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3 Stories: NFL Mediocrity, 76ers' Process, Sled Dog Doping10:59
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The Kansas City Chiefs were the last undefeated team standing in the NFL before their loss to the Oakland Raiders Thursday night. Mike Pesca argues that parity in the NFL presents a problem. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Chiefs were the last undefeated team standing in the NFL before their loss to the Oakland Raiders Thursday night. Mike Pesca argues that parity in the NFL presents a problem. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
This article is more than 2 years old.

After an overall uneventful start to the 2017-18 NFL season, some are saying that pro football just isn't exciting anymore.

Mike Pesca, host of the daily Slate podcast The Gist, and Michael Lee of Yahoo! Sports joined Bill Littlefield for this week's 3 Stories You Should Know.

1. Making The NFL More Exciting

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Amid widespread NFL parity — and perhaps even mediocrity — Mike Pesca is having a difficult time finding an exciting team, or even an exciting player, to watch.

It just seemed that there was very few games where I was saying to myself, "Gotta watch this one." I mean, I will watch most football games, but there weren't, "Oh, let's watch this game." So it really does turn out that there is just built into this system — and mostly because of the salary cap — that you can't have great teams. And it's very hard to have sustained greatness. And when we've seen sustained greatness, it's because of one player — a Rodgers or a Brady — who are so good, but also probably making less money than they could. ...

The way that they've concocted their league guarantees just a dissatisfaction in terms of excellent teams being allowed to be excellent.

2. The Future In Philadelphia

The Philadelphia 76ers haven't been to the playoffs in more than five years. They haven't won the NBA Finals since 1983. But "the process" may finally be paying off. Michael Lee wonders if patient Philadelphia fans will be rewarded after suffering through a few difficult seasons.

For the past three years, the Philadelphia 76ers engaged in a real bidding effort that was all about intentionally losing on the grandest scale possible to stockpile high draft picks with the plan being to secure the best odds at a potentially franchise-altering talent or talents. ... The talent has finally arrived in the form of Joel Embiid and the past two No. 1 picks in Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. The process is processing, and fans in Philadelphia are excited. There's some buzz that they can make the playoffs this year, but that's expecting a lot. The foundation of this team remains young. The wait for the 76ers to become a real contender could be several more years.

Tanking is wildly accepted in baseball, with the strategy yielding the past two champions in the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs. No team has really attempted this path and success in the NBA. But how long is too long to wait for your team to become great?

3. Doping In The Iditarod

For the first time since 1994, when race officials started testing sled dogs for banned substances, several Iditarod sled dogs tested positive for a prohibited drug this year. The dogs were shown to have been given the opioid pain-reliever Tramadol. Bill Littlefield has seen controversies in sports before, but performance-enhancing drug use in dog sledding is too much.

I can take longer baseball games. I can take corruption in college basketball, ongoing controversies about kneeling on the football field, whether it's free speech of misdemeanor treason. But when the dogs are cheating, it's too much. ...

In defense of these four-legged athletes or the humans who drug them — because the last time I looked, the dogs didn't actually have fingers and thumbs and would have trouble getting the pills out of the pill bottles — I got to say that if I had to run through snow and ice night and day for a long time, I'd want all the painkillers that I could find.

More Stories You Should Know

This segment aired on October 20, 2017.

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