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Archive for July, 2008

AV All-franchise teams: NFC East

Posted by Doug on July 30, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I’ll post them by division.

Previous Divisions:

NFC West
NFC South
AFC North
AFC East
NFC North

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I’m also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

Dallas Cowboys

QB   Roger Staubach       102+
RB   Emmitt Smith         126
RB   Tony Dorsett         103
WR   Michael Irvin        105
WR   Drew Pearson          78
TE   Billy Joe DuPree      58
T    Rayfield Wright       83+
T    Erik Williams         71
G    Larry Allen           85
G    Nate Newton           73
C    Tom Rafferty          65 

DT   Randy White          121
DT   Jethro Pugh           61+
DE   Too Tall Jones        97
DE   Harvey Martin         82
ILB  Bob Breunig           65
ILB  Lee Roy Jordan        61+
OLB  D.D. Lewis            63+
OLB  Dexter Coakley        61
CB   Mel Renfro            67+
CB   Everson Walls         65
SS   Darren Woodson        78
FS   Cliff Harris          84

New York Giants

QB   Phil Simms            90
RB   Tiki Barber           99
RB   Ron A. Johnson        54+
RB   Rodney Hampton        54
WR   Amani Toomer          63
WR   Chris Calloway        37
TE   Bob Tucker            59
T    Brad Benson           53
T    Doug Riesenberg       51
G    Doug Van Horn         50+
G    William Roberts       45
C    Bart Oates            54 

DT   Keith Hamilton        72
DT   John Mendenhall       47
DE   Michael Strahan      121
DE   Leonard Marshall      65
ILB  Harry Carson          93
ILB  Brian Kelley          59
OLB  Lawrence Taylor      139
OLB  Jessie Armstead       68
CB   Mark Haynes           61
CB   Perry Williams        50
SS   Beasley Reece         35
FS   Terry Kinard          45

Philadelphia Eagles

QB   Donovan McNabb        87   [Randall Cunningham = 86]
RB   Wilbert Montgomery    71
RB   Brian Westbrook       58
WR   Harold Carmichael     79
WR   Mike Quick            45
TE   Keith Jackson         37
T    Jerry Sisemore        68
T    Tra Thomas            61
G    Wade Key              38
G    Ron Baker             37
C    Guy Morriss           52 

DT   Charlie Johnson       55
DT   Jerome Brown          48
DE   Reggie White         112
DE   Clyde Simmons         68
ILB  Bill Bergey           69+
ILB  Jeremiah Trotter      62
OLB  Seth Joyner           61
OLB  William Thomas        58
CB   Eric Allen            73
CB   Troy Vincent          71
SS   Randy Logan           68
FS   Brian Dawkins         87

Washington Redskins

QB   Joe Theismann         87
RB   Larry Brown       71+
RB   John Riggins          58
WR   Art Monk              91
WR   Gary Clark            76
TE   Jerry Smith           43+
T    Joe Jacoby            83
T    George Starke         62
G    Russ Grimm            63
G    Mark May              46
C    Len Hauss             58+

DT   Dave Butz             81
DT   Diron Talbert         71+
DE   Charles Mann          80
DE   Ron McDole            63+
DE   Dexter Manley         63
ILB  Neal Olkewicz         58
ILB  Harold McLinton       54+
OLB  Chris Hanburger       91+
OLB  Wilber Marshall       54
CB   Darrell Green        103
CB   Mike Bass             52+
SS   Ken Houston           81+
FS   Mark H. Murphy        40
FS   Brig Owens            40+

13 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

Pro Bowl Punters

Posted by Jason Lisk on July 24, 2008

The special teams guys have gotten just a little bit of love this summer, while we are in the dog days and waiting for pre-season to begin. Chase got it started last month with some discussion of the best return games, and a two-part follow up on Josh Cribbs and his 2007 season. Doug followed that up by introducing some new field goal kicker data, and asked whether Neil Rackers' 2005 was better than Cribbs' 2007 season. So, I figured the punters needed a little print as well.

