Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Dec 2010

Walkthrough: Overshadowed

by Mike Tanier

New from Football Outsiders Press

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Jaguars Option

The Jaguars have been running the option as a wrinkle all season. They executed a few interesting option plays against the Raiders, including this variation on the triple-counter option.

Figure 1: Jaguars' Option

Figure 1 shows the Jaguars in a two-tight end I-formation. It is third-and-3 in the fourth quarter, with the Jaguars leading by four. Considering the situation, it is not surprising that the Raiders crowd the box with nine defenders. The Jaguars are at the Raiders' 30-yard line, so they are unlikely to pass. A run for no gain sets up a makeable 47-yard field goal, and the Jaguars aren't exactly risk takers.

David Garrard (9) pivots left at the snap and fakes a handoff to Greg Jones (33). The left side of the line, including the tight end, blocks inside-out as if opening an inside hole for Jones. The fullback fake works, freezing linebacker Travis Goethel (50), an inexperienced defender.

The right side of the Jaguars line wins the line of scrimmage battle, with the tight end sealing the edge well. Right tackle Jordan Black (77) climbs out to the second level and wipes out Goethel. That leaves strong safety Tyvon Branch (33) with a multiple-choice problem: Does he try to tackle Garrard, or does he stay wide to stop the pitch to Maurice Jones-Drew?

Officially, Jones-Drew is Branch's responsibility. Unlike basketball, in which the defender on a fast break worries about the ball first, option defenders are supposed to maintain lane responsibility. Also, Garrard almost always pitches on these option plays. I have seen the Jaguars run a bunch of options, and Garrard "thinks pitch," which makes sense when you are 32 years old and don't want to get crushed by angry Raiders linebackers.

So Branch commits body, heart, and soul to stopping Jones-Drew. Garrard executes a beautiful-but-unnecessary fake, selling the pitch with his head and body. Branch just lets Garrard run right inside of him. It looks like a Jedi mind trick, but Branch would have needed to do something superhuman to stop this play. Garrard runs straight down the sideline until free safety Michael Huff brings him down.

The Titans ran a version of this option last year with Vince Young and Chris Johnson. NFL teams have proven in the last two seasons that option plays are a viable wrinkle, and that some of the dangers of the college-style option (like an unblocked Julius Peppers body-slamming your quarterback) can be minimized with proper play design. This year's Jaguars, like last year's Titans, are trying to generate big plays from their running game, and an option is a great way to get Jones-Drew (or Garrard) on the edge with room to run. We will be seeing more of the Jaguars option in the weeks to come, and even in the playoffs.

Overshadowed

Remember the New York Giants?

Founded in 1925, the Giants were one of the NFL's most storied franchises until the summer of 2010, when the Jets claimed territorial rights to New York City. The Giants became a wild-and-wooly barnstorming team, touring the country and winning a lot of games, until a blizzard stranded them in Kansas City. The team decided to stroll along a railroad trestle while waiting for the snow to clear, but they slipped on an icy rail and plunged, collectively, into the Missouri River. Their obituary was relegated to page 33 of the Newark Star Ledger, because the day they disappeared, a Jets quality control assistant sniped a Dolphins punt returner from the coach's booth with a potato gun.

Legend has it that the Giants survived the trestle incident, traveled by dogsled to Detroit and defeated the Vikings, but there is scant video evidence to support that theory. The game wasn't nationally televised, so it didn't happen. ESPN did run a spooky crawl beneath the pregame show for Ravens-Texans. "Breaking News: Brett Favre on the sidelines in street clothes. Favre's consecutive game streak snapped at 297. Tarvaris Jackson sacked for a loss of 12 on third-and-10 by a spectral Barry Cofield. Brett Favre on inactive list. Brett Favre is not playing. Chirs Kluwe punts to a wraith-like Will Blackmon. Brett Favre on the sidelines with street clothes."

Several eyewitnesses swear that the Giants were in Detroit on Monday night, beating the Vikings 21-3. These witnesses are of dubious trustworthiness. Many of them were Lions fans, and seeing the Vikings lose is a wish-fulfillment fantasy of theirs. According to Stub Hub, tickets for the Vikings-Someone game ranged in price from $7 to $8,588. You would have to feel pretty ripped off to pay almost nine grand for a game, only to find that the guy behind you got through the gate for three orders of magnitude less. Or free, as many tickets to the alleged game were given away. But maybe nine grand bought the right to stand on the sidelines in street clothes.

