5th March 2008
From a franchise index page, you can now get quick links to single-season and career team leaderboards.
Examples (don't forget to utilize the sortable column headers):
5th March 2008
From a franchise index page, you can now get quick links to single-season and career team leaderboards.
Examples (don't forget to utilize the sortable column headers):
4th March 2008
Lots of good stuff to announce today.
1. The touchdown data I told you about a few months ago has been integrated into the players pages (well, a link from the player pages). For instance, if you go to Johnny's Unitas's page you'll see, right above his stat tables, a link called View Details For: 290 Regular Season and 7 Playoff TDs Thrown. Click that and you can see a quick summary of all Johnny U's touchdown throws --- 63 were to Raymond Berry, 43 to Lenny Moore, and so on. Below that is a log of the details of every single one of them. On October 11, 1959, he threw a 68-yarder to Lenny Moore in the first quarter to give the Colts a seven-point lead over the Lions in a game the Colts would go on to win 31-24.
2. In anticipation of next month's big event, we have beefed up the draft section of the site. In addition to yearly drafts, you can also view all draft picks by franchise (here are all the Jaguars draft selections) and by position (all tight ends selected from 1980--2007). Also, interceptions and sacks have been added to the stat tables, so you can use the sortable column headers to bring (roughly) the top defenders to the front of the list.
3. We now have tackles and assists for individual players as far back as Ronnie Lott and Monte Coleman. They also appear on the team pages (scroll down to Defense & Fumbles) and there are now yearly defense registers, where you can use the sortable column headers to discover that the top three tacklers of 1994 were Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, and Sam Mills.
How complete are they and how far back do they go? This gets a little confusing, so bear with me if you're interested in the details. We have tackles for the complete careers of anyone who played in 1994 or later. So from 1994 onward, we are complete. For seasons prior to 1994, we are not complete. But the closer you get to 1994, the closer we are to complete. The 1985 defense register, for instance, shows tackle data for only 54 players (the 54 defensive players who played in 1985 and were active past 1994), so you shouldn't assume that Kyle Clifton was leading tackler of that season even though he appears at the top of the list. Finally, prior to 1994, some teams tracked assists and some didn't. So we have combined the tackles and assists into the tackles column and blanked out the assist column for years prior to 1994.
20th February 2008
It's going to take some time to properly integrate all this into the site, but I couldn't wait any longer to unleash it on the masses:
11,945 pro football boxscores. That's every game played in the NFL, AFL, or AAFC from 1940 through 2007.
As should be clear from the URL and the lack of formatting, these are not yet in their permanent homes, so be prepared to move your bookmark if you set one. There are a few gaps: we don't have team stats for postseason games, and even in regular season games there are a few holes in the team stat tables, especially in the earlier years. And for 1995 forward, I will soon be adding full individual stats. Still, if you're like me you can have a lot of fun at the above link as is.
EDIT TO ADD: Following the lead of MattyP in the first comment, everyone should find the first NFL game they attended and post a link to it. Here's mine: Sept 20, 1992, Texas Stadium: Cowboys 31, Cardinals 20. I did not remember that Michael Irvin had three TD catches. What I do remember is that we were seated directly behind Missouri Tiger basketball legend and at-the-time Dallas Maverick Doug Smith.
5th February 2008
The upgrades are subtle but they make a world of difference. The main thing is that the yearly draft pages now contain the pick number, and the names, positions, and colleges of all the drafted players who didn't appear in the NFL. Last year when I reviewed the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia, which is the source of most of our new data, I wrote this:
Finally, there is draft information, organized by year and then by team. It’s a bit hard to reconstruct the exact draft order with this format, but it would be hard to reconstruct the teams’ drafts if it were organized the other way.
The sortability of the tables at the newly-redesigned p-f-r allows us to get the best of both worlds. The yearly draft pages by default display the draftees in the order they were drafted, but if you want to see all the Eagles' draft choices, or all the defensive ends, or all the Nittany Lions, you can do so with the click of a button (and maybe a little scrolling).
We also now have a list of all draftees from each college, including the pick numbers and the guys who never played in the NFL.
