Sad news out of Miami last night: former Bears safety Dave Duerson was found dead in his home at the age of 51. Duerson holds a special place in our hearts because he was the inspiration for our AV-based similarity scores, so as a tribute here is a re-run of Doug's introductory post on the system from July 2008:
Awhile back I was talking football with this kid I know. I brought up Dave Duerson as an example of something or other, and the kid had to confess to never having heard of Duerson. I scolded the kid and started muttering to myself. Never heard of Dave Duerson. Sheesh. Ever heard of the 85 Bears???!!! Awful.
A few months later, I had the occasion to do some research on Lemar Parrish. As a completely honest blogger, I have to confess that, before looking him up, I didn't know much more about Parrish than the kid did about Duerson. And Parrish was a better player. According to AV, he is the best eligible post-merger defensive back not currently in the Hall of Fame (at least until Aeneas Williams becomes eligible).
So I did the math, and realized that if you map Duerson's NFL career onto the kid's life, it looks very similar to the mapping of Parrish's career onto mine. Duerson's NFL debut happened a few months before the kid was born. Duerson retired when the kid was ten. Likewise, Parrish debuted the year before I was born, and he retired when I was 11. So the kid's only crime was being a toddler when the NFL --- and indeed the entire sports world --- attained perfection, which of course coincided with my being 12 to 14 years old.
Anyway, what's needed in these situations is the ability to translate a guy to other eras. Off the top of my head, I couldn't describe Duerson very well to the kid: he was a safety who wasn't a hall of famer but was pretty good. That really doesn't say much.
So I decided to whip up a very, very simple similar-player generator.
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