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No quit in the NFL

Hard to believe teams tank games for draft position

Posted: Tuesday December 13, 2005 11:07AM; Updated: Tuesday December 13, 2005 2:58PM
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Herman Edwards' Jets beat the Raiders last Sunday, hurting their chances of ending up with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Herman Edwards' Jets beat the Raiders last Sunday, hurting their chances of ending up with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Should the NFL institute a draft lottery?
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As I set out to research this week's "Inside the NFL'' column for Sports Illustrated on the first pick in the draft, the subject of tanking games in order to give a losing team the best chance at the top overall pick came up. I asked some league people about it, including Jets coach Herman Edwards, whose team would have been in contention for the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes had it continued  losing. He sounded shocked the point would even be raised. "We work too hard around here trying to win,'' he said. "You could never ask people to do that.'' Meaning, lose on purpose.

But the Houston-area media has to ask that question now with the bizarre way the Texans are losing. I asked Houston GM Charley Casserly the question Monday and what he told me appears in the magazine this week. I can tell you, though, that the question insults him and the Texans.

I bring all of this up because of the first query out of the mailbag this morning.

WHY DOESN'T THE NFL HAVE A LOTTERY? From Tim Spelman of New York: "Why doesn't the NFL adopt the NBA draft order process and hold a lottery so that every non-playoff team has a shot at the No. 1 pick. This would mean that tanking the end of your season doesn't guarantee you the first pick in the draft.''

I asked league officials that question the other day and I was told that there's no evidence that teams have tried to lose intentionally. In fact, just the opposite happens. The Cardinals had a chance at the top pick entering the last weekend two years ago in a home game with Minnesota, which needed a victory to make the playoffs. Arizona completed a touchdown pass on the last play of the game to knock the Vikes out of it -- and to knock themselves down the drafting rung. I understand your point, Tim. But until some team sits its starters in order to try to lose, I don't think the NFL will do it.

THE REID RESOURCE. From Joshua Roberts of Philadelphia: "Now that Indianapolis has clinched home field in the AFC and the Eagles are out of playoff contention, would Tony Dungy call up Andy Reid and ask him about Philadelphia's experience from last year? Do coaches seek advice from other coaches?''

Maybe. And yes. Reid would be a great resource for Dungy. Speaking of the Colts, remember that they were in a similar situation last year and Dungy rested his guys in the last regular-season game against Denver. The Colts got crushed, then beat up the Broncos in the first playoff game. My feeling is he's going to play the varsity this week (he even said as much Monday) against San Diego, then play the top guys the majority of the game in Seattle to try to keep them on top of their game. The big question is the last game of the year against Arizona, at home. That's when I think Jim Sorgi's going to see quite a bit of playing time.