Click on the draft tab up in the header to get started. (Note that the 2007 draft isn't in there yet. It will be soon.)
Before long --- let's say maybe within a month or six weeks --- I hope to have a querying tool that will let you sift through all this draft data and answer questions like "between 1990 and 2000, what percentage of running backs drafted in the 4th round or later made the pro bowl at least once in their career," or "list all Big Ten defensive ends who were drafted in the first round but never recorded an NFL sack."
25th January 2008
Here is some weekend fun with the Touchdown Project that I told you about earlier in the week.
I'll start with a few trivia questions (NOTE: all questions cover the time period 1970--2007):
23rd January 2008
The approximate value experiment (read about it here and here) is on hold for now because I'm busy with, well, lots of things. One of them will eventually be of interest to readers of this blog and users of this site.
Since the sports-reference merger, one grand idea of Sean Forman's has been to try to catalog every scoring play in NFL history and create from them a database that users (i.e. you) can search through. So I've been doing a little bit of work on that from time to time.
There's still much to be done, but I'm now to the point where I can spout some interesting facts. For example, 49% of Richard Todd's TD passes either tied the game, broke a tie, or gave his team the lead, while only 32% of Ken Anderson's did the same. Let's call such a touchdown a "crucial TD." Anderson and Todd might have played on very different kinds of teams, so it's unclear what that means, but check this out:
crucial TDs total TDs pct =================================================== Mark Duper 36 59 61% Mark Clayton 34 85 40%
This data will also allow me to run studies like: when a team overcomes a 14-or-more-point lead to tie the game, do they go on to win it more than 50% of the time? And, just in time, it will allow me to re-run this post with proper data.
18th December 2007
Tell your neighbors! Tell your friends! Just in time for the Playoffs we've rolled out the new site.
We hope you enjoy the new look. We're a running around squashing bugs, so don't be shy letting us know if something doesn't look right, or if you just want to say, "Huzzah!" (or "Boo!").
Read the rest of this entry »
14th December 2007
This is not quite a lock, but that's what we're shooting for. If you go to the makeshift front page of the new p-f-r and start clicking around, you'll find very, very few dead links. While we still have lots of things on the to-do list, it should be complete enough that we will be ready to make the switchover early next week.
A few things of interest that have been added since the last time I did a post like this:
10th December 2007
I think this page, and the places you can get to from it, are pretty cool.
7th December 2007
This site has always had individual (skill position) player game logs going back to 1995. In 2003 (I think), I also started including postseason game logs as well. Those are both integrated into the new site now, as can be seen, for example, here and here. Note that the sortable tables come in handy here. If you want to see how many 2-TD games LaDainian Tomlinson has had, just click on the TD column to sort the list.
In addition, we've got an exciting new feature: a list of all 100-yard rushing or receiving games, and all 300-yard passing games. Here are all 58 of Jim Brown's 100-yard games, for instance.
29th November 2007
Nothing bores me more than when some company merges with or acquires some other company and they create an entire ad campaign around it even though it has zero effect on the life of me, the consumer. AT&T now owns Bellsouth? MegaBank #1 just bought out MegaBank #2? Gripping. Does my phone still work? Can I still use my ATM card at the same places? If so, that's all I need to know. You may view the p-f-r changes similarly. From my perspective, the changes are fairly major. From yours, they shouldn't mean much, and they should all be for the better. Scroll down to "The Future" for a synopsis.
On the other hand, I certainly hope that this site has a bit more sense of community than AT&T does. So it's possible that some of you may be interested in what's going on behind the scenes. And as long as I'm documenting that, this seems like a good time to document the site's history as well. Whether or not anyone reads it, I think that five years from now I'll be glad I wrote it.
I'll start at the beginning.
The very beginning.
In August 1982, my parents gave the 1982 Bill James Baseball Abstract for my 11th birthday. I feel I'm being horribly uncreative when I tell you that this site wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Bill James, but I don't see any way around it. He was a huge influence on the way I think about all things, not just baseball. My parents were not sports fans, but they were tolerant of the obsession with sports that was for some reason in me since the day I was born. Meanwhile, my dad was a computer jock before being a computer jock was cool, and he passed that along to my brothers and I at a young age. I went to Computer Camp (yeah, that's right, Computer Camp) in sixth grade. A few years later, I found a book called Basic Betting (I'm not sure, but I think this must be it) which contained computer programs designed to predict basketball, baseball, and football games. My dad and I patiently typed in the programs on our 48K Apple II+, and we entered lots of data. We both enjoyed it, but for different reasons.
