What Is Tanking In Football – Terminology

Each year there is an elite quarterback prospect the bottom teams in the NFL will begin to get accused of tanking.

Tanking refers to the process of intentionally losing football games in order to improve your position in the upcoming draft.

The NFL draft allows the team to pick in order of how they placed in the previous year. So if you came last in the league you will receive the first overall pick in the draft.

Why Are Teams Willing To Tank For A High Pick?

You may be wondering why teams are willing to lose games to receive a higher draft pick? Isn’t the intention to win more games?

Well, you would be right winning more games is exactly why a team would purposely lose to get the first overall draft pick.

If you look at just about any NFL team over the last five years you will find they will almost always have a franchise quarterback. To sacrifice a single season to get yourself a franchise quarterback is a fairly easy decision.

Teams will happily come last place if it means they will have their quarterback for the next fifteen years.

The issue is nobody wants to watch a team intentionally lose games. Not to mention the players and coaches themselves don’t have any interest in losing.

Is Tanking Accepted In The NFL?

The short answer to this question is no. If a team were to blatantly tank and attempt to lose games this would not be accepted by the league.

Some fans believe that the NFL is rigged due to tanking but this is simply not true.

Teams care too much about their image and respect for the league to purposely lose games.

The closest you will see to tanking in the NFL is done through personnel decisions.

An NFL team may not attempt to sign a new quarterback if they know they are several good prospects coming up in next years draft.

This may cause the team to lose games with the intention of getting a quarterback. Whether you want to consider tanking is up to you.

Oftentimes teams will essentially tank with a stop-gap quarterback in order to achieve a high pick to draft their franchise qb.

How Do Other Leagues Handle Tanking?

Both the NHL and NBA feature draft lotteries in order to stop tanking from being as prevelant. A draft lottery works by shaking up the order of the picks in the draft.

The NBA lottery takes the teams with the top four picks and draws numbered balls in order to randomize the order. The teams that finish in a worse position have a higher likely hood of receiving the first overall pick.

The NHL has taken a much more extreme stance on anti tanking by giving the bottom fifteen teams a chance at the first-round pick in the lottery. This means if you come in fifteenth place out of thirty you still have a shot at the number one pick.

In fact, if you come in last place you only have an 18% chance of getting the first overall pick. This has drawn some criticism as a team that comes in last place without tanking will struggle to improve if they are given a poor pick.

Concluding Thoughts

We hope this guide to tanking in football has taught you everything you needed to know. If you have any further questions regarding tanking in football you can reach out in the comments below.

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