Tanking is not new to sports but seeing it happen in real time can be jarring and sometimes cringeworthy.
That was the reality for many NFL fans watching the Eagles Week 17 game against the Washington Football Team. The game had major playoff implications, ones that would determine the winner of the division and decide the league’s 14th and final playoff team.
Giants fans tuned in hoping for an Eagles win, a win that looked promising until Doug Pederson pulled Jalen Hurts and seemingly called the rest of the game in order to lose it and secure a higher draft pick rather than a W to end the season.
The Giants would miss the playoffs due to the loss, and apparently their fans weren’t the only ones furious.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “many Eagles players and coaches were shocked and outraged” with the move. “Hurts was distraught,” while center Jason Kelce was among two offensive players who approached Pederson to ask why he made the move.
“Two defensive players had to be held back from approaching Pederson,” McLane wrote.
The report also said members of the Eagles coaching staff speculated Pederson likely made the move as a way of tanking to secure the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft with the loss instead of the No. 9 one with a win.
“Some speculated that most wouldn’t have cared had Pederson communicated his plans to the team, or publicly stated his intention to treat the finale like a preseason game and insert Sudfeld at some point,” McLane wrote.
The result was a dreadful performance from Sudfeld in the clutch as Washington clinched the NFC East crown with a win.
Hurts wasn’t much better when it came to throwing the ball at 7-of-20 for 72 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, although he ran for two touchdowns and clearly would have given Philadelphia a better chance to win given what unfolded after Sudfeld entered the game.
The Giants were the biggest losers of all, as they would have won the division if Philadelphia defeated Washington.
Still, the Giants went 6-10 this season. Perhaps they should have won more of their own games if they were going to get that upset with Pederson’s decision to play Sudfeld at the end of what was largely a meaningless game from Philadelphia’s perspective.