I knew I loved sports. I didn't realize at the time that I also loved data, but I clearly did. [This is totally irrelevant to the story, but just so you can adjust your mental image if necessary, I feel compelled to mention that all of this computer and data stuff was strictly an after-dark and rainy-day activity. I assure you that every minute of my childhood that could have been spent playing sports was indeed spent that way.]
In 1988, Bill James wrote his final Baseball Abstract. I'm not sure on the specifics of this, but my understanding is that he gave the rights to the Abstract name to a group of people. That group had some creative differences and split into (at least) two groups. One of those groups, led by a man named Don Malcolm, continued to publish a baseball annual in the spirit of the Abstract. For whatever reason, I quit reading it after 1989.
Sometime in 1996, I stumbled back upon a copy of the same annual, which was then called The Big Bad Baseball Annual. I wrote some stuff, submitted it to Malcolm, and got a gig writing for the BBBA. Another of BBBA's writers at the time was a guy named Sean Forman. Sean and I had a lot in common: in addition to the interests in sports and data, both of us were working on PhDs in math at the time. Over the next few years, Sean and I met whenever we could, usually at math conferences. He'd tell me about some big ideas he was having. I'd tell him not to quit his day job.
Seven years later, Sean quit his day job.
In case you don't know, Sean is the creator of the most complete, best organized, and most creative sports data website in this or any other universe: baseball-reference.com. According to this article, baseball-ref launched on February 1st, 2000. I actually saw it about a month before that, at a math conference in early January of 2000. I was underwhelmed. In true computers-in-every-doorknob fashion, I asked Sean something like , "why would anyone who owns a copy of Total Baseball need this? And why anyone who doesn't own one care?" As is typical of his style, his answer was something like, "I don't know, I think it might catch on."
It did catch on.
Meanwhile, fantasy football was catching on across the nation. I started playing it in 1994 and have been obsessed ever since. In the late 90s, I got frustrated that there wasn't nearly as much readily-available data or as much statistical analysis of football as there was of baseball. Purely because I wanted to dominate my own leagues, I started collecting and analyzing old NFL data wherever I could find it. And because I like to write, I started using this data to write fantasy football articles. The first one I wrote was this one, which I sent to the man whom I perceived to be the internet's top fantasy football guru: Joe Bryant.
Sean Forman knew I had been collecting data, so he started harassing me to webify it and create football-reference.com. I figured he'd stop harassing me at some point, but he never did. He even created and sent me, unsolicited, this boss logo, which would still be atop the site today were it not for an unfortunate incident that I suppose I'll have to mention at some point in this story:
Eventually, it became clear to even me that the baseball-reference concept was catching on. So I decided to take Sean's advice and create football-reference.com. I think it launched in December of 2000. At the time, I wrote the following words, which are no less true now, and which still appear on this site's about page.
Isn't this just a cheap knock-off of baseball-reference.com?
I'm proud to say that it is. For those of you not in the know, baseball-reference.com delivers a truly staggering amount of baseball information in a very clean and efficient way. The key is the way that it links. George Brett's page is linked to the team page for the 1980 Royals (as well as every other team he played on), which links to the 1980 standings and league stats and also to a list of gold-glove winners in 1980 and to the Royals' franchise history, and so on. This allows you to easily go wherever your mind takes you. I've attempted to copy this format as much as possible. Every bit of text that can be a link is a link, so you can jump around easily.
But this isn't as good as baseball-reference.com, is it?
No, it's not. There are two reasons for this.
1. Baseball-reference.com's creator Sean Forman is a much much more talented web designer and programmer than I am.
2. The database that powers baseball-reference was already there and freely available at baseball1.com. For football statistics there is no such database. So what Sean did was to organize existing data while I'm trying to pull the data together and then organize it.
