Because draft week is finally upon us—and because Derek Jeter called Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak” over (true) accusations of tanking—let us look at how NFL teams could stand to be better when it comes to tanking.
Jeter’s Miami Marlins, as we all know, won’t be competitive this year or in coming years after trading away all their decent-to-great players and loading up on cheap prospects. Baseball and basketball teams have this tanking thing down. The NFL…not so much.
Going into Week 17 last season, three NFL teams guaranteed to have top-10 picks had the chance to improve their draft standing simply by losing. All three teams won. The 2-13 Giants beat 7-8 Washington when a loss would have guaranteed the No. 2 pick. The 3-13 Colts would have had a shot at the No. 2 pick then had they lost to the 4-11 Texans, but Indy sent Chuck Pagano out with a 22-13 win. (The Giants and Colts still ended up 2 and 3). And a loss to the playoff-bound Saints would have assured the 4-11 Buccaneers of a top-five pick. Instead, Tampa Bay put together an 18-point fourth quarter to finish with a win, and will now pick No. 7 in the first round on Thursday.
Of course, players play and coaches coach to win the game. That’s why tanking must come from higher up. Front offices should demand to play the young guys. Sit a couple stars in the final meaningless game. Tanking exists in the NFL, but it’s not nearly as perfected as it is across other sports.
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1. USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes had a smart look at how and why so many failed NFL quarterbacks become “gurus” for the draft prospects of today and tomorrow.
2. B/R’s Master Tesfatsion hosted a roundtable of NBA and NFL players to share their stories of smoking weed in honor of last week’s 4/20 "holiday."
3. Former NFL offensive lineman Evan Mathis auctioned off his 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card for $2.88 million. Mathis told the AP he sold it to free up some cash to buy a new house.
4. Deone Bucannon, who is somehow the second longest-tenured Cardinal defender at 25 years old, is about to get a role change. First-year head coach Steve Wilks said Bucannon could play a Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis-like role, depending on the call.
5. The Buffalo Bills have 15 1 p.m. games in the 2018 slate. NFL players will tell you they would always prefer to play at 1 p.m. Sunday.
6. Seahawks GM John Schneider and wife Traci hosted a celebrity waiter event over the weekend that raised $630,000 for their non-profit, Ben’s Fund, that gives money to families impacted by autism.
7. SB Nation’s Stephen White broke down Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore, a very interesting prospect in what seems to be another down year for receivers in the draft.
8. Former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy will get his first shot at UFC in June, according to a report. Hardy was last seen playing indoor football earlier in the month, as the 2015 Cowboys were the last NFL team with the bad sense to sign him.
9. Florida great Emmitt Smith spent his weekend at Georgia’s spring game, rocking a Georgia hat with Dawgs head coach Kirby Smart. I don’t think he’ll get a pass on this.
10. Amnesty International awarded out-of-work quarterback Colin Kaepernick with its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday in Amsterdam. Kaepernick lamented the “lawful lynching of black and brown people by police” in his acceptance speech.
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