In an admission that tells us far more about the extent to which NFL players care about the sport they play than we ever wanted to know, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger believes that 50 percent of his colleagues didn’t know that an NFL game could end in a tie.
The issue came to the forefront in the wake of stunning comments from Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, after Philly and Cincinnati finished Sunday’s game in a 13-13 deadlock.
“People are making too big of a deal of this,” Roethlisberger said, according to our pal Tim Benz of WXDX in Pittsburgh.   “They’re being too hard on Donovan.  I’d bet you fifty percent of the league didn’t know that at the time.  You’d be surprised.  People seem to think that the quarterback should know it all, and that everyone should know that stuff.  And it’s not necessarily true.  Because who ever thinks of that situation?  How often does it ever come up?  And the rules change so often that you never know what happens.”
Um.  OK.  So, basically, Ben didn’t know it, either.
And receiver Hines Ward apparently didn’t know about sister-kissing until the Steelers and Falcons played to a tie in 2002.
“I thought we just played until we had a winner,” Ward said.  “It’s kind of weird now that you can tie ball games.” 
Yeah, it’s weird.  Tie games have only been part of the NFL since 1920.


  1. What did all these idiots think the ‘T’ stood for after the Win/Loss column? Do they look at the league standings? There was a tie just six years ago…how is it possible for players to not know this?
    What a bunch of idiots.

  2. If I had any talent, I’d make one of those Budweiser ‘Real men of genius’ song parodies for this situation.

  3. That Donovan didn’t know that there could be a tie is less of a concern for me (because ties are stupid and shouldn’t be a part of professional sports…if you keep score there should NEVER be a tie) than the lack of urgency that seems to be there EVERY game towards the end of the game.

  4. That assumes that theres a correlation between caring and knowing the rules. You should know better than that.

  5. Must be a slow news week, if Florio keeps harping on about this story. Can’t we vote it out of existence or something? It’s SO boring…

  6. What do you expect for a guy not known for his brains, or is that known for his lack of brains?

  7. it’s news because apparently a lot of guys who play the game dont know diddley about it.
    will the real norman einstein please stand up?

  8. I’d like to see a poll of ESPN analysts to see which of them knew about ties. Probably way less than 50%.

  9. “LoneRhino says:
    November 18th, 2008 at 3:32 pm
    Must be a slow news week, if Florio keeps harping on about this story. Can’t we vote it out of existence or something? It’s SO boring…”
    You keep coming for more, so it must not be that bad…

  10. Are you guys serious? How is this not a story??
    I think it’s very telling about atletes today. They know all about getting the most money from their image, and being celebrities, but don’t even know the most basic rules of the sport they are playing!
    It’s amazing how many boneheaded things happen in sports… players can’t even handle simple things like clock management.
    It doesn’t matter that you guys think that there shouldn’t be ties in football, because there is and that is the rules. The fact that players in the key football position don’t know a basic rule like how Overtime works is a stunning and embarassing development in the NFL.

  11. Whether or not someone believes ties are stupid is irrelevant. Ties are part of the game and have been for many, many years. Know the game you’re playing.

  12. Don’t these guys watch games? Don’t they look at standings? Hasn’t this been their life for the past 20 years? And they don’t know something that casual fans know? The last tie was in 2002, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come close since then and McNabb was playing in 2002 – did he not notice (clearly)?
    And it’s ironic that Big Ben is the one leaping to McNabb’s defense — he’s not exactly the sharpest tack in the shed.

  13. The people defending McNabb obviously didn’t know that their could be ties either. It’s a complete joke that a professional athlete, the leader of a multi-million dollar franchise, doesn’t know a rule that obviously to even casual fans.
    “That Donovan didn’t know that there could be a tie is less of a concern for me (because ties are stupid and shouldn’t be a part of professional sports…if you keep score there should NEVER be a tie) than the lack of urgency that seems to be there EVERY game towards the end of the game.”
    — maybe if McNabb knew that was the last period in the game there would have been more urgency…

  14. only pro football has ties ….high school and ncaa have if figured out ….”you play to WIN the game”

  15. Everyone who is saying “It’s no big deal Donovan didn’t know” is missing the point, IMHO. It’ s not a friggin’ trivia question. How can a quarterback be playing an overtime game with the appropriate urgency when the overtime period is about to expire if he doesn’t even KNOW that it will end in a tie? I’d play a little differently with 2 minutes remaining if I thought that I was just going to get ANOTHER period to decide the game. Geeze….