Below is a list of Pro Bowl Punters for each year since the merger, going in reverse chronological order. I've listed the team with the PFR abbreviations for each franchise, and for those that have relocated at various times, I also list which location the team was playing if applicable (this will come up in the discussion later). For each pro bowl punter, I also list two other relevant pieces of information for the purpose of my discussion. First, I list the team gross punting average (though I figure most, if not all of the punts were made by the individual in question--it was just easier to compile this way), with the league rank in punting average for that season in parentheses. Next, I list the team rank in a stat that Doug developed for use in his approximate value work, and which was first discussed here, called OPPED (Offensive Points Per Estimated Drive). OPPED gives us a decent estimate of the caliber of offense that the particular pro bowl punter was playing with, ranging from Reggie Roby with the 1984 Miami Dolphins who went 14-2 (#1 in OPPED) to Todd Sauerbrun with the 1-15 2001 Carolina Panthers (#31 in OPPED) and all points in between.

Year	Name		Team		Gross Avg.	OPPED RK
=============================================================
2007	Lechler		rai-oak		49.1 (1)	23
2007	Lee		sfo		47.3 (2)	32
2006	Moorman		buf		43.6 (12-t)	25
2006	McBriar		dal		48.2 (1)	3
2005	Moorman		buf		45.7 (1-t)	19
2005	Bidwell		tam		45.6 (3)	20
2004	Lechler		rai-oak		46.7 (1)	16
2004	Berger		nor		43.6 (4)	17
2003	Hentrich	oti-ten		43.9 (3)	6
2003	Sauerbrun	car		42.8 (7)	18
2002	Hanson		jac		44.2 (2)	18
2002	Sauerbrun	car		45.1 (1)	30
2001	Lechler		rai-oak		45.6 (2)	3
2001	Sauerbrun	car		47.0 (1)	31
2000	Bennett		sdg		46.2 (1)	28
2000	Player		crd-ari		44.2 (8)	26
1999	Tupa		nyj		45.0 (4)	13
1999	Berger		min		45.4 (2)	5
1998	Hentrich	oti-ten		47.2 (1)	10
1998	Turk		was		43.5 (13-t)	18
1997	Barker		jac		44.9 (5)	2
1997	Turk		was		44.6 (6)	19
1996	Gardocki	clt-ind		45.7 (2)	14
1996	Turk		was		45.1 (4)	6
1995	Bennett		sdg		44.7 (2)	18
1995	Feagles		crd-ari		43.8 (4-t)	29
1994	Tuten		sea		42.9 (7-t)	23
1994	Roby		was		44.4 (2)	25
1993	Montgomery	oti-hou		45.3 (1)	5
1993	Camarillo	crd-ari		43.7 (7)	9
1992	Stark		clt-ind		44.8 (2)	26
1992	Camarillo	crd-ari		42.8 (10)	22
1991	Gossett		rai-la		44.2 (4)	13
1991	Camarillo	crd-ari		44.7 (3)	27
1990	Stark		clt-ind		42.8 (5-t)	20
1990	Landeta		nyg		44.1 (2)	8
1989	Roby		mia		41.7 (7)	10
1989	Camarillo	crd-ari		43.6 (1)	26
1988	Horan		den		43.8 (1)	13
1988	Arnold		det		42.4 (5)	28
1987	Mojsiejenko	sdg		42.0 (1)	27
1987	Arnold		det		41.8 (2)	21
1986	Stark		clt-ind		44.7 (2)	27
1986	Landeta		nyg		44.8 (1)	6
1985	Stark		clt-ind		44.7 (1)	11
1985	Hatcher		ram-la		42.6 (6)	23
1984	Roby		mia		44.7 (2)	1
1984	Hansen		nor		43.1 (4)	18
1983	Camarillo	nwe		44.6 (2)	20
1983	Birdsong	crd-stl		41.5 (9-t)	15
1982	Prestridge	den		45.0 (1)	25
1982	Jennings	nyg		42.8 (6)	19
1981	McInally	cin		44.8 (1)	2
1981	Skladany	det		43.5 (2)	3
1980	Guy		rai-oak		43.6 (3)	16
1980	Jennings	nyg		44.8 (1)	26
1979	Grupp		kan		43.1 (1)	26
1979	Jennings	nyg		42.7 (2)	27
1978	Guy		rai-oak		41.7 (4)	13
1978	Jennings	nyg		42.1 (2)	21
1977	Guy		rai-oak		43.3 (1)	2
1977	James		atl		41.2 (3)	25
1976	Guy		rai-oak		41.6 (3)	2
1976	James		atl		42.1 (2)	26
1975	Guy		rai-oak		43.8 (1)	6
1975	James		atl		41.5 (5)	21
1974	Guy		rai-oak		42.2 (1)	2
1974	Wittum		sfo		40.8 (5)	20
1973	Guy		rai-oak		45.3 (2)	12
1973	Wittum		sfo		43.7 (4)	17
1972	Wilson		kan		44.8 (1)	17
1972	Chapple		ram-la		44.2 (2)	11
1971	Wilson		kan		44.8 (1)	9
1971	Widby		dal		41.6 (8)	1
1970	Wilson		kan		44.9 (2)	15
1970	Green		chi		40.8 (14)	19
=============================================================

