To lose or not to lose. That is the question.

Bucs SaintsThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Technically speaking, neither team has anything to play for.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to that time of the NFL season again, the very final week, when the majority of teams have been eliminated, a fortunate few have sealed a spot in the post-season and the remaining lot has relevant games which will determine whether they’re in or whether they’re out.

The Bucs and Saints are out.  Far out.  But here’s where things get interesting.

The Buccaneers have one of the worst records in the league.  They are 2-13.  Only the Tennessee Titans are equally as bad.

Goodell NFL DraftThe NFL Draft is designed to reward the worst teams in the league with the highest draft pick the following year which means either Tampa or Tennessee will have that honor.

This draft may feature two high profile quarterbacks.  I say may because both athletes are still underclassmen and neither has declared for the draft.  They both still have big games to play.  They are both also Heisman Trophy winners.  Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will become a dream draft pick for whoever decides to select him.  Similarly, many believe Florida State’s Jameis Winston will have success at the next level despite his somewhat tempestuous time in Tallahassee.  Neither of these two men are Andrew Luck, who the Colts landed in 2012.  Dubbed the next John Elway, Luck immediately transformed the Colts organization.

But let’s say a team like the Buccaneers needed a quarterback, which they do.  Let’s also suggest that they had their eyes on one of those college superstars in the hopes he could turn their franchise around.  And finally, let’s assume that a win Sunday against the New Orleans Saints would jeopardize their chance at getting one of them.

Which it would.

The Raiders, Jets and Jaguars all have three wins which means winning that game could conceivably allow the Buccaneers to draft fifth instead of first, giving one of those other four teams a shot at the top pick.

NBA Draft ping pong ballsYears ago, the NBA altered how teams qualify for the top pick in the draft.  They introduced a lottery system, meaning the team with the best record did not automatically get the top pick but rather only increased odds of getting that pick.  It was designed to ward against tanking, where teams lose on purpose in order to land rights to the best player.

No fan in their right mind, the league believed, wants to see their team lose for an entire season just to get their hands on potential salvation the following year.

The NFL does not have a lottery system.  The worst team in the league gets the top pick, plain and simple.  This is designed to instill parity.  It is not designed to prevent against tanking.

So the question remains.  Do the Buccaneers intentionally try to lose Sunday’s game to ensure better draft position?  Or perhaps “intentionally try to lose” is not the proper terminology.  Let’s just say they don’t try to win.

bucs face painterNot trying is one of the cardinal sins in all of sport.  As fans, we blast players for not giving their all.  It’s unforgivable, of course, until that final Sunday when nothing else matters, then it’s excusable.  With the underachieving seasons the Bucs have had of late, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fan who wouldn’t tell you they wanted, if not encouraged, their team to lose this Sunday to land that chance at Mariotta, Winston or whoever the organization deems is the best player to right their rickety old pirate ship.

No coach or team representative will come out and say “Yes, we intend to lose this game.”  It goes unspoken.  But there’s no way the Bucs will, or rather should (yes, I said it), try to win this Sunday’s football game.

If the Colts hadn’t “sucked for Luck,” as they did the season before drafting him, they’d still be irrelevant.  This year, thanks largely to him, they’re in the playoffs again.  This Sunday, expect the Bucs to “Suck for the Duck.”  (Note: Mariota played for the Oregon Ducks, hence the newest play on words for NFL mediocrity.)  Just don’t expect them to announce they’re doing so publicly.

Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame because he gambled on baseball.  Doing so is breaking the cardinal rule of any sport.  Having such a stake means you have a vested interest, perhaps, in losing that contest.  I’m not saying that tanking is akin to gambling but there’s definitely some gray area.  You’re intentionally, adversely affecting the outcome of a ballgame.

The Buccaneers will go out Sunday and intentionally try to lose a football game.  And they should.  That, my friends, is something you can bet on.

21 thoughts on “To lose or not to lose. That is the question.

