Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Jul 2014

Washington chapter

I can not convey just how disappointed I was by this chapter. Some actual analysis of how the season went so wrong and given that why the forecast for this season is more optimistic would have been nice (other than RG3 being "back"). Is adding Desean Jackson critical to the team? What does the new coach bring? Are we worried about concussions for Reed?
Instead we get a overly long D&D based joke attacking Synder. As a long suffering Washington Redskins fan I get it, I don't like the guy either but this is not the reason I buy the Almanac (or have bought it for many years now). Maybe the joke is just completely lost on me given I'm English?
As for not using the name, is this now FO policy? If so fair enough, but I would like to be clear on this to clear up any misunderstanding?

Posted by: Mr Skinner on 24 Jul 2014

30 replies , Last at 01 Sep 2014, 8:44am by jrbdmb

1
Re: Washington chapter
by Topas :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 9:05am

I did not read the section yet. But I have to comment that I can understand if the name is not changed. In the times of the internet everything (incl. all miscues) is stored and kept for ages. And therefore nobody dares to say anything of substance because there might be a controversy in it. And many minorities (in the sense of few people, not in the sense of ethical minority) do police the internet and cry foul if they find anything.

Considering that the name Redskins originated, to the best of my knowledge, from red Indians that painted their faces in RED, this is pretty much ridiculous. I do understand that red Indians do feel offended in case somebody says Redskin, using the word as an insult. And I really do not like any racism or similar. But the thing is that the intention is the bad thing. Not the word on its own.
I can say "you dirt bucket" to somebody as an insult. But I am not sure we want to get rid of the expression dirt bucket.

So I would feel a lot better in case we police "intentions" instead of "words". That would make a lot more sense to me and also make the world a better place. All we get out of this current moral policing, that it only increases the problem. And we get a lot of interviews that have no substance at all.

In case a word suffices the following three criteria:
a) not used in a racist ways (I dont believe anybody talks about the Washington Redskins and meanwhile thinks pejoratively about red Indians)
b) has a long history of usage in a non racist way (teamname)
c) and even originates from a non-racist context (painting faces red)
there needs not be a teamname change.

To be honest, I am not sure if c) is true but I read it somewhere. But actually only a) and b) would already qualify in my book for no team name change.
Sorry, my 2 cents. Not sure if this is the correct forum for this but I had to vent.

To the OP: Sorry for high-jacking your thread.

Topas

PS: Disclaimer: I am a Caucasian from Germany, in case anybody cares. And do not excuse racism in any way.

3
Re: Washington chapter
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:10am

I respectfully disagree.

First of all, words still matter when there is a long history of intentions behind the word. When you go back through 17-18 century European colonial/early American literature, "redskin" was used far more commonly in a negative connotation, while the term "Indian" was used far more commonly in a neutral and positive connotation. Just to give you some context, a horrific example were official decrees by various colonial governments that offered bounties for the scalps of "red-skins" (the term was used most often in this context).

The point of this little history lesson is to illustrate the fact that pejorative names are often used in the context of violence, and is the reason their usage evokes such emotion. It's the same reason that "Negro" and "N*gger" have similar origins, but will evoke dramatically different reactions if you utter them in public. The usage of the term "redskin" in racist ways has been far longer than, and predates the history of using it in, as you say, in "non-racist" ways.

Second of all, a lot of native americans been vocal for a while about the fact that they find the term offensive. I haven't heard very much from the supposedly large (according the Daniel Snyder) population of native americans that have no problem with the word. If I had heard more from them, then I would probably have little to say about this matter. (and please don't bring up polls from 10 years ago, that haven't been independently verified for containing a representative sample). You shouldn't get to call somebody something that they find offensive, just because you don't think they should be offended.

-"I can say "you dirt bucket" to somebody as an insult. But I am not sure we want to get rid of the expression dirt bucket."

That analogy doesn't really work, since "dirt bucket" isn't really an ethnic/racial/gender/sexual orientation slur. In your case, since you state that you are German (not sure if you are an American of German descent, or you are a German national), a better analogy would be that even though "Kraut" is a pejorative term, that doesn't mean we should get rid of the word "Sauerkraut" ("Kraut" or "Hun" may or may not offend many Germans today, but it probably would have offended a lot of German-Americans who lived here through both World Wars).