Another piece of information that I didn't list is the record of these teams that had Pro Bowl punters. The overall winning percentage for the 76 Pro Bowl punter teams since 1970 is only 0.490 (569-592-7). Take out Ray Guy's seven pro bowl seasons with the Oakland Raiders between 1973 and 1980, and the winning percentage for the remaining 69 seasons plummets to 0.464.

How is it that the best players at a position can collectively contribute so much that their teams have a losing record over a large span of time? Here are some possibilities:

16 Comments | Posted in General

AV All-franchise teams: NFC North

Posted by Doug on July 17, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I’ll post them by division.

Previous Divisions:

NFC West
NFC South
AFC North
AFC East

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I’m also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

Chicago Bears

QB   Jim Harbaugh          43
QB   Jim McMahon           43
RB   Walter Payton        127
RB   Neal Anderson         60
WR   Curtis Conway         38
WR   James Scott           34
TE   Emery Moorehead       34
T    Keith Van Horne       63
T    Jimbo Covert          58
T    James O. Williams     58
G    Mark Bortz            52
G    Tom Thayer            41
C    Jay Hilgenberg        68 

DT   Steve McMichael       97
DT   Jim Osborne           72
DE   Dan Hampton          104
DE   Richard Dent          95
ILB  Mike Singletary      124
ILB  Brian Urlacher        92
OLB  Lance Briggs          56
OLB  Otis Wilson           54
CB   Donnell Woolford      44
CB   Allan Ellis           40
CB   Terry Schmidt         40
CB   Mike Richardson       40
SS   Gary Fencik           78
FS   Mark A. Carrier       51

Detroit Lions

QB   Greg Landry           70+
RB   Barry Sanders        122
RB   Billy Sims            57
WR   Herman Moore          81
WR   Johnnie Morton        52
WR   Brett Perriman        52
TE   Charlie Sanders       60+
T    Lomas Brown           80
T    Rocky Freitas         66+
G    Bob Kowalkowski       41+
G    Homer Elias           34
C    Kevin Glover          56 

DT   Doug English          71
DT   Luther Elliss         50
DE   Robert Porcher        67
DE   William Gay           50
ILB  Chris Spielman        66
ILB  Ken Fantetti          41
OLB  Paul Naumoff          60+
OLB  Charlie Weaver        55
CB   Lem Barney            66+
CB   James Hunter          41
SS   Mike Weger            29+
FS   Bennie Blades         46

