In the NFL, tanking is always the right thing to do — if your team is capable of it — because the middle class is not a place you want to be in.
President-elect Joe Biden promised a rebuilding of the American middle class in his first speech as the elected POTUS. While sports can be a microcosm of society, being in the middle class in the NFL isn’t. In fact, it’s the worst place to be for an NFL franchise.
Tanking is an evil word in sports. In fact, former NFL player Emmanuel Acho has said on FS1’s Speak for Yourself, tanking in the NFL is impossible because you have 53 different agendas on an NFL roster.
To an extent, that’s true — but in a way, it isn’t. In addition, if the roster isn’t good enough to be an annual contender, tanking is actually the best option to get back to the top.
The Mediocrity Complex
For NFL fans who say that a real fan would never root for their team to lose, there’s actually a good case for rooting for your favorite team to lose.
The system is set up so that it’s better to be either really bad or really good in the NFL. If a team is neither of those things, they could be stuck in the middle for a long time.
The Dallas Cowboys are the perfect example.
Dallas has been stuck in Limbo for the longest time. Their last Super Bowl win was Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 season. In the 24 seasons — before this season — they actually have nine playoff appearances with only seven seasons under 0.500.
Therein lies the problem: the Cowboys have been good enough to hang around the playoff picture, and either sneak in or just barely miss. Before this season, the Cowboys were always just a piece or two away.
That’s the absolute worst place to be.
The “Loser Mentality” Farce
The structure of the NFL is such that teams should be able to climb out of the hole relatively quickly. In the age of free agency and the salary cap, it’s much easier to not keep the losing mentality because of roster turnover.
The 49ers went from two seasons in which they combined for 10 total wins, to playing in the Super Bowl. (They are dealing with a myriad of injuries this season, and are struggling as a result.) Before that, the Indianapolis Colts went from 3-13 in back-to-back seasons, to perennial playoff and Super Bowl contenders. Until this season, the Patriots were always among the favorites, as well.
The truth about the “losing mentality” isn’t that losing, in and of itself, breeds losing.
The continuous losing comes from consistent mistakes being made. If you hire the right general manager and coach, the “losing mentality” ends because they get the roster right.
The thing about the NFL is that staying on top is the key. It’s also very difficult to be consistently bad in the NFL. There is an exception for some franchises.
In sports, “tanking” is an evil word. In addition, “Trust the Process” has become a punchline. However, in the end, you need to tank in the NFL to become successful. Unfortunately, we are in an NFL system where teams need to tank, and fans should trust the process.
That’s just the way it is.
(Featured Image Credit: NBC Sports)