As a meaningless aside, it's interesting that I used George Brett as an example. This is what George Brett himself now says about baseball-reference.com:
"I was going to go to the gym. Now I can't stop looking at this site. It's amazing!"
Earlier, I told you that my parents were not sports fans but were tolerant --- even supportive --- of my sports mania. The same has always been true of my wife. As near as I can tell, she thought the whole thing was cute in a being-an-over-the-top-dork-is-part-of-his-charm sort of way. But websites cost money to run, and we did not at the time have money to throw away in the name of a bunch of like-minded weirdos being appreciative of the work I had done. I needed a benefactor.
So I emailed Joe Bryant, who had just launched his own fantasy football information site, then called cheatsheets.net, now co-owned with David Dodds and called footballguys.com. I had written several articles for cheatsheets.net at that point, so I asked him if he'd pony up my hosting fees, which were probably a couple hundred dollars a year at the time, in exchange for a link on every page of the site. He agreed. Those links are still there, not because p-f-r still needs subsidization, but because of my continued affiliation with footballguys.com and my continued belief that it is the best source of fantasy football information anywhere.
Except for a few odds and ends, that's the history. That's how p-f-r came to be, and why it has always been unofficially affiliated --- very proudly so --- with both baseball-reference.com and footballguys.com. The odds and ends are:
In 2003, a choice bit of dopery by me resulted in the loss of the domain name football-reference.com. That's when the site became pro-football-reference.com.
In March of 2006, I started this blog. Much in the same way Forman kept badgering me to create the site itself, my good buddy J.C. Bradbury (of sabernomics and Baseball Economist fame) continually pestered me to start a blog. Just as I now appreciate Forman's persistence, I appreciate J.C.'s. Blogging is writing, and writing is Good For You in ways that, somewhat ironically, aren't easy to articulate. Possibly more importantly, the blog has kept Chase off the street.
Before I get to the future, I should also mention that at some point (I think 2004), Justin Kubatko created basketball-reference.com, which has turned into an absolutely terrific site in the same spirit as baseball- and pro-football-reference. I've never met Justin, but we've corresponded often and I have a tremendous amount of respect for his work. In addition to his own site, he has had a lot of influence, direct and indirect, on baseball-ref and p-f-r during the last few years.
It's worth noting, for the sake of trivia, that Sean, Justin, and I all have graduate degrees in mathematics. More specifically, mine is in math, Sean's is in applied math, and Justin's is in statistics. The fact that the sports-reference sites are run by a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician has been a source of far more glee to me than it should be. I have suggested that we should be called The Three Musketeers, and if you got that reference, you are as big a nerd as I am. But don't worry. As far as I know, no one ever has ever gotten the reference. (If you're curious, scroll about a third of the way down on this page.)
The future of pro-football-reference.com
The web has changed a lot since December 2000, but pro-football-reference.com really hasn't. The fact that its general philosophy and its look have remained essentially the same is part of its charm to many, including me. But the business model --- one guy with a demanding real-life job and a family, working on it whenever he can carve out some spare time --- isn't tenable. Since my family and my job aren't going to be changing (nor do I want them to), something else must.
I used to joke that the great thing about p-f-r was that I could drop dead and users of the site wouldn't even notice. I used to tell myself that I didn't care if someone came along and created a much better historical football stat site. After all, my initial goal was to get the data out there; if someone else did it, the goal still would have been accomplished. But I have to admit now that I don't want that. I want p-f-r to be the place where everyone goes for football data new and old. I want it to be the first result in all search engines whether you type in Barry Sanders or Bobby Riley. And I wasn't making progress toward those goals. And, more importantly, I didn't have the resources --- time being the most crucial resource --- necessary to make progress toward those goals at any point in the foreseeable future.