  1. Neither of those guys will help the Bucs who will continue to be awful for decades to come. Not sure either has a great pro career either. As for losing intentionally, I think it is disgraceful. Didn’t the Bucs draft josh freeman a couple of years ago? Wasn’t he a franchise/can’t miss QB? The Bucs have bigger problems than QB. You are right about Andrew Luck though being great.

  2. I agree with you on both Winston and Mariota, D. Not sure those guys are the answer.

    But let’s say there was a Luck on the table this year and winning this game meant losing a shot at him.

    Then what?

  3. Sometimes draft picks turn out and sometimes they turn your stomach. With that in mind I’ve usually felt a NFL team should put forth an honest effort and let fate take its course. Very hard to tell people whose livelihood depends on football with an average career of three or four years to deliberately underperform. You also have to protect yourself at all times on a football field and those who let up might find themselves not getting up. In pro football I say play to the final whistle of the final game. Sometimes avoiding the #1 pick can be a blessing. The draft..it’s all a crap shoot. Herman Edwards: You play to win the game!

  4. Thanks to Stern and his rape of the Lakers, better known as the veto, I’m in the completely unfamiliar position of hoping the Lakers lose. If we can stay in the cellar, we get a top 5 pick. If we win too many games, Phoenix gets to keep the pick as part of the Nash trade…Which never would have happened were it not for Stern waving his magic veto wand.

    It’s a most daunting task to actually want your squad to lose…It not something I’ve ever done…And hopefully never will again.

  5. Like you’ve always tried to suggest sports’ fans in the Tampa Bay are are knowledgeable and insightful on their professional sports’ franchises . Now remind why it has been the reason why the Bucs have stunk up the joint for the past six seasons ? The Glazers have been bereft of intelligence over the time-frame in question and their stewardship of the franchise has become a joke and the same can said concerning Man Utd and that team’s indifferent season within the Premiership and the fact the club is still laden with debt .

    What has Lovie Smith and his coaching staff brought to the teams this season other than mediocrity and lame a$s anecdotes ? It because it sure as hell has nothing to do with leadership or competitiveness ? He’s tenure is beginning to make Schiano’s and Raheem Morris’ appear to be something of mythical proportions of efficiency and success . While Gruden brought them a championship his assessment of talent can be considered a damn joke along with the draft classes he presided over .

    Are the idiots who preside over the local publication the Pewter Report still continuing with their @ss kissing analysis concerning the Bucs merely to curry favor with the regime ?

    Tophatal …………..

  6. Yeah, Burnsy, but herein lies the problem.

    Injuries happen. Scouting reports go bad. Some players just don’t pan out. In other words… shit happens.

    And to argue your point, no franchise can afford the time to let fate take its course when fan bases demand winning immediately.

    How many coaches, GMs, starting quarterbacks, etc. do you know that can go one, two or three seasons without losing their jobs? It’s a win and win now league.

    I would also dare to venture that, at this point of the season, with a number one pick on the line, most Bucs fans are okay with their team not winning this weekend’s ballgame.

  7. Al…

    The Bucs have sucked for quite some time now, as you suggest.

    Lovie’s getting a pass this season. It was his first year here and he had no offensive coordinator.

    That being said, there will need to be dramatic improvement next year or fans will start to get a little perturbed.

    Rightfully so.

  8. No team should ever lose a game intentionally, for any reason. If a team is secure in a playoff position, they should not rest players when the outcome of their game would effect another team’s chances of making the post season. If it is deemed they did rest players, a lost draft pick should result.

    On the question of Mariota or Winston, it’s a no-brainer for the Bucs. Mariota has a career 101-12 touchdown pass to interception ratio. Winston is 64-27.

  9. I think Byron knew what he was getting into. Dude bleeds PnG and knew it was a going to be an uphill climb.

    The real question is will Jim & Mitch be able to snag a star or three over the next couple years.

    Lakers fans are a petulant bunch. The quick fix is getting that draft pick from PHX, signing a Marc Gasol or LaMarcus Aldridge and hopefully Goran Dragic or trade for Michael Carter Williams. Pray Julius Randle bounces back like Blake Griffin did and then go after Kevin Durant the following off season when Kobe comes off the books. If those pieces or similar type moves happen, Kobe can re-up for less for one or two years and try to be part of another title team.