  16. Mike, you’re a real jerk sometimes. The last line, “since 1920″… sarcastic for what. It shouldnt end in a tie, thats ridiculous, and the Donovan statement is getting way too much attention. Who cares? The rumor mill that slow today you gotta resort to beating a dead horse (this issue)?
    You’re always anti-Eagle, or your one-liners are sarcastic pertaining to the Eagles. Wouldnt be surprised if you’re from NY or Dallas.

  17. “I’d play a little differently with 2 minutes remaining if I thought that I was just going to get ANOTHER period to decide the game.”
    Well since OT is sudden death, every possession can potentially last. So the suggestion of a lack of urgency because he wasn’t aware of TIES is completely foolish.

  18. You guys have to remember that these guys don’t follow football as closely as the fans. They are too busy working out, studying playbooks, makin’ it rain, actually worrying about PLAYING while we all spend hours and hours each day visiting football websites and watching NFL Network, ESPN or the games themselves. I really don’t get why this was a big deal.
    The big deal was the three picks and one fumble…

  19. I am beginning to see a pattern. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlesomething, and Steelers receiver Hines Ward. What do they all have in common, the good old state of Pennsylvania. Doesnt get any better than that. I would expect nothing less from the Steelers and Eagles

  20. Damn it Ben!! I’ve been Eagle bashing for days! (from every Steeler fan on this site, myself included)
    Ben musta left that part of his brain on the windshield of the Chrysler.

  21. Like I said in the other story….there is something about the QBs in the Keystone state…..they are not very bright, and I pull for the Steelers. This is embarassing.

  22. First of all, this is a huge story. A 10-year veteran QB, at one time the highest paid player in the NFL, didn’t know for 10 years that a game could end in a tie. So he only knew 66% of how a game could end.
    Second, this is why you don’t want to know how the sausage is made. It was unfathomable to me, even a week ago, that even 1 percent of the NFL could not know about ties. Now we see the ugly truth.
    People are dumb. Overwhelmingly. Most people in most jobs are bad at their job. That is a fact of life. And it sucks.

  23. all these guys are covering for Mcnabb. Hate to say it but what did Rush Limbaugh get in trouble for a few years back? Saying Mcnabb was too stupid to be a great Qb. He’s a good Qb, but now were seeing why he never was/is a great Qb.

  24. RodgerDodger:
    The NCAA only figured it out about 10 years ago. Don’t gloat when you don’t know the subject.

  25. as my Dad told me as a young child watching my beloved Vikings make a stupid play –
    They don’t pick em because their smart.

  26. After the fiasco in Pittsburgh and the TIE in Cincinnati it is obvious that about half of the QBs do not know about tie games and about half the officials do not know a lot of the rules either.
    Which means the fans are watching games played by players and run by officials that do not know the rules. Wow the NFL sure has come a long way.

  27. While it may not be the wisest move, it’s pretty cool of Roethlisberger to step up publicly and admit he too didn’t know the rule, given that he didn’t have to make such an admission. He could have just kept his mouth shut, acted like he knew, and avoided the embarrassment.
    That being said, I’m still amazed that these players didn’t know it was a rule.

  28. Overtime should be eliminated in the regular season.
    Win it in 60 mins.
    A couple of ties among team records cleans up the standing and playoff seeds at year end rather nicely.

  29. I’m sure Florio gets Pittsburgh media, since he lives in Wheeling. This is another case of Florio getting inundated with Pittsburgh information and reporting something stupid that only he cares about.

  30. The only guy who would find this story worth beating to a dead horse is Florio – just look at last week with AP taking his helmet off “in the field of play” and thinking it should have been a penalty. I think we had 5 stories of that in two days – man – find something significant, interesting, and new to talk about! Get a life!

  31. I’m a big fan of your site, and I am surprised that there are NFL players (and officials?) who don’t know overtime & tie rule differences between the regular season and the playoffs. But give it a break, already! It isn’t THAT big of a deal, unless they were taking knees at the end of the 1st OT, believing that a second OT would follow. All those assistant coaches and the cast of thousands have to be on the sidelines during the game for SOMETHING, don’t they?