If the Giants do exist, then they must find a way of drawing attention to themselves in a trump-card world where blizzard topples dome, Favre tops blizzard, Jets top Favre (you may hate them, but you have to love them for that), and Derek Jeter will probably top Jets once he wrestles Croesus' credit cards away from some baseball owner. Maybe the Giants can take out one of those full-page newspaper ads that Academy Award long-shots use to get attention. ("For your consideration: Jennifer Aniston, Best Actress, The Bounty Hunter.") Maybe they can prevail upon the NFL to let them replace the Falcons in those Play 60 public service announcements. You know the ones: The team is on the bus, jamming to music with kids, anticipating a fun-filled romp in the fields. A shot of Matt Ryan, a shot of an anonymous Falcons player, then Mike Smith, another anonymous Falcons player, yet another anonymous Falcons player, Oh my God a desiccated corpse slumped and moldering slowly on the seat ... oh, sorry, Arthur Blank ... another anonymous Falcons player. Unfortunately, Tom Coughlin would probably order all the children to sit in silence on the bus, then make them spend the sunny afternoon doing military chin-ups and memorizing the Baltimore catechism. Assuming he is still alive.

If the rumors are true, and the Giants still walk among us, they face Michael Vick and the Eagles this week for the lead in the NFC East and an inside track for a playoff berth. It's an important game in a marquee division, yet the media coverage priorities will line up thusly: 1) Vick. 2) The Jets crisis. 3) Favre's future. 4) Where will the Favre-less Vikings play? 5) Cliff Lee, absorbing what's left of the Philly media after Vick super-saturation. 6) The Giants. In fact, I boldly predict that most Giants articles will have a "Why is everyone overlooking the Giants?" spin, just like this one.

Tune in next week when I call upon deep sea divers, paleo-cryptologists, and Doug Farrar to find evidence of the Seattle Seahawks.

Self Promotion

The Phanatic Code is finished! Well, it is in the proofreading stage, in which I try to find all of my creative spelling choices before they slip past a copy editor and names like Sean Bradley and Chaise Uttleee make their way into permanent print. It has been a long road, but I am happy with the results, and the handful of editors who have read the rough drafts are convinced that I will sell dozens of copies.

To that end, I assembled a little FAQ about the project.

What is The Phanatic Code about?

The Phanatic Code is about 50 remarkable players and their relationship with millions of remarkable fans. It's about five decades of glory and frustration, about transcendent champions and tragically flawed heroes. It's the story of the mysterious relationship between a city and it's pantheon of heroes, a vicious love-hate cycle that has been handed down for generations. It's about a mythology of failure that has grown toxic over the last half-century and about those rare players and events that broke the cycle of disappointment allowed fans to embrace their sports stars.

So ... it's a sports book, in other words.

Yes. Lots and lots of sports.

Who are the 50 players?

I won't divulge the full list, but any Philly sports fan can rattle off about 25 of the players without thinking. Bobby Clarke, Julius Erving, Mike Schmidt, Randall Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain, Eric Lindros ... none of those names will surprise anyone. A lot of contemporary players make the list as well, so you can see where Chase Utley or Brian Dawkins rank among the old-timers.

Is Chuck Bednarik No. 1?

Chuck Bednarik is relegated to the book's introduction. The Phanatic Code has a strict 50-year timeline, dated to the book's 2011 release. Bednarik's last great year was in 1960. Let's face it: No one under 60 has any clear memories of Bednarik, so he isn't really a player in most of our minds. He's a Symbol of Greatness. The Phanatic Code is a book about players we still remember well enough to sometimes say bad things about.

Is the book limited to Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles?

There are two boxers as well. There are no collegiate superstars, cyclists, figure skaters, etc. Leaving out college basketball stars was difficult, but once you start listing Big Five legends, you open a whole new jar of Cheese Whiz.

What about coaches?

They get their own chapter. Philly teams had such fascinating coaches that they would overwhelm the players' list. If I gave Buddy Ryan or Andy Reid (or Larry Brown or Gene Mauch or Fred Shero) his own chapter, I would lose a lot of interesting second-tier players.

Is the book a conventional history, encyclopedia, or list of biographies?

Not at all. Player essays touch on events that helped shape Philadelphia's fan perception of them. There's very little "born on the windswept plains of Flin Flon" biographical material, and many player stories are told in non-chronological sequence. In the Lindros chapter, for instance, I start when he was stripped of his captaincy, switch to an overview of his career, go through the sequence of his concussions, backtrack a few years to the Stanley Cup Finals, then end at the Spectrum closing ceremony when all of the old captains took the ice. It may sound like chaos, but it works on the page. I hope. What I wanted was to capture a little of the free-form logic of a taproom conversation about a player. "Remember the game that went on until 3 a.m.? Remember what he said in The Inquirer back in 1997? I hated him when we traded him but loved him when we got him back." That sort of thing.

Is it funny?

