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Old 03-16-2003, 05:59 AM   #1
Anthony
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Lightbulb NFL Draft Lottery: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

One of the most fascinating - if overlooked - developments from the 2001 NFL regular season was how tough the league's two worst teams, Carolina and Detroit, played their opponents almost week in and week out. Could this have had something to do with the fact that no matter how many games they lost, neither team was going to land the top pick in the 2002 draft since that position was already reserved for the expansion Houston Texans?

It is my view that this was precisely the case - and it points out the need for the NFL to implement a lottery to determine which teams get the top selections in the first round of draft.

The approach I have come up with is in one respect the opposite of the NBA lottery, in that the worst team would get the fewest balls - not the most - and each team is eliminated from the lottery when a ball bearing its logo is drawn. At present, 20 NFL teams do not make the playoffs; the number of balls each team would receive is shown in the chart below:

Worst Team = 1 ball.......................11th Worst Team = 66 balls
2nd Worst Team = 3 balls...............12th Worst Team = 78 balls
3rd Worst Team = 6 balls................13th Worst Team = 91 balls
4th Worst Team = 10 balls..............14th Worst Team = 105 balls
5th Worst Team = 15 balls..............15th Worst Team = 120 balls
6th Worst Team = 21 balls..............16th Worst Team = 136 balls
7th Worst Team = 28 Balls..............17th Worst Team = 153 balls
8th Worst Team = 36 balls..............18th Worst Team = 171 balls
9th Worst Team = 45 balls..............19th Worst Team = 190 balls
10th Worst Team = 55 balls............20th Worst Team = 210 balls


If two or more teams finish with the same record, the division tie-breaking procedures would apply if all of the tied teams are from the same division, the wild-card tie-breakers if they are from different divisions but are all from the same conference, and if both conferences are represented in the tied segment, the wild-card tie-breakers are also applied, but omitting the steps in which the words "within the conference" appear (such as the second step, which is won-lost record within the conference).

The lottery would be used to determine the top five picks only; in the remainder of the first round (and throughout all subsequent rounds) teams would draft in reverse order of their records, except that as between teams finishing with the same record and not winning one of the top five picks, the order in which each team was eliminated from the lottery would be used to break the tie in the first round, with the tied teams then alternating priority in the later rounds (strength of schedule no longer being used).

A lottery accomplishes two things: It eliminates the incentive for teams to "tank" late-season games to guarantee themselves a high draft pick, and, if a situation arises where a non-playoff team finished with a better record than a playoff team, they would have the opportunity (albeit a highly improbable one) to obtain "poetic justice" by winning a top pick in the lottery - as the NBA's Orlando Magic did in 1993; that year, Orlando, an Eastern Conference team, was 41-41 and finished two games ahead of the Lakers, who made the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference; the Magic won the lottery and used the pick to select Chris Webber (who they then immediately traded to Golden State for Penny Hardaway and three other draft picks).
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Old 03-17-2003, 03:56 PM   #2
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I hate lotteries. They make no sense to me. The team who lost the most gets the first pick. End of story, end of idea.

Mark me up for a big fat NO to an NFL Draft lottery.

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Old 03-17-2003, 04:47 PM   #3
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I like lotteries. They are monkey wrenches in the sports world. Makes life interesting for the fans.

That is one hell of a post Anthony. Good points on Detroit and Carolina competing til the bitter end. You're lottery system Anthony is also interesting. I like it overall, not to say I wouldn't have to see how it played out, but look at the NBA where a team like the Cavs are tanking it for LeBron James. Interesting stuff.
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Old 03-17-2003, 05:47 PM   #4
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78, you shock me. You usually hate monkey wrenches in sports. What gives?

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Old 03-17-2003, 06:39 PM   #5
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I lean towards short meaningful regular seasons with limited playoff teams mostly.

I like the idea of the guys in suits pulling all nighters in regards to who to draft, who to keep on roster, and so on and so forth. That's why I don't like expanded seasons, games, rosters, and I am for little perks to keep the big wigs in toe. It's basiclly because I ultimately hate the guys in suits and want to see them suffer !...LOL. Well, it's not just that, but it's a bonus.

Plus, this makes every game, every second, every decision magnified, stressful, and exciting...IT'S FANTASTIC THAT WAY !

