed to the Rams. He did eventually say “defer,” which is what the NFL requires team captains to say to indicate what they want to do with the ball, but said “we defer to the second half” when Anderson tried to figure out just what Prescott was trying to communicate.

There was a lot of confusion surrounding what was said when, and even the game audio isn’t completely clear. The NFL had to intervene to fix things in the second half and make sure that the Rams weren’t going to receive again. After the game, Prescott admitted that his choice of words could have been better, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence admitted to contributing to the on-field confusion.

The goal of the NFL would be to simplify the language to avoid situations like that (even though they’re exceedingly rare). It’s not clear how much simpler the language could get, but the NFL’s competition committee will try to figure that out. Let’s all hope they don’t accidentally make it more complicated in the process.

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