I have a personal example, being an American of Indian descent (Indian from India, not the Native American). "Dothead" and "Macacca" are pejorative terms for my ethnicity. By themselves, they seem benign, but the history of usage matters. In fact, "Maccaca" is the name of a genus of Old World monkeys, so I wouldn't say to get rid of the word. But if someone called me that to my face, I would consider risking arrest for an aggravated assault charge (not because of the word, but because I know the history and intentions behind the word). [And just for people who think the term only became offensive after the George Allen controversy in 2006, let me assure you that I have older relatives who were alive during the British Colonial days, and they knew exactly what the word meant].

16
Re: Washington chapter
by Topas :: Mon, 07/28/2014 - 3:48am

Many thanks for your thoughtful response. Very good points. I am still not sure if I agree with all points, but I realize that my statements might be motivated because I hate the morality cudgel, thats wants to have the whole world 100% politically correct and hunts down all statments irrespective of intention. I do realize that this might not be the case here.

PS: I am not offended by Kraut. I even think it is funny, especially because of the sound. And I am German origin, not US. But I have no idea if others are offended by that term. And that does not in anyway affect the Redskins discussion.

2
Re: Washington chapter
by Mr Skinner :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:01am

Not the main point of my post but the name issue is interesting.

To be fair, Topas, as another white Caucasian based in Europe I have no "feel" for whether the term Redskin is racist or not. Part of my belief that the word Redskin as a term was acceptable was the fact there was an NFL team using the moniker! That is about as backward thinking as you can get. When the killer question was asked, would you use the term Redskin to describe someone to their face? Honestly my answer two years ago or so would have been a (blissfully unaware) yes. I wouldn't say that now and so maybe the name does need to change.

4
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:36am

Skip the name argument. I'm for changing the name.

I'd just like a real chapter like 31 other teams. I come to FO for football analysis. I can make fun of Dan Snyder in my own time.

5
Re: Washington chapter
by skinsfan77 :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:58am

I could not agree more with the original poster. FO used to be about advanced statistics. Causation, explanation, and prediction. I am not for the team name and probably would welcome a change, but that's not the point. The point is that they wasted the entire chapter on the owner and his past and how horrible he has been and still is. Who cares? Is this what FO has become? Op-ed pieces? I want to know the stats. What was luck and what was true. I've purchased every single almanac since inception and this is by far the worst team chapter I have ever read. FO has a long way to go before they can ever be compared to BP, who still tries their best to analyze the numbers and stay out of the media driven headlines.

Money was wasted this year.

6
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:03pm

This chapter is a joke and insulting. Either talk about the team like the 31 other teams, or just remove them from the documents and stats and everything.

7
Re: Washington chapter
by skinsfan77 :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:08pm

Exactly. Schatz and company completely forgot why people by their book.

9
Re: Washington chapter
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 2:15pm

After all the hubub, I just had to go read the Washington chapter to see for myself. Despite not being a fan of the team, I have to agree with everyone else who's posted here. I love to make fun of Dan Snyder as much as any red-blooded American football fan, but this should have been a Walkthrough column, not an FOA chapter.

10
Re: Washington chapter
by Rocco :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 3:59pm

Not a Skins fan, but that was a pretty terrible chapter. One of their previous books had a chapter that was essentially a Snyder Takedown Chapter but it was actually well written (2006 I think?).

11
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 4:02pm

I didn't realize people actually had to write about something so blatantly obvious - that Snyder is a fool.

Just want to talk/read about actual, on the field football.

8
Re: Washington chapter
by alien1rock :: Thu, 07/24/2014 - 2:06pm

+1.

What the hell? Now I even have to read about this crap on the statistics website? We get it, you hate Snyder and the Redskins organizational philosophies, you've made it clear in every version for the last 5 years.

I would have been much less upset with a chapter that simply said "We don't know what they'll look like with a new coaching staff. Here are last year's stats:"

12
Re: Washington chapter
by Mr Skinner :: Fri, 07/25/2014 - 3:03am

Having read some of the other chapters, such as Buffalo and Baltimore's- I am even more annoyed now given how good they were at setting out what is happening at those teams. Hey FO, I love the site and the prior stuff, I love 90% plus of your work but you have with respect got this one so badly wrong I would politely request a redo! If this was homework from my boy for school I'd tell him to rewrite it!

