26 Sep 2005
Football Outsiders is proud to announce that it has signed an agreement with FOX to become a major contributor to the NFL page at FOXSports.com. As part of this deal, Football Outsiders analysis will also be featured on the home page of MSN.
Our contribution to FOXSports.com begins with three weekly articles that will be exclusive to FOXSports.com:
In addition, FOXSports.com will be republishing a series of FO columns after they first appear on our site, including Black and Blue Report, Scramble for the Ball, Every Play Counts, Any Given Sunday, Too Deep Zone, and Four Downs. And we will be writing additional material for FOXSports.com, including playoff previews and draft coverage.
The agreement has been in the works for some time (did anyone notice that Scramble for the Ball switched to using FOXSports.com odds for Best Bets?) and it the best part about it is that FOX wanted material from all of Football Outsiders, not just from me. Writing Snap Judgment for ESPN last year gave me some income and introduced a lot of people to my writing, but writing for FOX will give all of us some income and introduce a lot of people to the entire Football Outsiders staff.
Yes, we're working on the right format for that, but those threads will be hosted here on FO.
College football content will not appear on FOX, but don't forget that you can also find Russell's analysis in the New York Sun every Monday and Friday. I also expect that Jason's cartoons will not appear on FOX.
I'm not sure on that one yet. I would like to still do a DVOA commentary for FO, which gives me the ability to write more about one or two specific teams or players instead of having to write a specific comment for each team. It would also be sad to give up one of the two columns that dates back to the start of the website in 2003 (Scramble for the Ball being the other). On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm going to have the time to do both. We'll see how it goes. If I can't do the more complex commentary on FO, the more complex DVOA ratings will still appear in the Just the Stats section each week.
I still haven't decided. The readership seems split on the question of which version is easier to understand. I still say that adjusted points +/- zero still has the same problem as the current DVOA percentages, the "defensive is negative" problem that seems to cause more complaints than anything else on this website. The FOX Power Ratings will only list each team's rank from 1-32.
Hmmm. You know, we just realized this Friday ...
OK, I hear you. We'll try it that way this week and then take a poll as to which way people prefer.
Tuesday after Week 3 games are played, although the Top 5 boxes will return today.
Yes, we will finally start running updates on Loser League in this week's Scramble.
The answer to this question is not a happy one. It had to be something big for someone who makes his living writing about the NFL to disappear for the first two weeks of the season, and it was.
My father, Rabbi Steven D. Schatz, passed away on September 14 at the age of 59. He had numerous heart problems and was in end stage renal failure, in large part because he had suffered from type 1 ("juvenile") diabetes since the age of 15.
I was very close to my father and we shared many interests, so it was strange that my career became focused around the one interest we didn't share. My dad didn't care about sports and knew nothing about football. Still, I like to think that my work here at Football Outsiders had its origin in my father's spirit of intellectual exploration. He taught me to always ask questions, that Judaism in fact was a religion based on never being afraid to ask questions. Rabbis spend their lives studying a book, the Talmud, consisting primarily of argument and discussion, where conventional wisdom is never accepted at face value and questions about the most mundane aspects of our lives are debated in an attempt to reveal deeper truths. That's really what we're doing here, except that we're talking about football instead of the intricacies of fast days or what to do when your ox grazes on your neighbor's land.
When I was a teenager, my father had a short sentence written on a worn index card that was pinned to the bottom corner of a bulletin board in his office: "The best is the enemy of the better." That sentence will sound familiar to a lot of readers. It appears in the introduction to the book, it has appeared many times on this site, and Will even used it once in an Under the Knife column on BP. It is the answer I give whenever I am asked about the fact that our analysis will never be able to perfectly measure every action on the field, or perfectly predict how teams and players will fare in the future.
When I got the call on September 9, I quickly jotted a note to the rest of the staff asking them to take control of the website, and headed out to the hospital in California. My father's funeral was on Thursday, and I then refrained from work for seven days as is the Jewish custom, and I'm just slowly getting back into the swing of things.
I dropped all of my projects when I went to California, which means that a lot of things were never quite finished. That starts with the FOX contract, which is why we had to wait until the third week of the season to announce it. I never finished a mailbag article that addressed questions about this year's DVOA projections. I never finished my work on an early-season "WEIGHTED DVOA" that combined preseason projections with early performance for more accuracy. I didn't manage or participate in the first two weeks of the game charting project. I'm even more behind on returning e-mails than I was two weeks ago. We never finished fixing the e-mail notification program, so nobody has gotten an e-mail notification about new articles for a while. And we didn't finish dealing with a few re-design issues for the FO website, which is why the new separate page for the weekly open discussion threads didn't show up until this weekend.
I'm back to work now, but it is going to be a little messy around here for a couple weeks as we work out bugs in the 2005 stat updates (and Loser League updates), integrate links to our FOX content into the site, and deal with the likely increase in traffic. Also, let's be frank, I'm not in the mood to be a workaholic right now. I ask everyone to be patient as we go through some badly-timed growing pains.
I was afraid that a note like this would seem oddly exhibitionist, and thought perhaps that I should just return to doing weekly stats and articles without telling anyone why there were no stats or articles from me for the first two weeks of the season. But I want to change this negative event into something positive. Jewish custom is not to send flowers after death but to make a contribution to charity in honor of the deceased. The last time I ever spoke to my father, he was obssessed with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. I know that many people have already given a ton to the folks down on the Gulf Coast, but for those who still can give, my father wanted to give to a specific charity and the address was scribbled on an index card on his desk when we went to gather his things. Those who are interested can make donations in the memory of Rabbi Steven Schatz to:
Once again, my thanks go out to the rest of the staff of Football Outsiders (particularly Benjy, who took the lead) for keeping the site running smoothly while I was offline, with tons of new content. Thanks also to Bill Moore for taking the lead on game charting, and to the FOX folks for being very understanding about postponing our deal, and to the PROTRADE guys, who had to launch their site without me around.
One last request, which I hope does not sound ungrateful. I ask that people not use the comment thread here to post a simple message of condolence. I presume that most of our readers feel that way, and I thank everyone for their support at a difficult time, and I'd rather leave the discussion thread here to look towards the future with people's questions and comments about the FOX deal and the formatting for DVOA ratings and other such things.
-- Aaron Schatz
106 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2005, 12:27am by Sara Zaremberg