  32. I knew about the ties, but only because I remember a game that had one. I think it was Lions vs. Giants. Anyhow, how often do ties happen? It’s quite rare. So, big friggin’ deal. I bet the last tie occurred before Big Ben was even playing in the NFL, but probably not McNabb. I think everyone knows the rule now… Lets move on…

  33. Cruiser, heh.
    “- he’s not exactly the sharpest tack in the shed.” It’s ‘tool in the shed, and ‘sharp as a tack’ you jerk. The irony is killing me.

  34. Ties are retarded in all sports. Wins and losses, that’s what it should be about. Including you stupid hockey standings!!

  35. It really doesn’t surprise me that many NFL players wouldn’t know the rule going into a game. What is unacceptable is that a quarterback wouldn’t be made aware of the rules when the game was on the line in that situation!

  36. FlorioHatesMyTeamMoreThanHeHatesYourTeamWaahhh says:
    November 18th, 2008 at 4:00 pm
    “… What do they all have in common, the good old state of Pennsylvania. Doesnt get any better than that…”
    Actually, Pennsylvania is commonwealth, not a state. But that’s beside the point. None of them are actually from PA. No pattern to be seen in this issue.

  37. I acutually don’t care that he didn’t know the game ended in a tie. Players don’t follow games close like fans. They barely watch other games that don’t matter during the season. A lot of players don’t know what the score was between Detroit and Carolina this week. I don’t fault them for not knowing this type of rule. As long as he knows the rules to play the position like not running past the line of scrimmage and all that stuff. Another thing, the coaches are the ones putting in the plays and they are ones to put the sense of urgency in the play calling. So if they didn’t let the players know thhat we need to score now, then it’s their fault. I think there are lots of players who do not know this especially since it happens so seldom and the rules are always changing. The NFL changes the rules to the game EVERY friggin year. Lastly, I don’t equate knowing the rules of the game with caring about the game. I understand everyone’s point about this is a rule that’s been in place forever and fundamental, but at the same time, if you play an overtime game once every couple of years, and don’t watch other games (which most players don’t), then I can understand why a lot of players don’t know.

  38. Why are people equating ignorance with stupidity? For all of those who are calling Ben or McNabb stupid, your rationale is stupid. Now knowing is not the same thing as being stupid. If you want to call them ignorant, then cool, but none of us on here are einsteins either.

  39. yeah right ben the rules change so often? like what, every 90 years now? maybe his mc crash actually knocked some of his brain out. now i know why the league conducts the wonderlic testing.

  40. i’d rather hear rumors about brett favre retiring than keep reading about this story. enough already. who cares.

  41. If I’m the owner, coach, or a teammate of these dopes then it definately matters. I’m putting it all on the line and you can’t be bothered (or are too stupid) to know simple rules that are affecting game strategy and other coaches/player’s decision making? Give me a break.
    On another note as a Steeler fan. I try not to worry that Ben is clearly not the brightest guy around. But this admission is discomforting. What else doesn’t he know? And no, it’s not somehow honorable to have McNabb’s back here. Leave that for the dumbass’ teammates.

  42. I think there should be a lot more criticism of the coaching staff. They should make sure their players know the rules of the game. And it certainly should’ve been explained to the players as the OT period was coming to an end.

  43. I smell fines and suspenions from Goodell for the next dummies who publicly admits that do not know the rules of their profession.

  44. Like I said on the other post, players from both teams in the PIT/ATL game seemed sort of confused after the game. This doesn’t surprise me.
    And again, like I said before, not all of these players religiously follow the game like we do, even before they enter the league. They play it.
    McNabb may have been playing in the NFL at the time of the last tie…but, I’m pretty sure he was probably A) Actually playing in a game at the EXACT same time, or B) Just finished playing a game. Players have too much on their tables to worry about what other teams outside of their divisions are doing. I guarantee 75% of the players in the league right now couldn’t rattle off the records of all 32 teams if asked point blank.
    Troy Polamalu never watched the Super Bowl, let alone an NFL game, before being drafted. Is he a moron too? No, he’s one of the most intelligent players in the league.
    98% of the “football world” was enlightened by the “Tuck Rule”. Are they all morons too? No, no. Not US. THAT was an obscure rule that’s rarely applied in today’s game. Oh wait, that sounds just like the tie rule…
    Double standard, and just another example of the media looking for an excuse to ridicule these guys.