13
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:30am

It is just piling on. We are fans of the team, but that does not mean we have to like the owner. I just want a fair chapter about football, the coaching staff, etc.

If you are going to write a chapter like this, just leave it out. We are fans of the team, not necessarily the owner or management. Either treat the team the same or just remove all mentions of it - not just from the book. From your data, from articles, everything.

14
Re: Washington chapter
by BD :: Sat, 07/26/2014 - 3:23pm

I actually loved this chapter and thought it was brilliant, although I love Joe Dever (and thus get the joke) and am indifferent about the Washington football team.

I understand fans of the team being a little bit upset, but at the same time, the template for a straightforward Washington chapter has been the same for the last 14 years, which is the point of the satire, isn't it? Team signs big name for too high price (in $ and/or draft picks), rest of the team are scrubs.

15
Re: Washington chapter
by alien1rock :: Sun, 07/27/2014 - 1:48pm

If we're looking for satire about the Redskins, we can go to Deadspin and not waste our $$.

18
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Mon, 07/28/2014 - 3:27pm

So because the team owner, who many fans of the team do not like, is a jerk, we don't deserve regular football analysis?

Is FO in the business of writing joke chapters in their once a year main publication?

We are football fans, just like fans of the other 31 teams. Talk football.

19
Re: Washington chapter
by jklps :: Mon, 07/28/2014 - 3:28pm

System duplicated my comment, so I edited this one out.

17
Re: Washington chapter
by c_t_ :: Mon, 07/28/2014 - 11:30am

1. FO almost always produces excellent analysis. This chapter was terrible. Even the format was awkward (CAPS words, dashes, an empty "Action Chart", and so forth). I really see FO as a standard of excellence for NFL analysis, so this chapter is a tremendous disappointment.

2. Whatever your opinion of the team name, I don't want to read about it in the FO Almanac.

3. The chapter read a bit like a user manual for Dungeons & Dragons - but I've never played D & D, so I'm guessing here. Am I in any way on the right track: that there is some inside joke that I'm not getting?

(Disclosure: the Redskins are not the team I cheer for)

20
Re: Washington chapter
by Rivers McCown :: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 7:04pm

Hey angry people! Chapter writer here.

I'll definitely think twice about creating a chapter like this in the future. It was an experiment, and as we were under the gun on time, I think that made Aaron more amenable to letting it pass without a challenge.

What this really comes down to is a simple matter of the audience. I've had people tell me it was the funniest, best, chapter in the book. I've had people call me a hack for it -- or otherwise insinuate bad things -- in many places besides this thread. If you are angry with the chapter, it's likely that you were not the intended audience for it. And that is perfectly okay, and you can call it shit and think I am the world's worst person. I can live with that.

In the future, with ideas I have like this, I'll let them be an aside rather than letting them become the chapter. I'm not typically a writer who aims for controversy. I saw a piece idea I wanted to pull off and went for it. If you'd like me to mail you a quarter for "wasting" your time -- which is probably my per-chapter cut of each book we sell -- shoot me an email. rivers (dot) mccown (dot) work (at) gmail (dot) com.

RM

27
Re: Washington chapter
by Mirshaan :: Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:49pm

What a response......... /eyeroll....

"If you'd like me to mail you a quarter for "wasting" your time"

Good job with trivializing people's feelings toward your blatant mocking of our team. You really come off arrogant here....

" If you are angry with the chapter, it's likely that you were not the intended audience for it."

More mocking... thanks! Good of you to continue to trivialize people's reactions...

"shoot me an email. rivers (dot) mccown (dot) work (at) gmail (dot) com."

Prepare to be signed up for a million or so newsletters of various inappropriate subject matters. ;)

30
Re: Washington chapter
by jrbdmb :: Mon, 09/01/2014 - 8:44am

"In the future, with ideas I have like this, I'll let them be an aside rather than letting them become the chapter."

Bingo. I enjoyed your chapter, but I totally understand how those who wanted a straightforward analysis were disappointed. I'd say if you want to do something like this in the future give Washington an extra page, have your Danny rant plus the standard stuff.

