This story appears in the November 14, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
IT'S THAT TIME OF THE SEASON when certain teams are already looking ahead to next year. Or, as the current saying goes, they're starting to "suck for Luck."
I promise you that there isn't a single player who's tanking -- the 1,700 guys in our league have too much pride to lie down -- but when general managers and scouts start talking about next year's draft in Week 7, that's a pretty good indicator that winning games this season is not the primary concern in the front office.
Look at Denver. The Broncos just traded their best offensive player, Brandon Lloyd, to the Rams. They benched Kyle Orton, an experienced and relatively successful veteran quarterback, in favor of Tim Tebow, a quasi-talented kid who can't hit the side of a barn. And you can't ignore the fact that the guy pulling the strings is John Elway. He knows that by drafting Andrew Luck, he'd basically be getting himself: a stud QB from Stanford who's destined for greatness. I don't believe in coincidences, especially not ones that are that big. It all screams that 2011 is a wash and that the Broncos are not all that interested in winning right now.