  45. SHUTDOWN – your EYES must have “shut down” reading my post. Please read what I said. It makes COMPLETE sense if you know how to read. I said “How can a quarterback be playing an overtime game with the appropriate urgency when the overtime period is about to expire” That part about “about to expire” is critical to the point my friend. Of COURSE they (at LEAST) know it’s sudden death. Nobody ever questioned that. It was their understanding that the game would not just keep going on. So, if you have the ball in what looks to be like the LAST drive of the period, you’re going to play differently if you think it’s your LAST chance to WIN the game, than if you think, “Oh well, we just won’t make a mistake, and we’ll get another chance in the 6th period..”

  46. Ties in the NFL are about as common as days on the calendar marked as “February 29th”. I know this so I must not be the Sun after all. Oh well…

  47. Way to go Bubby. Thanks for taking a break from Gator wrestling to write that post. I agree 100%.
    I wonder if Mike goes and watches attorneys draw up briefs or goes to traffic court on his spare time…
    Professional atheletes do not watch the sport they play religiously like we do (some do). Bottom line is that the coaches need to know – not the players.
    Does a soldier in battle need to know the ins and outs of foreign policy or do they need to know how to follow orders?
    That being said, it is surprising but who cares.
    I wonder how many fans knew that the ball was allowed to be over the line of scrimmage before you throw the ball as long as your heel is on the line….

  48. It would be interesting to look at some of the more obscure rules that could have game changing implications and see how many palyers know about them.
    That is the story here. Not knowing basic rules.
    To me this is just as stupid as the stories once every couple of years regarding a return man stepping out of bounds before picking up the ball and thus giving his offense a start at the 40 yard line. It is a basic, simple rule that could change a game but for some reason very few players even know it. To me, to properly play a game knowing the rules is extremely important.

  49. Whether or not NFL overtime ending in a tie is stupid or not (it is)is immaterial. He was in the league in 2002 and he should have at least rudimentary knowledge of how a game can end. The fact that all of these players are in Pennsylvania is of no surprise. I hear they stick to their guns and religion over there, and then vote for a guy who insults them.

  50. It amazes me — when I started to like football as a kid I think one of the first questions I had for my dad was “Can a game end in a tie?”

  51. It was reported last night by Mort when he asked a couple GM’s about this, and they said they would be surprised if 75% of the QB’s in the NFL knew the rule

  52. Um… how do you get that “Um. OK. So, basically, Ben didn’t know it, either.” from that quote? Obviously he’s just trying to stick up for his colleague who *does* happen to be rock-stupid. Chokemaster McNabb makes Forrest Gump look like Stephen Hawking.

  53. Jon Snow: Of course ties are infrequent, but games go into overtime on a regular basis and the possibility of a tie is announced by the referee, over the freakin’ PA system, every freakin’ time.

  54. It’s a bit pathetic that professionals paid as handsomely as NFL players wouldn’t know that their sport can–and does–end in ties. However, I do think Roethlisberger has a something of a point in that players should probably know their play books, the verbiage of their systems, more than they know rule orientated stuff, especially if the rule almost never comes up and that’s certain the case for tie games after regulation and one OT.
    Still, it’s pathetic. What’s especially questionable, is that coaches–and other, wiser and more worldly players–don’t remind players of this. Sort of a reminding a fast food employee of why they must wash their hands after using the bathroom.

  55. What this story points out is something we don’t like to acknowledge but we know in hearts is often true. That is that we fans CARE more about the sport than many of the players do. While they collect big paychecks for their (usually brief) careers, this stuff is a lifetime obsession for many of us. That Donovan does not watch NFL games when he can (or didn’t watch them before he became an NFL player) is something we cannot fathom.
    How many times have you seen guys on your team after a loss similing and patting guys from the other team on the back when you are so mad about the loss that you want to put your foot right through the TV screen.
    We fans will be watching games until they put us in a box. Unless Donovan goes into broadcasting, who knows if he’ll watch a game after he retires.