Green Bay Packers

QB   Brett Favre          147
RB   Ahman Green           75
RB   John Brockington      50
WR   James Lofton          78
WR   Sterling Sharpe       67
TE   Paul Coffman          49
T    Ken Ruettgers         55
T    Greg Koch             51
G    Marco Rivera          47
G    Ron Hallstrom         40
C    Frank Winters         52 

DT   Mike McCoy            50
DT   Santana Dotson        41
DE   Reggie White          83
DE   Sweeny Williams       52
ILB  Jim Carter            48
ILB  Brian Noble           45
OLB  Fred Carr             66+
OLB  John Anderson         59
CB   Ken Ellis             59
CB   Willie Buchanon       55
SS   LeRoy Butler          87
FS   Darren Sharper        55

Minnesota Vikings

QB   Daunte Culpepper      80

Tarkenton has 77. Two things: (1) It seems clear that AV overrates running QBs. I need to do something about that, but I'm not sure what. (2) as of 2008, Culpepper seems like a joke. But don't forget that he posted some really unbelievable statistical seasons. I'm not saying I agree with Culpepper over Tarkenton, but remember, AV only looks at the objective record. For all his faults, Culpepper still looks pretty good on that score.

RB   Chuck Foreman         80
RB   Robert Smith          61
WR   Cris Carter           92
WR   Randy Moss            85
TE   Steve Jordan          67
T    Ron Yary             116+
T    Tim Irwin             68
G    Randall McDaniel      97
G    David Dixon           51
C    Matt Birk             54 

DT   Alan Page            120+
DT   John Randle           97
DE   Carl Eller           102+
DE   Chris Doleman         93
ILB  Jeff Siemon           72
ILB  Scott Studwell        69
OLB  Matt Blair            75
OLB  Wally Hilgenberg      67+
CB   Carl Lee              66
CB   Bobby Bryant          66+
SS   Joey Browner          74
FS   Paul Krause           87+

16 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

AV All-franchise teams: AFC East

Posted by Doug on July 14, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I’ll post them by division.

Previous Divisions:

NFC West
NFC South
AFC North

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I’m also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

Buffalo Bills

QB   Jim Kelly            102
RB   Thurman Thomas       110
RB   O.J. Simpson          87+
WR   Andre Reed            96
WR   Eric Moulds           69
TE   Pete Metzelaars       39
T    Joe Devlin            60
T    Ken Jones             50
G    Joe DeLamielleure     63
G    Ruben Brown           63
C    Kent Hull             73 

DT   Fred Smerlas          81
DT   Ted Washington        52
DE   Bruce Smith          139
DE   Phil Hansen           63
ILB  Shane Conlan          50
ILB  Jim Haslett           41
OLB  Cornelius Bennett     71
OLB  Darryl Talley         64
CB   Charles Romes         54
CB   Nate Odomes           49
SS   Henry Jones           57
FS   Tony Greene           52

Miami Dolphins

QB   Dan Marino           146
RB   Tony Nathan           59
RB   Larry Csonka          58+
WR   Nat Moore             80
WR   Mark Duper            76
TE   Bruce Hardy           39
T    Richmond Webb         97
T    Norm Evans            54+
G    Larry Little          95+
G    Bob Kuechenberg       77
C    Jim Langer            80 

DT   Bob Baumhower         90
DT   Tim Bowens            63
DE   Jason Taylor         109
DE   Vern Den Herder       74
ILB  Zach Thomas          111
ILB  John Offerdahl        57
OLB  Larry Gordon          51
OLB  Doug Swift            47
CB   Sam Madison           79
CB   Curtis Johnson        55
SS   Dick Anderson         63+
FS   Jake Scott            72

New England Patriots

QB   Tom Brady             91
RB   Sam Cunningham        60
RB   Tony Collins          47
WR   Stanley Morgan        80
WR   Troy Brown            54
TE   Ben Coates            58
T    Bruce Armstrong       85
T    Matt Light            59
G    John Hannah          105
G    Sam Adams             44
C    Bill Lenkaitis        50+