So, when Sean approached Justin and I about merging baseball-reference, pro-football-reference, and basketball-reference into a single entity, it was an easy decision for me. So pro-football-reference is no longer owned by me. Rather than being its own thing, it's now a branch of sports-reference. Rather than being one man's hobby, which it always has been, it's now a part of an honest-to-goodness business. But here's the important part: it's not part of SuperGlobalHyperMegaNet Corp. It's part of a business that is owned, managed, and run by a very small number of people who love sports data just as much as you do. And that's who the "we" is: besides me, it's Sean Forman and Justin Kubatko, both of whom work full time for sports-reference. Although I did a lot of the preliminary prep work to get the data organized, it's Sean and Justin who have actually been creating the new p-f-r pages you've been enjoying.
So what does all this mean for you? It means that p-f-r can start leveraging the economies of scale and scope that come from being part of a bigger entity. I hope that you can already see some big benefits coming from this merger. And I hope you'll believe that there are many more to come.
From my standpoint, the best part is that p-f-r can still, for the most part, be "my site." I'll still blog right here. I'll still answer emails from people whose uncles lied to them about having been NFL players. And if I am moved to add a bit of data, or to create a new set of pages, I'll still be able to do that, just as I always have. But if I don't have time to get it done, I'll have someone who can help me do it.
In other words, the site will be just like it always has been, but better. And that's because its ownership will be just like it always has been, but better.
20th November 2007
1. There is now a makeshift front page where you can keep track of the progress.
2. The non-NFL leagues (i.e. the APFA, AAFC, and AFL) have been added. Here is the 1947 AAFC, for instance.
3. From each league page, you can click on "Week-by-Week Games" at the top to get a week-by-week log of the season. Here is the 1998 NFL.
4. Near the top of each league page is a drop-down box that allows you to select a stat category and get a list of all the players' numbers in that category in that year. This, along with the sortable columns, allows you to easily discover facts like: Willie Belton was 21st in the league in kick return yards in 1972.
We're actually not too far from the grand opening of New P-F-R. Exciting stuff.
Feedback still welcome. Post it in the comments.
20th November 2007
Right now, it's just NFL. No AFL or AAFC yet. But they'll be here soon. The Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams need to be added, as do postseason results and a few other odds and ends, but this will give you a pretty good feel for how they'll look.
This is where the sortability of the tables really comes in handy.
15th November 2007
There is still some work to be done here, and not all of the links work, but it should be enough to give you an idea of what the team pages are going to look like:
Please report bugs and/or give general suggestions in the comments to this post.
12th November 2007
As I mentioned last week, p-f-r is about to undergo a radical change for the better. Prototypes of new pages are going to start coming quickly, so I'm going to be posting here, probably several times a week, to point you to the rough drafts of the new pages and point out new features. The main goal is to get your feedback. If you see something amiss, we obviously need to know about that so we can get it cleaned up. If you have an idea for a feature to add, there is no better time than now to throw it out there. Even if I don't respond to every suggestion, rest assured that we are reading and considering them all. (At some point in the near future, I'll even explain this mysterious "we" that I keep using).
For today, here is the master list of coaches, with links to a page for each coach in NFL history.
Note that the master table is sortable. Click on a header and watch the table sort itself according to that column. Also note that you can click on CSV at the bottom of the page to convert the table to raw comma-delimited text for easy importing into whatever you want to easily import it into. These two table features, by the way, are now in place at the player pages as well.
9th November 2007
I've made vague allusions to this before, but the time has finally come to tell all (or at least tell most).
P-f-r has recently acquired a lot of new data. In particular, we will soon have a page for every player and coach in NFL/AFL/AAFC/APFA history, including old-timers who barely played at all, including defensive players and offensive linemen, and even punters. Those pages will also include some additional stats that we don't currently have, like games started, specific position played (e.g. RDT as opposed to just DL), times sacked, fumbles, fumble recoveries, interceptions, sacks, defensive TDs, kick and punt return data, and more. Also, all stats will be complete for all players, so some of the annoying gaps at p-f-r will be filled. Kordell Stewart's receiving stats, Walter Payton's passing stats, Tom Tupa's punting numbers, Williams Perry's rushing, all a player's stats will appear on his page.
We'll also have some additional biographical information, such as height, weight, birthdate, birthplace, full name, draft round, draft year, and all colleges attended for all players. We'll have all-pro designations in addition to the pro bowl information we already have. We'll have Hall of Fame information.