    Then again, I may be completely blinded by my Lakers faith…Time will tell.

  10. Coach…

    If losing this Sunday’s game were to mean securing the draft pick they wanted that could help that out of their doldrums for the next twelve years, then I think it’s okay to give them a pass in a loss. Consider it an investment in their future.

    Normally I’d agree with you but I’m not so sure I can in this case.

  11. Bleed…

    I just think Kobe’s ego is so strong that he’ll refuse to play second fiddle as long as he’s in uniform. That will dissuade the organization from landing any other alpha male.

    Might be another two years, man.

    At least.

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  13. I don’t know the last time I was so happy. The Lightning won again last night, the Seminoles are in the national title game, the Buccaneers will get the number one draft pick in a year that it’s beneficial. Why am I the only person who cares equally about the Buccaneers and the Lightning? Does anyone notice how Valterri Filppula transformed the Lightning, the way Chris Humphreys indicates that Andrew Luck transformed the Colts?

  14. Greg…

    I’ve already been to four Lightning games this season and a combined zero Rays and Bucs game. What’s that tell ya’?

    The Buccaneers totally need to lose this game today. Even the announcers are talking about.

    So what do they do? They go on out and play their asses off to win.

    They put the fun in dysfunction, that’s for sure.

  15. Chris

    Lovie Smith , gets a pass for this season , after he and his staff have proven to be even more incompetent than Greg Schiano , his immediate predecessor ? What has Smith brought to this organization, where the players simply haven’t responded at all ?

    Is it any wonder this franchise remains a frigging joke at every level of its being ? Any player currently on the roster who makes it unto the Pro Bowl roster isn’t deserving of that accolade or plaudit at all .

    It’s now getting so bad, the Bucs’ last winning season much less playoff appearance are becoming a distant memory . Who could want for anything more ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!! I’d love to hear a Buccaneers’ fans explanation for the organization’s ongoing mediocrity and where the improvements are possibly coming from ? More draft picks who happen to be complete busts along with lame @ss trades ? I mean, where has Vincent Jackson been all this season ? Wasn’t he meant to be the veteran presence on offense who was going to lead this team? What an absolute goddamn mess . Lovie Smith has brought nothing to the table and his post-game interviews are embarrassing .

    Money well spent , you think ? More like considerable waste on a number of players .

  16. And as things turned out Tampa is now on the clock…I trust they will keep their draft position but normally at least a couple teams make a run at the pick holder offering multiple picks/players. When you need SO much help the temptation is always there to at least consider “Plan B.” Time will tell but congrats to the Bucs. (I still think the Orange creamsicle unis from years gone by are better than that slop they sport now…)

  17. “It’s now getting so bad, the Dolphins’ last playoff victory much less playoff appearance are becoming a distant memory.” Every single year in this century, I’ve been glad I’m not a fan of the Dolphins. I’m sure that sportsattitudes has nothing to congratulate the Dolphins for in this century. I don’t know why I’m the only Tampa resident who mentions the Dolphins and who mentions that the Lightning are one of the best teams in the league, whenever Tampa’s mandatory discussions about the Buccaneers arise.

  18. Well, Al, I don’t know that Lovie gets a complete pass. I mean, there are plenty of people that are clearly not crazy about the job he did, are skeptical about his assessment of talent and concerned about next year. That being said, the guy’s not getting fired. Yet.

    One thing’s for sure. Number one draft pick or not, it’s a sad state of football affairs in the Tampa Bay area.

  19. I agree, Burnsy.

    I can’t stand these new digital uniforms. Who the hell did they test them against and who decided that was a good idea? They’re horrible.

    At a minimum, they have that top draft pick to either find one of their missing pieces or trade it for some value. I just hope they get as much as they can for it.

  20. Greg…

    At least the Dolphins have showed some signs of improvement over the past few years. The Buccaneers have not.

    Besides, nobody in their right mind truly expects the Dolphins, or anyone else in the AFC East, to compete in that division until Tom Brady retires.

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