We’ve only been through an eighth of the 2011 NFL regular season, and the clamoring for Andrew Luck has already begun. Recently, it’s taken social media by storm.
During the waning weeks of the 2010 NFL season, speculation around who would go first in the upcoming draft was squared pointedly at Stanford sophomore QB Andrew Luck. After the Cardinal’s win in the Orange Bowl in January, it seemed all but a foregone conclusion that Luck would declare for the draft, and subsequently head to the Carolina Panthers, who owned the No. 1 pick. In a move that surprised everyone, apparently, except his father, Luck decided to finish his education in Palo Alto.
As the new college football season began, the hype surrounding Luck had not waned. He is still considered the best QB prospect in college football, and will most likely be taken first overall in the 2012 NFL draft. With that in the minds of struggling NFL franchises everywhere, the speculation of which team will get the coveted No. 1 spot is currently in full swing.
So much so, that a certain campaign has unofficially been going around the interwebs – one that is simultaneously a support group for those franchises in a perpetual state of sub-mediocrity, and a forum for those who are pleading their case for their team to tank the rest of the 2011 season for one man:
While its unofficial Twitter page has a paltry 219 followers as of today, it’s been a topic that has permeated the NFL fanbase en masse. The aptly named “Suck For Luck” campaign promotes the idea that a franchise intentionally lose in order to secure the top spot in next year’s draft, and select what many consider a franchise-changer in Andrew Luck. With the advent of social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, the conversation about teams tanking to obtain top prospects has certainly changed. Aside from the aforementioned Twitter page, there are Facebook pages popping up for teams like the Miami Dolphins, the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Indianapolis Colts, and even the San Francisco 49ers, who recently took head coach Jim Harbaugh away from the Stanford Cardinal coaching staff.
While the phenomenon of NFL fans vying for the chance to get Andrew Luck as a franchise quarterback is interesting, it does beg the question: Should you really root for your team to lose?
I posed the question to my brother a number of weeks ago, when the prospects for the 49ers were looking bleak, and the coaching staff had decided to stick with incumbent QB Alex Smith – a move that, at the time, seemed to concede another sub-par season. His answer?
“What, are you serious?”
While his response was longer than that one simple statement, it was clear – if you are truly a fan of your favorite team, it should never be the case that you root for them to lose. Take this unofficial forum poll, asking whether they would want their favorite team to have a terrible season to get a top pick, or go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. The majority was clear and unquestioned: they would take the 8-8 season, hands down.
It makes sense – the chemistry built from an average season could help a sports franchise just as much as any lottery pick. It also gives the franchise something that many seem to overlook: real, tangible hope that the team can improve with the pieces already in place, and bring success.
After all, the ramifications of a losing season could be disastrous for the entire organization. It’s kind of the reason that “tanking a season” is not the wisest of decisions – higher-ups and coaching staffs lose their jobs over bad seasons, especially in the NFL.
While it is early in the season, the trend reminds me of another college football phenom that warranted his own campaign for teams to tank in order to obtain him in the subsequent NFL draft. He was a Heisman winner who was considered the greatest offensive weapon to come out of college in decades. There was even a Week 17 game between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers that was aptly named after him: “The Bush Bowl.”
That’s right – I’m talking about Reggie Bush.
While the Houston Texans ultimately passed on him for the New Orleans Saints to nab, I only need to ask: How did his career turn out?
While I’m not necessarily comparing Bush to Luck, the point remains – is it really worth franchises to set themselves back three, four, even five years in order to nab a “sure thing” that they will be forced to pay tens of millions of dollars – which, ultimately, might not even pan out as a franchise player?
The better question: Do you really think franchises really employ this strategy on purpose? With jobs on the line and livelihoods at stake, does it make any sense for franchise heads to say, “screw it – let’s just tank to get Andrew Luck” – after two weeks?
Personally, I’m starting to think people like this insightful Kansas City Chiefs fan (and Bleacher Report contributor) have it right: if you are a fan of a team, take pride in that team and its prospects – win or lose.
Don’t suck for Luck, kids. It’s just not worth it.