  56. Dosen’t the Ref explain at the beginning of the OT Period that:
    We will play one quarter of regulation time with 2 time outs for
    each team to the Captains when they come out for the coin toss
    to start the OT. YES HE DOES!!! He does not say: we will play
    unlimited quarters!!!
    My problem with McNabb is: Did he think he was going to do
    somthing different if had another quarter. If you couldn’t do
    it in five quarters, WHAT, all of the sudden you can do it NOW!

  57. I’m happy as long as Ben can tell the difference between his receivers and the defense. If the players knew all the coaches knew, there would be no coaches.

  58. What’s ridiculous is that more than 50% of you posters don’t realize this IS a story. It’s so ridiculous I’ll spin a new theory. While the NFL has 1800 players or so, it is still like a small fraternity. I think Big Ben is just protecting his ‘brothers’. It’s like cops and the Blue Wall of Silence or something.
    As for knowing the rules – I’m an idiot, and a girl, and I knew the game could end in a tie. Pay me five mil a year and I’ll coach the whole damn league on the rules.
    We’re square on the tie thing now, right? The second rule is this: If a QB gets his helmet touched, somebody’s gonna open up a wallet. Friggin’ simple, this game is!

  59. Idea for a new NFL rule: When OT ends in tie, team captains and head referee gather in the middle of the field and flip the coin 7 times. Best 4 of 7 gets the win.

  60. gary clark says:
    Hate to say it but what did Rush Limbaugh get in trouble for a few years back? Saying Mcnabb was too stupid to be a great Qb.

    Um, Limbaugh never said anything near close to what you’re suggesting. Instead he stated that the desire in the media circles for black quarterback success stories compelled them to annoint mcnabb as a great qb – regaerdless of his performance on the field.
    Try to stop making things up in your own brain and believing them.

  61. I dont remember a single quote by any of the Steelers player after the 2002 tied game that they were unaware of the rules. In fact, I remember Steelers trying to desperately score on the final drive where Plax caught a pass just inches short of the end zone with time expiring.
    Still McNabb has no excuse. Atlanta met the Eagles in the playoffs that year. What was Mcnabb thinking when they were looking at the opponent? Are you serious that he never even glanced at their record even once leading up to their playoff game and didn’t wonder why they had a tie? How dumb is this guy? OK , maybe 6 years later, I can forgive if he can’t forget details of the game (such as who the opponents were or the score or whatever), but he couldn’t hve forgotten that a tie can happen.

  62. God’s a pretty fair guy. Einstein couldn’t run a 4.4 40 or throw a football 80 yards. Save a few freaks of nature, you either have one or the other. Get over it.
    Funny how it’s mostly dorks (like me) that feed money into this league year in and year out.
    Who’s the joke on?
    Maybe I should take up chess.

  63. Whether or not he or anyone else knows that the game can end in a tie is viurtually irrelevant since he and anyone else knows that the game ends with the first score – which of course means that he was trying to score.

  64. If Florio had even bothered to read Ben’s whole interview (or listen to it like I did on NFL radio), he’d know that Ben said he DID know the rule himself. But Florio would rather insinuate that Ben is as stupid as McNabb. It fits his Steeler hating agenda.

  65. About half of the country doesn’t know who the vice president is either. That does not absolve us of the responsibility to point and laugh at those people.

  66. Well, since Ben DID know the rule…..fine, but that is no excuse for his defending McNabb and others who do not.

  67. Who cares? The fact is that there are so few ties in the NFL that eventually people forget they even exist.
    It’s not worth re-hashing for a week and a half.

  68. It has legitimate legs because it’s depressing/infuriating to the average JoeSixPack that guys making millions of dollars either don’t care or really are that stupid as to not know fairly basic rules of their profession.
    Personally, I would be fired from my engineering job if I didn’t know what to do to close out a project.

  69. I think it is less than 50%, but that most of the players who don’t know that the game can finish in a tie are on the stealers. Must be something in the water. Quit drinking out of the toilet.

  70. What a bunch of MEATHEADS. If I’m not mistaken the ref states at the coin flip to start the overtime “We will play (ONE) 15 min. quarter and the first team to score wins.

  71. “The fact is that there are so few ties in the NFL that eventually people forget they even exist. ”
    Sorry, this is far, far, far from a fact.

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