DT   Ray Hamilton          53
DT   Tim Goad              41
DE   Willie McGinest       71
DE   Richard Seymour       69
ILB  Steve Nelson          70
ILB  Tedy Bruschi          66
OLB  Andre Tippett         90
OLB  Chris Slade           51
CB   Raymond Clayborn      75
CB   Mike Haynes           73
SS   Lawyer Milloy         56
FS   Fred Marion           49

New York Jets

QB   Ken O'Brien           71
RB   Curtis Martin         79
RB   Freeman McNeil        78
WR   Wesley Walker         72
WR   Wayne Chrebet         55
TE   Jerome Barkum         62
T    Marvin Powell         78
T    Winston Hill          48+
G    Randy Rasmussen       60+
G    Dan Alexander         60
C    Joe Fields            67 

DT   Joe Klecko            71
DT   Marty Lyons           50
DE   Mark Gastineau        80
DE   Shaun Ellis           47
ILB  Kyle Clifton          56
ILB  Marvin Jones          52
OLB  Mo Lewis              88
OLB  Lance Mehl            44
CB   Aaron Glenn           53
CB   James Hasty           42
SS   Victor Green          47
FS   Burgess Owens         36

17 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

AV All-franchise teams: AFC North

Posted by Doug on July 11, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I’ll post them by division.

Previous Divisions:

NFC West
NFC South

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I’m also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

Baltimore Ravens

QB   Vinny Testaverde      24
RB   Jamal Lewis           54
RB   Priest Holmes         17
WR   Travis Taylor         24
WR   Qadry Ismail          22
TE   Todd Heap             39
T    Jonathan Ogden       100
T    Orlando Brown         30
G    Edwin Mulitalo        27
G    Jeff Blackshear       21
C    Mike Flynn            32 

DT   Kelly Gregg           47
DT   Tony Siragusa         33
DE   Rob Burnett           48
DE   Michael McCrary       47
ILB  Ray Lewis            123
ILB  Ed Hartwell           26
OLB  Peter Boulware        60
OLB  Adalius Thomas        52
CB   Chris McAlister       72
CB   Duane Starks          23
SS   Ed Reed               61
FS   Rod Woodson           45

Cincinnati Bengals

QB   Ken Anderson         121
RB   James Brooks          71
RB   Corey Dillon          54
WR   Chad Johnson          73
WR   Isaac Curtis          67
TE   Rodney Holman         55
T    Anthony Munoz        137
T    Willie Anderson       86
G    Max Montoya           64
G    Dave Lapham           46
C    Bob Johnson           50+

DT   Tim Krumrie           65
DT   Mike Reid             47
DE   Eddie Edwards         61
DE   Ross Browner          51
ILB  Jim LeClair           59
ILB  Glenn Cameron         45
OLB  Reggie Williams       74
OLB  James Francis         44
CB   Ken Riley             89+
CB   Lemar Parrish         77
SS   David Fulcher         52
FS   Darryl Williams       30

Cleveland Browns

QB   Brian Sipe            74
RB   Greg Pruitt           68
RB   Mike Pruitt           56
WR   Reggie Rucker         46
WR   Webster Slaughter     39
TE   Ozzie Newsome         81
T    Doug Dieken           78
T    Cody Risien           64
G    Robert E. Jackson     48
G    Dan Fike              40
C    Tom DeLeone           48 

DT   Michael Dean Perry    71
DT   Jerry Sherk           65
DE   Rob Burnett           41
DE   Carl Hairston         37
ILB  Mike Johnson          47
ILB  Dick Ambrose          43
OLB  Clay Matthews         90
OLB  Charlie Hall          51
CB   Hanford Dixon         68
CB   Frank Minnifield      64
SS   Walt Sumner           31+
FS   Thom Darden           55

