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The Great Pro-Football Reference Play Index Rollout: Part I

Posted by Neil Paine on August 25, 2009

Well, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. I realize that you've been waiting a long time for something like this, and by gosh, it's finally here. You know, the term "life-changing" is thrown around all too often these days, but I think you'll find it entirely appropriate for what we're doing here at Pro-Football-Reference this week. Due to popular demand and the subsequent blood, sweat, and tears of Sports-Reference's resident master programmer, Justin Kubatko, PFR can now proudly stand side by side with its baseball-centric sister site and shout loud and clear: "Yes! Now I, too, have a Play Index!" And if that doesn't bring a tear of joy to your eye... well, I just don't know what will.

All melodrama aside, in case you can't tell, we're really excited about this, and we hope you are, too. This week we're finally unveiling a Play Index for football, the long-awaited product of a lot of hard work over the past month-plus. Today will mark the debut of three components of the new PFR P-I: the improved Game Logs, the Splits, and the improved Touchdown Log, and I'm here to guide you through their use.

Game logs are nothing new to PFR, of course; we've had the feature for a quite a while now. But in the past, they came with a single page for a player's entire career, and you couldn't sort by a particular category unless you wanted to do it for his full career. The same went for playoff games, which were on another page entirely and suffered from the same problems. Our fancy new Game Logs, however, fix all of these problems. Much like our popular gamelogs at Baseball-Reference, the new PFR logs break up a player's games by season, allowing you to look at his entire career if you want, but also letting you isolate a particular year (including playoff games, on the same page at last) and sort only using that dataset. These changes should make the logs much easier to read and use for research, because I think they're far more flexible thanks to the new drop-down menus. It should also be noted that sacks, interceptions, defensive TDs, and kick and punt returns are included in the new game logs, whereas the old version just had passing, rushing, receiving stats.

A big part of the improved game logs are the new Splits, one of this week's most impressive additions to the site. Unlike the other 2 features we're rolling out today, this is something that isn't just an improvement -- it's a totally new feature the likes of which has never been available on the internet before (yes, some splits exist for semi-recent seasons, but I dare you to find Terry Bradshaw's 1974 splits somewhere else). Just like the splits at B-R, this tool breaks down a player's stats into every conceivable category, including home/road, by wins/losses, by the final margin of games, by month of the year and day of the week, and even by conference, division, and opposing franchise. And just like the game logs, you can call up a player's splits for an entire career or for just a single season, allowing you to call up specific facts faster than ever before.

Finally, there's the TD log, which was also an existing feature but has been improved with this week's upgrade. The top of the log page shows almost twice as many splits for each touchdown scored, and the tables have become far more understandable at a second's glance. Not only that, but we've linked to the box scores more readily, in case you wanted to see more context for each TD. And, like our other new features today, the logs are sortable by career and season, which is a huge improvement over the old career-only format.

We hope you enjoy these new features today, and I'd like to remind you that the best is yet to come -- we're going to continue our rollout with one of the most-requested features in PFR history tomorrow. You won't want to miss it!

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