During the 2008 season, then-Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb famously didn’t know that an NFL game could end in a tie.
McNabb’s confusion was defensible. When his Eagles tied the Cincinnati Bengals during Week 11 of that season, it was the NFL’s first tie in six years.
Fast forward to Sunday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions produced this season’s first tie game. After the game, Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris echoed McNabb’s bewilderment from 2008, not realizing an NFL game could finish in a draw.
“I didn’t even know you could tie in the NFL,” Harris said after the game. “In my mind, I was sitting on the bench saying, ‘I’ve got another quarter to go.’ But someone came to me and said, ‘That’s it.’ I’ve never had a tie in my life before.”
Harris wasn’t alone in his confusion. The Lions’ Godwin Igwebuike also admitted to not knowing the league’s overtime rules, with Sunday’s tie saving winless Detroit from possible 0-17 infamy.
“It’s nuts,” the second-year running back said. “I’m back there like, ‘Yo, how many overtimes can we do?’ And they’re like ‘three’ … I hear ‘two, one’ and we were like, ‘Yo, whatever’s going on, we’re about to just put our all into it.'”
Lately, ties have been a regular feature in the NFL. This is now the fourth consecutive season that an NFL game ended in a tie and there have been seven ties in the previous six seasons. In 2017, the league shortened overtime in regular-season games from 15 minutes to 10.