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB   Terry Bradshaw       106
RB   Franco Harris        101
RB   Jerome Bettis         65
WR   John Stallworth       80
WR   Hines Ward            72
TE   Bennie Cunningham     40
T    Larry Brown           68
T    Jon Kolb              67+
G    Alan Faneca           80
G    Sam Davis             48+
C    Mike Webster         100 

DT   Joe Greene           120+
DT   Gary Dunn             52
DE   L.C. Greenwood        95+
DE   Dwight White          65
ILB  Jack Lambert         114
ILB  Levon Kirkland        71
OLB  Jack Ham             119
OLB  Greg Lloyd            89
CB   Mel Blount           111
CB   Rod Woodson          104
SS   Donnie Shell          89
FS   Glen Edwards          50

17 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

Olympians who played in the NFL

Posted by Doug on July 10, 2008

As announced here and in the post below, there is a new member of the sports-reference family: Olympics at sports-reference.

I am trying to track down all olympians who also played in the NFL. Here's who I've got so far. This list is probably not complete. Please help me add to it if you can.

Jim Thorpe (olympic page)
Dudley DeGroot (olympic page)
Ollie Matson (olympic page)
Jack Riley (olympic page)
John Spellman (olympic page)
Bob Hayes (olympic page)
Sam Francis (olympic page)
Herschel Walker (olympic page)
Ron Brown (olympic page)

Other notes:

World-class hurdler and practice-squad-class football player Renaldo Nehemiah never participated in the Olympics. The boycotted Moscow games were right in the prime of his career.

Canadian basketball olympian Bobby Simpson is in the CFL's Hall of Fame.

Additionally, here is a sad bit of NFL history that I didn't know about, from the bio of sprinter Stone Johnson:

In the first semi-final of the 1960 US Olympic Trials, Stone Johnson equaled the world record in running 20.5 for the 200. He placed second in the final to Ray Norton. Sprinting for Grambling State, he was also second in the 1960 NCAA 200. He then turned to professional football. In a 1963 pre-season game, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Oakland Raiders, he sustained a broken neck and died 10 days later. Although he never played a down in a regular-season NFL game, his number 33 was retired by the Chiefs.

22 Comments | Posted in General

Olympics Blog at S-R » Olympics at Sports Reference Launches

Posted by Sean on July 9, 2008

Olympics Blog at S-R » Olympics at Sports Reference Launches

I am VERY pleased to announce that the newest member of the Sports Reference family has launched. Thanks to a tremendous database to work with and 50 long days by Justin Kubatko we now have a site chronicling all things RINGS. Visit the link above to get a taste for the depth of information that is currently and will soon be available.

3 Comments | Posted in General, P-F-R News, Word from our Sponsors

Who is the current Dave Duerson?

Posted by Doug on July 8, 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.

18 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General, History, P-F-R News

I’ve got a habit

Posted by Chase Stuart on July 7, 2008

Maybe it's the recent inundation of data that PFR now posseses, but I'm extremely skeptical whenever I see any study at all anymore. Many moons ago, Doug wrote an article on misusing statistics and the number of people distorting data has only increased since then. There are tons of sources on the internet that use a little bit of statistics and a lot of persuasive writing to convince you of things that aren't always true.

There's nothing wrong with statistical analysis, even when it's just a snap-shop of the pie. The problem is that people don't correctly view the analysis as meaningless trivia, but rather as really useful information. The lawyers in the crowd might draw an analog to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which keeps out certain relevant evidence "if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the" reader.

The problem isn't that there is something wrong with random evidence that's offered, but that data is highly prejudicial. People infer far more from it than they should. And that's why it should be left out. Understanding what's neat trivia and what's causal, valuable information is often tricky.

Why am I on this tangent today? As a Jets fan, you might think I was happy to read Pat Kirwan's recent article on NFL.com. As any football fan knows, Pat Kirwan is an incredible writer who has probably forgotten a bunch more about the NFL than I'll ever know. That being said, here's what he wrote:

7 Comments | Posted in General, Rant

What do you think…

Posted by Doug on July 3, 2008

Of the new front page, which features some random games and random players, and a random team. It changes daily, and the randomizer is rigged to choose more interesting games, players, and teams more often than non-interesting ones. Sometimes I run it a few times until I really like the "random" choices it makes.

