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Food For Thought: Would You Be In Favor Of An NFL Draft Lottery?

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Pro Football Talk had an interesting bit on their site the other day, and it got me to wondering how and if this would actually work.

With Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been called by many the best quarterback prospect at the college level since John Elway, presumably being the top prize in this year's NFL Draft, it makes someone wonder whether some teams have officially or unofficially launched "Suck for Luck" campaigns in order to pursue this year's top overall draft choice.

(I mean, really. . .why else would Tarvaris Jackson still be a starting quarterback in the National Football League?)

The tanking of games was exactly the reason that the NBA implemented their draft lottery prior to the start of the 1985 season. When the lottery started, all of the non-playoff teams were placed into a "hopper" and were drawn out at random to determine the draft order. The league apparently decided that this was a really bad idea, and a couple of years later modified the lottery to its current format.

The current format, for the uninitiated, is that 14 ping-pong balls. . .conveniently numbered 1 through 14. . .go into one of those big things like you see on the televised lottery draws. Each team is then given a list of four-number combinations. The team with the worst record in the league gets the highest number of these combinations, while the last team out of the playoffs has the fewest.

The machines are started, and four ping-pong balls are taken out. Whichever team has that combination of numbers is then awarded the first overall pick in the draft. For example, if the balls that came out of the hopper were 9-4-7-13, whichever team had that combination on their list would get the top pick. The process is then repeated for the second pick in the draft, and again for the third. The remaining teams in the league are slotted by record. Therefore, it is impossible for the worst team in the league to draft lower than fourth, because they can only be leapfrogged by three other teams at the most.

Now, things are slightly different in the NBA as compared to the NFL. For starters, in the NBA, over half of the league qualifies for the post season (16 playoff spots, 30 NBA teams). In the NFL, only 38% of the league qualifies for the post-season (12 playoff spots, 32 NFL teams). With more non-playoff teams in the NFL, the potential for chaos at the top of the draft order would be elevated. Some people would see this as a good thing, while others likely would not.

The other thing about the lottery, at least as far as the way the NBA does it, is that some folks out there believe that the league has already exercised the right to kind of, sort of, "massage" the lottery process to come out the way they want it to.

Or, in more direct terms, to straight-up rig the entire process.

This has gone on from the very first installment of the lottery, when the popular theory was that NBA Commissioner David Stern had one particular envelope frozen. . .as in literally placed in a freezer. . .so that he wouldn't pick it until last, giving that team the top overall selection in the draft. The team logo in that envelope was that of the New York Knicks, which allowed that year's consensus top overall draft choice. . .a gentleman that you may have heard of by the name of Patrick Ewing. . .to wind up in the league's biggest media market.

The accusations of lottery rigging have come up on other occasions as well, such as when LeBron James wound up going to his "hometown" Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic winning the lottery two years in a row, and so forth. Now that the league does the ping-pong ball process behind closed doors, the speculation of rigging has gotten worse.

Now, I'm not sure how this would work for the NFL. . .would it stop the potential tanking of games? Does anyone think that NFL teams are tanking this season for a shot at Andrew Luck?

Weigh in on all of that right here. Enjoy!