One of the ugliest terms used in connection with sports is “tanking.” It’s the accusation that bad teams intentionally lose games in hopes of compiling the league’s worst record, thereby gaining the No. 1 pick in the draft. Former Miami Dolphins’ Coach Brian Flores previously accused that team of telling him to tank, and many people believe the Cleveland Browns tanked from 2015-2017 when they won four games and plucked two prize quarterbacks out of the draft.
Enter Sports Illustrated, which earlier today urged five NFL teams to tank in the upcoming season. Writer Conor Orr says he opposes tanking, but nevertheless, encouraged the Cardinals, Rams, Ravens, Titans and Buccaneers to mail it in and prioritize the 2024 draft over the 2023 season. People who purchase tickets to these five teams’ games would be cheated out of spending money in good faith and believing their teams are actually competing to win.
Does anyone think mobsters who love cleaning up on sure bets would not benefit mightily from these or any other teams playing to lose? Nah.
Orr says that if the NFL hasn’t punished the Browns for playing awful enough to land two consecutive No. 1 picks, then it won’t punish any team for tanking. However, he adds a qualifying remark by writing, “Make no mistake, I think tanking is an abhorrent deal. Teams that do it are putting player health and wellness on the line for a year or more, just so they can be better at a time when many of those players won’t be around.”
That being said, Orr advises the Cardinals to take their foot off the pedal in ‘23 and tank away. “Arizona needs options. It needs flexibility. This is one avenue that would keep a few parties happy. ... No one would blame the Cardinals for not going for it if, say, (injured QB Kyler) Murray isn’t ready to play until mid-October.”
If the Ravens don’t trade away QB Lamar Jackson this year, it will be a dreadful and unwatchable season. By tanking, they have a shot at USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams (appearing in photo).
The Titans have one of the older teams in the NFL, and Orr prompted them to think of improving their lot by tanking, too. “If you’re the Titans, can you honestly look at the roster as presently constructed and think that a Super Bowl is in the cards?” he asks. Or they can tank and re-load ASAP.
Tampa Bay lost Tom Brady, it could bottom out and “Turning this roster over is going to be a haul,” Orr writes. It might be wise for the Bucs to take the long view, er uh, tank. A quick, intentional freefall could be the Bucs’ solution.
The Rams could definitely make tanking work in order to improve their lot, as Orr writes:
“Having someone like Williams in McVay’s hands would be an NFL fever dream. McVay has the kind of clout to be able to make it happen. GM Les Snead is innovative and fearless enough to make it work.”
The last thing NFL teams need is for high-profile media to encourage tanking. The fans and integrity be damned. Ticket buyers are just suckers who don’t figure into any of Orr’s equations. The NFL has already alienated many fans with its woke nonsense. By shrinking integrity and encouraging tanking, the league would only lose more respect.
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