Any other ideas for things to do with that middle column?

12 Comments | Posted in General

Top Ten Tight Ends of All-Time

Posted by Jason Lisk on July 1, 2008

So I finally sit down to watch the "Top Ten Tight Ends of All-Time" on the NFL Network, which has been airing over the last month. Full disclosure: I am from Kansas City and have watched Gonzalez his whole career. He is one of my all-time favorite players. He's a great team player and team leader, he practices hard, he sacrifices for the team, he blocks well in the running game, can run and make plays in the open field, and catches touchdown passes and makes tough catches in traffic. I settle into a comfortable spot on the couch, the kids are napping, and I have a few moments to bask in the glory that will be Tony Gonzalez appearing somewhere at the top of this list. It's like the NFL Draft, my team may not be drafting for a while, and I'm comfortable knowing this, but I am going to enjoy the lead up.

The list leads off with Antonio Gates is Number 10. Okay, he's been pretty dominant recently, but we still do not know where his career will end up. Probably a little low, but debateable.

Number 9 is Mark Bavaro. Interesting. By career numbers probably shouldn't be on this list, but again, debateable.

Number 8 is . . . Tony Gonzalez? What? My day is ruined. Am I crazy for having thought Gonzalez would be considered one of the best of all-time? He holds the tight end records for career receptions and touchdowns, and will pass Shannon Sharpe for most yards early next year. It's not like he is sticking around past his prime to just pad stats either. He was second team all-NFL in 2007, and played in a pro bowl for the ninth straight season (another tight end record). After this shock to the system, I can't even listen to what they are saying on the show, I'm so amazed.

So I get up and go to the laptop, pull up this website called pro-football-reference.com, and start comparing some numbers. And I am getting even madder. Bavaro and Gonzalez next to each other? To me, this is like saying Terrell Davis should be next to Walter Payton and Jim Brown on the all-time running back list.

Next up at #7 is Dave Casper. My blood pressure improves just a little bit. Casper had a nice career and was the dominant tight end of the late 1970's. Well-deserved on this list, just not in front of Gonzalez. The brief improvement in mood is immediately reversed by the revelation of Jackie Smith at #6. Talk about revisionist history. Why not just put Jay Novacek in front of Gonzalez instead? You know how many times Smith was acknowledged as the best tight end in the league by all-pro voting? The same number as me. Gonzalez--five times. You would have to engage in some serious "I walked to school uphill both ways, and every player was so much better back in my day" thinking to justify this ranking of Smith ahead of Gonzalez. Jackie Smith was a good tight end and had a nice long career, but he certainly was no Tony Gonzalez.

The remaining top five were (in order) Ozzie Newsome, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow, and John Mackey. I could continue to complain and rant, but let's get to some objective analysis first. Probably the best place to start, similar to what I talked about in comparing Jackie Smith to Gonzalez, is how the tight end was perceived at the time he was playing. Tight end is a unique position, in the sense that we have some statistics and can see how many receptions and touchdowns the tight end scored. But it also entails other things that aren't measured by statistics directly, such as how the tight end affected the game plan, and how good or bad of a blocker he was for the running game--all things that are part of the job description. Also, I wasn't around to see Ditka, Mackey, Smith, or Casper, and I have some vague memories of Winslow in the 1981 playoff game against the Dolphins.

So I'm not going to rely on my own opinions. And I'm surely not going to rely on the opinions of someone thirty years after the fact, particularly about a former teammate or contemporary that they are biased towards, as absence may tend to make the heart grow fonder. No, I'm going to rely on what writers and other people said about each tight end at the time they were playing, as represented by all-pro voting. This is especially important because it allows us to see how a tight end was perceived, beyond his raw numbers, when he was playing.

28 Comments | Posted in History, Rant