“I was in Cleveland in 2017,” McCourty said on his podcast. “There’s no way we were trying to win. It was very obvious. That is to no surprise to anyone. You don’t need me to corroborate the story and say ‘We were tanking, we were trying to lose.’ Duh. I said this when I got to New England, you realize winning in the NFL is not easy, so you don’t want to take it for granted, you celebrate your wins. But the year I spent in Cleveland also taught me, winning ain’t this hard either. You don’t just go 1-31. It’s not that hard to figure out on the other end of it.”
McCourty said that even when team owners aren’t as blatant about it as Haslam and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have been accused of being, the NFL itself incentivizes losing by giving the first overall pick in the NFL draft to the team with the worst record.
“So maybe there needs to be a lottery or something like the NBA does,” McCourty said.
Realistically, as long as the NFL incentivizes losing with the draft order (not to mention other incentives for losing like waiver claim priority and easier schedules), some teams are going to try to lose. The NFL should eliminate those perverse incentives.