DO OR DIE ....365 DAYS A YEAR....ON THE FIELD AND FRONT OFFICE...THAT'S WHAT MAKES SPORTS GREAT.
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Old 03-18-2003, 12:18 AM   #6
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The only reason I'd want to see this is because I'm so tired of seeing Cincinatti ALWAYS having the #1 pick...
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Old 03-18-2003, 03:16 AM   #7
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If they don't do a lottery, the least they can do is have a coin flip between the team with the worst record in the AFC and the team with the worst record in the NFC, just like the NBA did from the late '60s until when their lottery began (if two teams tie for the worst record in a conference, the same tie-breakers they use to break a tie for a wild card can be used).

No way should a team automatically be assured the top draft pick for having the worst overall record; it's an open invitation to tank games.
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Old 03-18-2003, 01:35 PM   #8
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Is tanking a real problem in the NFL? The competition for the first pick is not often as strong as you indicated it was in 2001. Down the stretch, did you think that Cincy, Houston, Chicago and Detroit were really vying hard for that #1 pick?

Look at it now: Cincy has it, but doesn't want it. Detroit's happy with #2, because it means that their deal with Rogers won't cost an extra $5mil in signing bonus. Chicago won't move up because #1 and #2 look like foregone conclusions, and also aren't looking to blow up their payroll...
Arizona has the fiscal wherewithal without the winning desire to use the first pick.

I think you've invented a problem that doesn't really need to be solved.

The thing in the NBA that doesn't make any sense to me is that Cleveland is busting its ass tanking the season in hopes of getting that first pick, but there's no guarantee they'll get it. That seems ludicrous to me. It honestly makes no sense to me. Why would I tank that badly if there was very much a possibility I wasn't getting any better than the #10 pick. That just freaks me out. The NBA is annually stuck with tankers, the lottery hasn't solved that there.
Not likely to solve any tanking issues in the NFL, either.
(Though you're really going to have to go to great lengths to prove to me that tanking is a problem in the NFL.)

78--a psychotic hatred of the suits I understand; how a lottery fits into that, I don't. The NFL is very much a 365-day league, now. The fact that we're discussing it in the depths of the offseason, and that we'll likely be discussing it in May, the most boring time of the offseason, is a testament to that fact. Besides, it ain't the suits doing the 24x7 work, it's the aging assistant staring bleary-eyed at Carson Palmer film at 4am wondering why on earth his team wants this guy who's working his tail off and fingers to the bone and eyes to blindness. A lottery has no real effect on Al Davis or Robert Kraft, or the people who work immediately under them.

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Old 03-18-2003, 03:26 PM   #9
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LOL...yeah, it has become a psyhotic hatred Dave...

I see your point too. I just like the idea of fate and stuff like that. You're right too, NFL teams don't tank it like NBA teams do. Although some teams have just said " to hell with it" at times. Saints two years back is a good example( although that was when the were falling fast out of the playoffs). And clearly one player is much more of an impact in basketball then in football, which also bodes well for your view Dave.

I don't know, I just really enjoyed the notion Anthony threw out. May have something to do with the fact that I enjoy dynasty or good-teams-for-awhile leagues then parity ones like the NFL, which lotteries would help, grant it, only to a limited degree, but every once in awhile there could be magic.

Really, is anyone going to brag about the the Ravens, Patritots, or maybe even the Bucs 15 years from now like us older folks talk about the 49ers and Cowboys? Even the one year champions of the 85 Bears or 96 Packers have more of an appeal then the current one year phenoms. I think parity is moving a little more too mediocrity for me. That's why a lottery is good. Maybe it would put some excitement back in the game. Then again, if you enjoying the parity and don't need a boost of energy for the NFL, you are proably against it. Oh well, I like it.
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Old 03-18-2003, 04:09 PM   #10
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You know, there continues to be this belief that the NFL is currently on a plane of mediocrity. This might be something Brad should speak toward, respecting his statistical aptitude, he might be able to actually throw some numbers to support or dispute the idea.

I'm not sure where it comes from, to be quite honest.
If mediocrity does indeed rule the NFL day, then you can and should be quite sure that it has very little to do with most moves toward league parity, and much more to do with the continued expansion of the league. Consider that in today's NFL there are 106 players playing today who would not have played in 1998. That's just 4 and a half years ago!! There are 212 players playing who would not have been playing in the league 12 years ago. And there are 424 players playing in the league who would not have been playing in 1974.