We'll have much more detailed team stats, including team game logs. Here, for example, is a summary of the 1972 Dolphins' 12th win:
Miami Dolphins 37, New England Patriots 21, at New England mia nwe First downs 29 14 Rushes 51 15 Rush yards 304 110 Passes 21 29 Completed 11 15 Pass yards 201 155 Had intercepted 2 2 Sacked 1 4 Yards lost 4 48 Tot net yards 501 217 Fumbles - lost 1- 1 0- 0 Pen - yards 11-115 6- 63
And it will all be hyper-connected in the natural way that has been the hallmark of the sports-reference sites since the beginning.
It's finally time to pull back the curtain on a very preliminary set of player pages. I'm doing this because I'm excited about the future of the site, and I can't hold it in any longer, and also to get feedback from you. So here you are:
UPDATE: here is a link to a temporary front page where you can track all the progress of the new site.
In order to contrast the difference between the current and future player pages, check out Deion Sanders (new old), Mike Singletary (new old), Brian Mitchell (new old), Jackie Slater (new old), Ray Guy (new (there is no old)).
The team pages and everything else at the site will be revamped to a similar degree in the coming weeks. For now, let me know what you think of the player pages and leaderboards. A few things to keep in mind:
30th October 2007
PFR is working with Samsung by looking at the defining moment in each week's games. This week, I chose the final touchdown in the Jacksonville-Tampa Bay game. We'd appreciate it if you could either vote for my submission or submit your own.
1st June 2007
File this under: one more thing I could (and should) have done a long time ago.
P-f-r now has five years worth of tackles, assists, sacks, and so forth for individual defenders. So you can check out, e.g., Shawne Merriman's numbers on his page and on the appropriate Chargers' team pages (2005 and 2006). For Pro Bowl players whose careers started before 2002, like Jason Taylor, you'll see full stats from 2002--2006 and just team affiliations before that. For less productive players whose careers started before 2002, you just get the 2002--2006 stats and a note indicating that those are not the career totals.
16th April 2007
1. The draft is now 12 days away. Don't forget about the first annual p-f-r draft prediction contest.
2. A p-f-r user named Steve pointed out an error at the site, which I corrected this weekend. In particular, the offensive team passing yard totals didn't match the defensive team passing totals for 2004, 2005, and 2006. I was showing net passing yards on the defensive side, and gross passing yards on the offensive side. Both sides now show gross yards. That is, sack yardage is not included. [As an aside, why in the world do I not include sack yardage, anyway? It's a long story that's not worth the time to tell because I'm about 99% sure that I will be including sack yardage on the team pages in the very near future.]
3. After reading last week's post about tooltips, my friend Justin from basketball-reference.com pointed out that the same effect can be achieved by simply using the HTML 'title' attribute of the 'a' tag. Go to a team page and mouse over the opponents in the game-by-game results to see the effect.
It occurs to me that this has several advantages.
9th April 2007
Just this weekend I decided to join the second half of the first decade of the millennium by learning how to put little tooltips on my web pages.
I have never been a fan of menus that expand into enormous submenus when you mouse over them. It seems like I'm always trying to click or read something under the real estate the enormous submenu will claim when I inadvertently drag my mouse across the menu item and the text or link I'm interested in gets clobbered.
On the other hand, I have seen sites make good use of small popup text bubbles that give you a quick bit of information when you mouse over some text, and then disappear when you drag the mouse away.
So I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, and that's why I'm starting small. When you go to a p-f-r team page, like this one, and look at the team's results, mousing over the opponent will show you that opponent's record. Likewise, when you are at a player page and you mouse over the three-letter team abbreviation in his yearly stat line, it will show that team's record.
It seems to work in Firefox and IE, but apparently not so well in Safari. I suspect that's a minor setback that I can get it worked out. Obviously if I can't make it work in all browsers, then it won't become a part of the site.
Aside from that, what do you think? If you're for it, then how far should it go? What if instead of just the record, it was the record, the coach, the leading passer, rusher, and receiver, and the teams ranks in various categories? What if one could mouse over the "G" column and have the entire game log pop up, instead of having to click over to a completely separate page for the game logs? How much is too much?