I don’t know how you feel about ties in the NFL. I think they’re kind of lame, and also somehow appropriate. If you can’t beat your opponent in 70 minutes of football, you don’t deserve to win. We can’t have ties in the playoffs, so those games have to continue. But if four quarters and an overtime period can’t settle a game, neither team is better. Let them deal with the embarrassment of a tie.
The only thing worse than a tie is how some NFL players still don’t know that they exist. And if you’re that ignorant about your fantasy league’s rules, it will eventually cost you.
When the Steelers and Lions couldn’t decide a winner on Sunday, a tie was a merciful way of letting the fans go home and get on with their lives. But after the game, Najee Harris admitted he didn’t even know the NFL had ties.
Now, you have to wonder how a player in the NFL doesn’t know the rules of the game he’s paid millions to play. Sure, it rarely comes up, but can you imagine a Bill Belichick-coached player being that unprepared? It’s amazing to me that a player doesn’t understand basic rules of the game, whether we like those rules or not.
To be fair, Harris is a rookie. I think he should have known, but he has only a few months’ worth of NFL experience. But what about Donovan McNabb, who admitted in a post-game interview in 2008 that he wasn’t aware the NFL had ties?
Keep in mind that McNabb wasn’t a rookie at the time. He was well into what is arguably a Hall of Fame career. When McNabb made that statement, he had made the Pro Bowl five times, won five division titles, appeared in four conference championship games and a Super Bowl. And he wasn’t aware that a regular-season game ends after the overtime period if there's no winner? Do you think Peyton Manning knew? I bet everyone with the last name “Manning” knows, from Archie to Arch. Donovan McNabb once threw four touchdown passes with a broken ankle. How didn’t he spend a few extra minutes with the rule book?
Maybe you think that’s absurd, or maybe you think it’s no big deal. But I know this for sure: If you know just as little about your league’s rules, it’s going to hurt your team.
I’ve played in leagues where teams cut injured stars who will come back at some point, completely ignoring the IR spots. I once played in a league where you could make waiver moves at any time, even during games (imagine the mad scramble for AJ Dillon), and some teams still made their moves every Tuesday, like clockwork. I’ve also been in drafts where someone would complain that the website was broken because it wasn’t showing them available running backs, only to be told (to their surprise) that each position has a maximum number you’re allowed to roster.
Have you ever been in a draft where some genius yells out “This is a PPR league, right?” If so, you know what I’m talking about.
There is no excuse to not understand how your league works. But if you don’t know by week 10, does it really matter? Absolutely. You need to know exactly how your league handles tie-breakers for playoff spots. Even if you’re pretty sure you know, it’s worth your time to check. Don’t assume head-to-head results play a role in breaking a tie. It might be total points and that’s it. You also need to know how your league handled the extra week in the regular season. Is the playoff schedule different this year? I’m sure you know, but if you’re not 100 percent positive, verify it now.
NFL players play in just one league. You might play in a dozen. It’s conceivable that you’re not familiar with the nuances of every league in which you’re a playoff contender. As we head toward the home stretch of games to see who makes the post-season, I encourage you to get the rules straight for every league, right now. You don’t want to get caught unaware at a critical moment, like a post-game interview focusing on your career of choice, for instance. Good luck this week.
Do you know all the rules in all your leagues? Have you ever been caught not knowing an important rule? Do you care if NFL players don’t know how overtime works? Share your thoughts below.