With the Rozelle-led moves toward parity in the league, really starting and ending with the salary cap, these extra 424 players are spread out over the 32 teams, instead of being stuck in the 6 new NFL cities.

Really, the salary cap has worked to expose the front offices as either weakly run or not. We didn't need a salary cap to expose the Bidwells, but the mismanagement of the salary cap caused the end of the Niners run, the end of the Cowboys run, and killed the Ravens would-be-dynasty.

Meanwhile, the Patriots worked the salary cap and free agency well and won the Super Bowl in the administration's second year of power. While they missed the playoffs last season, they missed them by the thinnest of razor edges in the most competitive division in the NFL. They appear to be working the salary cap well again, as well as making what appear to be good free agency moves, and look to be headed for playoff contention for the third straight season.

The Eagles have managed their salary cap in a responsible way, have managed free agency in a meaningful way, and have remained competitive over the last couple of years.

The Steelers have always been staunch watchers of their payroll, and have remained in contention in 9 of Cowher's 11 years.

It's all about the big picture in the NFL. This league, for all the protestations by ESPN and other sports media outlets, is NOT, in fact, a win-now league. It's a be competitive today and hopefully tomorrow league. The Falcons' fans don't need to win the Super Bowl tomorrow, but they should be in the running in the last week of the season.

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Old 03-18-2003, 07:12 PM   #11
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I'm not necessarily opposed to an NFL draft lottery, but the reason I would want it is not because I feel teams are tanking it like they are accused of in the NBA. I think it would spice things up a little and give other subpar teams a chance at the pick.
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Old 03-18-2003, 09:14 PM   #12
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I think 78 brought up the best reasoning against an NFL lottery: one guy doesn't make THAT much difference in the NFL. That #1 pick isn't at all likely to be what pushes the Bengals to the Super Bowl. There are too many other moves, either on the roster or in the coaching staffs, to suggest that that one guy is the end-all-be-all.

Does anyone really believe that Charles Rogers will make the Lions into a winning team next year? No. If they win 8 games, the miracle will be the Mooch, not Rogers.

Does anyone really believe that Houston will win 8 games next year? It's possible, but it won't be because they spent their #3 pick on Andre Johnson, Terrell Suggs, or Terrence Newman. Sure, any of those guys will help, but...

Does anyone think the 2001 Bears 13-3 was anything but a fluke, and that the Bears were so riddled with injuries last year that they could honestly win more than 4 games? What of next year? Regardless of their draft picks, the one-guys in Chicago's fortunes next year are Kordell Stewart, David Terrell, Anthony Thomas and the loss of Roosevelt Colvin. Uh, wait, how many was that?

And Dallas? Regardless of who they pick up in free agency and in the draft, their one-guy is already on the team. The coach. You won't get Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Noll, Hank Stram, Don Shula, or Vince Lombardi in an NFL Draft, so...

As far as different teams getting the #1 pick in the draft:

Over the last 10 drafts, this one not included, there have been eight different teams with the #1 draft pick. Cincy is the only team to legitimately repeat as the #1 draft picker. Cleveland repeated, but the first time was as an expansion team.

When considering the top 5 picks over the last ten completed drafts, a total of 50 possible picks, a total of 24 different teams have had those picks. That's almost the whole league. In fact, of the current 32 teams, only Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, Kansas City, Miami, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota have not had top 5 picks. It's of little surprise, I suppose, that this list comprises the past decade's most successful teams. But, worth noting that 7 of the 24 teams with a top 5 pick have been to the Super Bowl in that same ten year span.

Just in case anyone wondered, Cincy has had the most picks in the Top 5 over the last 10 drafts, with 6. Arizona doesn't surprise by coming in second at 4. Washington had 2 in one draft, with 4 top 5 picks, but appearing there only 3 years. Carolina and Jacksonville have been in the top 5 only twice, which means only once since their initial drafts. Indy, San Diego, and Baltimore have each secured top 5 picks three times.

So, not only is there no real proof that tanking is occurring in a very real way, but the recividism rate isn't what we think it is. Yes, the obvious Cincy and Arizona appearances. But, Detroit, generally considered a "dog" team over the last little while has appeared in the top five only twice over the last decade.

If 6 top five picks hasn't fixed the Cincy problem, I think it's safe to say that the draft position isn't the question. And no lottery will fix what's been wrong in Cincy, nor will it fix what's wrong in 'Zona.

