Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
Maybe you’ve heard about the big fuss in New York about how the Jets made the playoffs. You can’t say the proverbial “they backed into it” cause they actually won their last two games. But the Colts pulled their regulars for most of the second half (giving up a 15-10 lead) to lose to the Jets. And the Bengals, based on reports this week, did literally little or nothing to game plan for the Jets before their 37-0 loss since they will play the rematch (now it counts) this weekend.
While this has been going on forever (some teams try and some don’t, depending on their situation or their “team philosophy”), this year was particularly bad because the Jets were the beneficiaries of two, essentially, lay downs by two playoff teams.
SHOULD THE JETS OR THEIR FANS CARE?
Absolutely not! They got in and that’s all that matters. Some people say the Jets were 7-7. But whatever happened to that famous Bill Parcells quote: “You are what your record says you are.” Is that true in games where stars on the other team sit? Is that true when the superstar QB doesn’t play half the game? Well, if you try and interpret (the Eagles definitely tried against the Cowboys, right? And got killed) what teams do, you’ll travel down a slippery slope. The Bengals didn’t try against the Jets, the Cardinals didn’t try against the Packers, the Eagles didn’t try against the Cowboys (I thought they did with a bye on the line – they just got smoked). What if you played the 0-16 Lions last year? Well, they tried, presumably, every game. Should that count as an NFL win?
Hopefully, you get the point.
SHOULD THE HOUSTON TEXANS CARE?
Absolutely! They would have made the playoffs if the Colts had beaten the Jets by playing to win for 60 minutes (very likely) or if the Bengals had beaten the Jets by playing to win for 60 minutes (unlikely). The Texans got the short end of this ethical stick.
SHOULD THE NFL CARE?
Absolutely! This was a bad year for the NFL come the end of the season. With fear of injuries (it says here the Colts will once again rest their regulars, lose at the end of the season, get a bye and not win the Super Bowl), lots of teams took a week off (or two, in the case of the Colts – although they managed to let Reggie Wayne play in a snowstorm in Buffalo to get his 100th catch. Interesting, no?). This makes the NFL look bad and should make them think long and hard before they change to an 18-game schedule (what a disaster that will be from both a trying perspective AND an additional injury perspective – teams can’t stay healthy in a 16-game season).
But, hey, maybe those teams that took games off were right. Look what happened to Wes Welker, lost for the playoffs and maybe (who knows) part of next season as well as the Patriots played to win.
DOES THIS HURT THE INTEGRITY OF THE NFL?
OF COURSE IT DOES!!! Do you think it’s a conversation? The NFL, a couple of years ago, concluded that teams have the right to do this because they’ve earned it by winning so much. But have they? They’ve earned the right to lay down? To play like it’s the fourth exhibition game? When other teams have their own playoff hopes on the line?
That sounds ridiculous.
BUT WHAT CAN REALLY BE DONE?
Now, that’s the REALLY hard question. The NFL will look at this (again) in the off-season. One suggestion is to give those teams that try (if you can imagine) an extra draft pick – Chris Mortensen said maybe at the end of the first round.
Yikes! You go 14-0 (so, presumably, you’re the best or one of the best teams in football), don’t dump and get an extra first-round pick. Talk about the rich getting richer. Would the Colts have gotten two extra first-round pocks this year if they had tried their last two games? If it’s an 18-game season, can a team get four extra picks? You get the point.
And that’s the real problem. You can’t rely on the out-dated notion of trying your best, of giving effort every week, of being proud of what you do (certainly the Colt players wanted to play but were pulled by a management decision).
As long as the fear of injury outweighs the notion of staying at the top of your game (and obviously it does for teams like the Colts and the Bengals and the Cardinals), there’s very little the league can do about it.
WHAT ABOUT THE GAMBLERS AND THE FANTASY PLAYERS?
Well, somewhere deep down, the NFL understands that its sport has increased in popularity more than any other sport due to gambling (see, for example, injury reports). What would the NFL be today without gambling? Not nearly the behemoth it is now.
But no real intelligent bettor could seriously bet one of these games (or, maybe, you would always bet against the team that’s not going to try it’s hardest).
Does the NFL care about the gamblers? Well, contrary to what they publicly say, you have to think that they do (see again, injury reports).
It says here that there is very little the NFL can do to MAKE an NFL team play to win. Even if they forced teams to do it, you can’t make a pro player try his best. If they were all prideful players with a healthy respect for sport, there might be a chance.
But that ship sailed many years ago.
© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.