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As we conclude the NFL regular season, the biggest story has not been about any particular win but about Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles appearing to intentionally lose their final game to get a better draft pick. Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show this morning, longtime Philadelphia-based ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio called upon NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate the team:
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 4, 2021
Paolantionio said that if he was Roger Goodell, he’d put on his “Kennesaw Mountain Landis pants” and do a “forensic investigation” about what happened with the Eagles. Dan Patrick asked him if he was being serious — Landis was the MLB commissioner who exposed the Black Sox scandal when the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series.
Here’s what I wrote earlier today after Pederson laughably said he was trying to win the game:
Everybody with a brain knows that the Eagles were tanking. They would’ve drafted ninth overall if they had won and now they are picking sixth because they lost. Many Eagles fans are actually happy with the move. Giants fans who are irate about it should, of all people, understand: they were mad at their own team for winning in Week 16 last year against Washington and swinging the pick for Chase Young, who went on to terrorize the division this season.
Pederson ultimately did what the NFL incentive structure yields as the most rational decision. If the league doesn’t want more mockeries made of its competitive balance going forward, it is going to need to devise a system that doesn’t reward teams for bad behavior. Whether that is a draft lottery that provides equal weight to all teams that miss the playoffs, or whether it’s something else, Pederson cynically exposed a big flaw in the system.