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Old 03-19-2003, 01:34 PM   #13
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I don't think any teams tanked games to get the #1 pick in the draft, and if this so called conspiracy was true then why did the Bengals beat the play-off contending Saints in week 16 last year?

The NBA Lottery is junk. I mean lets look at just this past year's NBA lottery....Yao Ming was selected by a team whose record was not even in the worst top 5 in the league in the Houston Rockets. The Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Warriors were in much more dyer need of a Center and difference maker than was the Houston Rockets. The Lottery method is not fair, and never will be.

Lottery based drafts, if anyting, cause even a bigger gap in dominant to terrible teams from where I see it. How can we punish the worst teams by giving them 2nd fiddle of picks from the field? Is this proposal supposed to give incentive to the worst teams....maybe it would...but I seriously doubt it.

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Old 03-19-2003, 01:51 PM   #14
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Thats why I tend to like lottery based drafts Joey. I like the " bigger gap in dominant to terrible teams" as you put it. Yeah, I'm proably in the minority on that one, but it goes with my liking of dynasties and good-for-awhile-consistant teams. I don't think the draft lottery creates much more of a gap then the current set up. It might create some, but I dont' think all that much.

While I think some tanking does exist in the NFL, Dave is pretty right. It is very minimal, especially compared to the NBA. And we don't even know the reason for tanking sometimes. Some teams are just defeated mentally and emotionally at the end of seasons ( Saints 2 years back). Sometimes guys want to get rid of their coach. There are many reasons why tanking , which is very minimal, may occur in the NFL.

I am for the draft lottery in the NFL purely because it sounds exciting and new. Dave's got it right though. Cincy have drafted so high for so long and they still stink. So what's the difference if we have a draft lottery or the current system anyway if it doesn't matter that much?

Look at the Clippers, they've drafted high for a long time and still struggle.

Drafting is just one piece to the puzzle to get you a ring. My two examples, the Bengals and Clippers, are good examples of teams who have failed miserable eslewhere in the organization, so how much of a difference does drafting high make anyway? It's all debatable.
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Old 03-19-2003, 06:30 PM   #15
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While I appreciate the idea of dynasties, the days of the traditional dynasty are done in the NFL. So long as the TV revenues are shared equally, and so long as one team isn't allowed to spend more than twice the lowest payroll team, and so long as front offices insist on rolling over their coaching staffs every three to six years, the traditional dynasty is toast.

And in a way, it's sad, because players don't stay with teams, and teams push coaches out the door more quickly than deserved, and the speed with which teams are trying to win gives the impression that everyone has a shot at winning the Super Bowl.

This is false. I think we're actually witnessing the dawning of a new era in dynasties. The New NFL Dynasty will actually sit in the front offices, with GMs, Football Operations Presidents, and Player Personnel Presidents being the embodiment of the New NFL Dynasty.

Tom Donahoe has actually already guided a dynasty through a decade of winning. No, Cowher didn't win a Super Bowl, but in Donahoe's career there, the Steelers had two losing seasons, and contended for the playoffs, and in many instances, for the AFC title, every year Donahoe was in control.

Donahoe is in Buffalo now, and there seems little doubt that year two in Buffalo will be an improvement over year one, and year one was a HUGE improvement over year zero.

The Baltimore Ravens, despite a salary hell last offseason, didn't suffer nearly as badly as expected, and rewarded their player personnel guy by making their GM. The Ravens seem like the AFC North's strongest team to me going into next season, QB question marks aside.

The New Orleans Saints have actually had several years of success, despite two incredibly disappointing season ends in a row.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of a dynastic period, in my opinion, though Anthony would disagree.

Now, you can argue that I'm full of bull because only one of these has played in a Super Bowl. But, remember, everyone is still figuring out this salary cap thing. I think that's why Donahoe is destined to succeed, because at no time in Pittsburgh did he operate without an owner-dictated salary cap. Unlike Dallas and San Fran, who spent recklessly to win Super Bowls, and have had to suffer major changes in how they conduct business with the salary cap advent. As folks begin to figure out the salary cap era, as I believe Parcells, Bellichick, and Donahoe have, you'll start to see dynasties again. They might not last whole decades like Dallas and San Fran or Oakland and Pittsburgh, but they will exist. The days of winning back-to-back Super Bowls are merely on hold till smart businessmen (the suits you so dearly hate, 78) with an aptitude for football take the reigns in more and more NFL cities. (Coaching also plays a huge role, but I don't want to get into that here.)

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