21
Re: Washington chapter
by Mr Skinner :: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 5:08am

Rivers, thanks for the response. Any chance you can do a Washington article on FO website which is more in keeping with the analysis I assume most people expect from the Almanac?
I wasn't angry and I don't think you are "shit", I just think it was a massive misjudgement with regards to what the team chapters are actually meant to be.

22
Re: Washington chapter
by Rivers McCown :: Thu, 08/07/2014 - 4:17pm

That's not going to happen, sorry.

23
Re: Washington chapter
by JoeyHarringtonReigns :: Thu, 08/07/2014 - 4:38pm

If you'd like me to mail you a quarter for "wasting" your timE

DO YOU HAVE PAYPAL?

24
Re: Washington chapter
by c_t_ :: Tue, 08/12/2014 - 3:57pm

Rivers - thanks for the response. Much appreciated.

25
Re: Washington chapter
by skinsfan77 :: Fri, 08/15/2014 - 10:49pm

really glad Rivers responded, very classy. However, I would just like to add that the quarter back refund bit was almost as bad as the entire write up. For starters, marginalizing our disdain because it was such a small portion of the book just makes the semi-apology worthless. Furthermore, taking the 1/n approach to coming up with the presumed value of the refund is about the worst way to calculate it; it is the #1 fault of how non-finance types allocate their 401 k. For Redskins fans, the team chapter might be worth up to half of the cost of the book! Just saying.

26
Re: Washington chapter
by Mirshaan :: Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:37pm

I came here today specifically to say the same thing that many here are saying.

I have bought your book for nearly 8 years. I was beyond infuriated w/ your chapter on the Redskins. Calling the chapter the "Washington Controversies" was bad enough. Then you go on an attempted humorous diatribe about Dan Snyder, the name of the team, etc. While some of it is legitimate facts (win/loss numbers, grabbing at washed up players...), the majority of it was simply opinion-based BS.

Saying that Dan Snyder is the next David Stern was WAAAY out of line. Perhaps you may have forgotten this, but Dan didn't name the Redskins. David Stern was recorded making actual racist remarks of his own creation and own mind. Dan is trying to protect the name of his franchise, his business, his livelihood. There's a HUGE difference in that and what David Stern did. Comparing the two was a totally classless low-blow.

Being a Redskins fan, I am so beyond mad that I spent money on the book, a big portion of which is to read about my own team. To spend that money on what I thought was a factual, statistical publication only to find that you've subjected my team to a piling on, Bob Costas-like soap box speech was infuriating.

And speaking of which, skinsfan77 above is absolutely right. Your mocking "give you a quarter" statement is simply spitting in our face more and oh-so condescending. Screw giving me a quarter for my time.... how about you give me my money back that I spent on your book that blatantly mocked my team?

And telling me that "If you are angry with the chapter, it's likely that you were not the intended audience for it." is simply stupid. One would assume that the biggest intended audience for your chapter on the Redskins would most likely be (duh) Redskins fans. Do you really think many Redskin fans are finding that chapter funny or insightful? Who did you think that the "intended audience" was, I wonder?

Stick to the stats. Save the PC BS for Costas. Football Outsiders is better than this.

28
Re: Washington chapter
by Paydro :: Fri, 08/22/2014 - 3:04pm

...You mean Donald Sterling, not David Stern. Stern is the former NBA commissioner.

Also, get a grip, dude. It's one thing to complain (fairly) that Washington fans didn't get the kind of analytical chapter they expected and paid for, as others have done here. It's also fair to take Rivers to task for his inappropriate and mocking reply.

But it's another to actually defend Dan Snyder, and pretend he's "trying to protect his livelihood." First, it's not his livelihood. He's a billionaire. Second, like Sterling, Snyder has indeed make "actual racist remarks of his own creation," most notably when he told Asians to "emulate Charlie Chan." Dude sucks, and while he's not yet Donald Sterling, give him time.

29
Re: Washington chapter
by 95bob :: Sun, 08/31/2014 - 6:03pm

Rivers, you have until Wednesday noon to rewrite the Washington chapter and send an email blast to all subscribers to inform them of the edit. We know you can do it.

Call this a hard deadline.

Respectfully,
Bob