There are jokes in The Phanatic Code, but I don't do as many rim shots as I do in the typical Walkthrough intro. When I am commenting on some of the naturally funny moments in Philly sports history, I try to be funny. But this book spans 50 years of history and touches on topics like suicide and domestic violence, so obviously it's not a full-throttle mirth-festival. Hopefully, you will laugh about the Darren Daulton chapter, be touched by the Pelle Lindbergh chapter, and maybe get a little angry during the Eric Lindros chapter.

I am a Walkthrough reader, but I am not that interested in the Philly sports experience. Can I still enjoy this book?

If you are a Walkthrough reader, then you are sure to be interested in the chapters about Ron Jaworski, Brian Westbrook, Tommy McDonald, Terrell Owens, and other Eagles stars/characters that make up about a quarter of the book. As for the other sports, if names like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Bobby Clarke, Joe Frazier, Dick Allen, and Pete Rose fascinate you as a general sports fan, then you will find plenty to love.

I hate Philly sports books because they are filled with whining -- whining about the 1964 Phillies, about how few championships the city sports teams have won, and about all of the lousy trades and draft picks. Is The Phanatic Code just a rehash of the same stories?

There's probably a little whining, though I tried to minimize it. There are two kinds of Philly sports books: love-fests about Erving or the Broad Street Bullies, and "airing of grievances" books about all the players who let us down. I try to nod at both genres while writing something new. I take a few shots at local writers who insist on tying the 1964 Phillies and the JFK assassination together into one B.S. coming-of-age fairy tale (it's surprisingly common). Only one or two "epic failure" players get more than a passing mention. I tried to tell a different story as often as I could. I think I steered clear of most of the clichés, though you can't write about Philly sports without puckering up a bit for guys like Bernie Parent.

When will it be out?

I am not sure. Early spring I hope.

So really, what happens in the book?

Little girls are spat upon. Puerto Rican flags are thrown to the floor. Russian hockey players flee the ice in terror. State legislatures are educated on the finer points of racial differences. Backboards shatter. Practice is skipped. Television cameras capture parking lot sit-ups and "C" sewing ceremonies. Rush Limbaugh, Whitney Houston, and Pope John Paul II make cameos. Players become senators, bloggers, New Age gurus, insider traders, biblical scholars, workaday citizens, and spooky recluses. Guns flash. Cars crash. The Celtics get beaten. The Canadiens get beaten. The Yankees and Edmonton Oilers get taken to the wall. Muhammad Ali gets beaten. And just about every player in the book gets booed, at least once.

Broadcast Blues

If you have never checked out the A.V. Club, you should. Loosely affiliated with The Onion, the A.V. Club features brainy articles on pop culture ephemera. If you ever long to read a 3,000-word missive on a 20-year-old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation to get you through a boring afternoon at your desk, the A.V. Club is the place to go. (Right after the 3,000 word missives on football you find here, of course).

Noel Murray of the A.V. Club touched on the sad state of sports on television in a feature evocatively entitled, "Why Does Modern Sports Broadcasting Suck So Hard?" Murray raises some great points, noting that the networks may have tricked themselves into thinking that fans like jokey, hyperbolic coverage because of a quirk of the ratings calculations. Most people are more likely to watch Colts-Titans and DVR the Christmas episode of The Office than vice versa, so sports rating hold steady while all other ratings decline, creating a false impression that fans really love Joe Theismann and Matt Millen.

Televised football games are among the last of the truly "broad" broadcasts, reaching millions of people across wide demographics. Because the networks are trying to attract teenagers, casual fans, and little old ladies from Mississippi who tune in because they think Brett Favre is a handsome young fellow, I have stopped worrying about (or listening to) most announcers. Their coverage is like Ke$ha music: It isn't really targeted at me, and I am not supposed to like it, so I rarely bother criticizing it.

The NFL Network is different. By the time fans sit down in front of an NFLN game on Thursday night, they have identified themselves as willing purchasers of a premium sports cable package and as eager consumers of out-of-town football on an off-peak night when the major networks air some of their most appealing programming. In other words, the NFL Network viewer is more like you and I than, say, the Sunday Night NBC viewer. With all of the filtration that comes with a Thursday night game on a sports-tier network, NFLN should have looked through their roster of available on-air talent, grabbed guys like Mike Mayock, and created a narrowcast for hardcore sports fans. Instead, they assembled arguably the fluffiest booth trio possible. The Theismann-Millen team even defies Murray's point that on-air personalities are too busy promoting their own "brands" to analyze the games: Theismann and Millen don't sound like they are self-promoting the way Joe Buck does. They are simply yammering.

