What do the Colts, Patriots, Chargers, Ravens, Steelers, Eagles, Giants, and Saints have in common besides yearly double digit wins, Super Bowl rings and consistent playoff appearances? It's obvious, they all have franchise QB’s. With the absence of Peyton Manning this season, we all know the value of one, even though the 0-3 Colts are playing their best defense in years.
As the season progresses we are going to hear a lot from the media about Andrew Luck of the Stanford Cardinal. Luck has already been anointed as a franchise savior for any team that gets him. I actually wish that the media both big and small would leave the kid alone to enjoy what is most likely his last year of college football. However, I don’t think it will happen and I guess by writing this I am just as guilty for bringing more attention to him.
Speculation run rampant
John Elway was wary of playing for the Colts, so he played the baseball card. Will Luck play the eligibility card?
As the losses pile on for some teams there will be bar room, board room and living room speculation that maybe a team or two are playing to lose in order to secure the first overall pick in 2012 to land the potential franchise QB. It’s already starting to surface as the "suck for luck" campaign and it will get even more prominent as time goes on as losses pile up.
So the basic question remains, will a team purposely position themselves to lose as many games as they can in order to land Mr. Luck?
First of all, to speculate that a team is losing on purpose so they can win the prize on draft day is a very serious allegation. One would be saying that an owner, a GM and a coach are conspiring to lose a game(s) they could probably win. Well that concept goes against the foundation of the integrity of the game and would be extremely damaging to the NFL if it did occur.
What would have to happen?
If a head coach was asked by his owner to let off the throttle and play for a loss (or losses) he would have to make some decision that would most likely come with much criticism. In todays microscope media world there isn’t much that you can slip by the watchful eye of the media or fans. If a coach did want to comply with his owner’s request he would have to make some bad personnel decisions and get ready to be embarrassed and criticized on game day. I don’t know too many coaches who would be willing to sell out and prepare for a loss. As a matter of fact, I think many NFL coaches would quit before doing such a thing.
The bottom line is it would have to be a direct order from the owner and carried out by a head coach who is most likely scared to death of that owner. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that just about every GM and HC would love to have Luck because it would most likely lead to job security for the next 10 years if he were as good as advertised. So where would they draw the line between ethics, winning now for pride versus winning for a long time to come? Call me naïve, but I don’t think todays owners would take the risk in scheming to lose.
Sitting on their wallets
We already know there are about eight or nine NFL teams who are happily sitting on their wallets and hoping their coaches and players can generate some wins and excitement. These owners will only spend when required to by the new CBA when the per team required minimum floor kicks in in 2013.
So are these groups of owners really planning on losing as many games as possible? I doubt it. And yes, there are some very cheap and greedy owners but those owners would not sink so low as to throw a game to get a franchise QB.
So as many owners reap millions by not signing their best talent and not spending on free agents, don’t be too quick to say they are playing the Luck sweepstakes. Even Tampa Bay players and coaches have proven that with little money you can take a team to ten wins in spite of the lack of financial commitment.
Then there’s the ultimate head fake
It’s the last week of the 2011 NFL regular season and there is a three-way race for the NFL’s worst record. All the media talk will be focused on which team will land Luck by having the worst record. The speculation will reach its peak as to what team may prepare to lose and well, just not try hard to win.
But wait, Andrew Luck has another year of eligibility, he already turned down being the top pick in 2011 and his values are such that if he and his family believe the organization who can draft him is not committed to winning at all costs he may choose Stanford. So he decides to stay another year and play for the Cardinal. He loves the Stanford geek experience, his teammates and coaches. It’s my understanding he pays very little attention to any NFL chatter and shies away from the media. If there is ever a guy who could shock the football world by staying another year, it’s Andrew Luck.
Follow me on Twitter: @jackbechta
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