I am always searching for the small victory. Give me an insight-filled, narrow-casted Thursday Night game announced by hyper-informed extremists, and I will gladly cede all of Sunday and Monday night to forced laughter and banal remarks about the quarterback's leadership. All national sports broadcasting doesn't have to suck. A morsel of quality now and then would go along way.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 15 Dec 2010

70 comments, Last at 19 Dec 2010, 10:10pm by Jeff M.

Comments

1
by DGL :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:31pm

I would so buy Football Outsiders Almanac and Zombies.

18
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:44pm

And, once again, the Eagles would be ranked very high - because Andy Reid would eat the zombies before they ate the team.

2
by Joseph :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:34pm

I have to say AMEN!!! to those last two paragraphs. On most Sundays, I have to listen to Mexican announcers in a studio talk about the game on my screen. They only know the star players [for example, then misidentified Jennings on his long TD run as MJD until after the EXTRA POINT!!!], they repeat the same cliches, and they are consistently unaware of the timeouts left/challenge possibilities and other basic things.
Then, as Mexicans, they waaaayyy overhype Sanchez, and for some reason the Steelers, Cowboys, & Pats. The Pats I understand because of their recent success, and the Steelers have had some too. But yeah--no matter where you live, it's pretty ridiculous.
Having said this, here's a wild and crazy suggestion to the FO team. Why don't you guys, for one special game (say, maybe the 2nd game on Wild Card Sat. or something), get two or three of you together--designate one of you as the PBP guy--another as the analyst (prob. Aaron), and if Mike Tanier can be there, he MUST be 3rd guys in the booth--AKA the jokes guy. Here's the thing--almost NOBODY will listen if you do it as a podcast--you would have to do it as a live radio broadcast over the net. Don't know if it's legal, or what audio issues there would be, but that would be TOTALLY COOL. I would DEFINITELY mute the TV and listen in. Or maybe you could do a college bowl with Bill, Rob, and the gang (might be easier from a legal standpoint.) [Or maybe ESPN could let you guys be the radio team for a bowl game--that might be a LOT easier logistically, if you could get to Bristol or the game.]

13
by BigDerf :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:09pm

I definitely believe this is illegal to try to do. The whole "Any pictures descriptions or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent" thing.

17
by E :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:38pm

From what I've heard the only way to legally and effectively do this is to ask your "viewers" to DVR the game, then instruct them when to watch it (or make it available as a podcast) so that it is not technically live but it feels live to them.

24
by fyo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:00pm

This is why the Courts were wrong.

"Nobody could possibly believe that the strict wording of broadcasts and DVDs were the limit of consumers rights to the broadcast" (poor phrasing, I'm sorry, I'm too tired to put more of an effort into it).

The bottom line is that the NFL and broadcasters can go screw themselves. What they SAY or WRITE has only a tangential relationship to what your rights are. That is, they can GRANT rights, but they cannot take them away.

The NFL and other pro sports (notably Baseball) have long tried to copyright anything and everything related to "their product". Court cases always take forever, but the courts actually seem to come to the right (i.e. sensible) conclusions in the end.

If you stick to comments, there's no legal difference between posting them on a forum and streaming the spoken words on the web. The NFL cannot copyright facts (just ask MLB). Access to the event can carry certain restrictions, so if you are PRESENT at a game, you're in a completely different situation.

31
by Rich Arpin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:07pm

I would absolutely tune in. I check out professional Starcraft 2 players all the time and one of the best 'casters is Day9. He streams everynight on ustream games and commentary. You could start there. Heck, even having a webcam up would be great, though day9 preshow does a music with a background thing, which would be a voices only option.

Link in my name. Archives are an example of what he does.

Also, dare I mention, I watch games live over the net. As the wife takes the TV during the Monday Nighter for Gossip Girl.

33
by Jerry P. :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:13pm

If they did what you suggested it would expose that they are no better at real time analysis than the broadcasters they lambaste. With this weeks "Audibles at the Line" filled with complaints about too much complaining about broadcasters and not enough analysis is sort of proof of this. When reacting in real time they can make some insights, yes, but they simply aren't as good as when they have time to review the plays and think about them. Broadcasters don't have this luxury. This is further evidenced by the recurring observations readers on this site and FO staff have made about how Simms appears way more knowledgeable when on the radio during the week and on HBO(or some other channel?). Finally, you don't have time to seriously analyze plays the way the FO staff does a great job of doing in their articles because the game is progressing. You have time for one replay usually then you have to get back to the game. Someone mentioned StarCraft 2 gamecasting further down the thread. Notice how a lot of times when the person calling the match is doing so they are doing it by watching a replay of the match so they can pause it and talk at length regarding strategy. Again, not an option for broadcasters of live events.

Since I mentioned video games and it has come up a little here and there on this site let me use that as an example of why sports have such terrible cliched rambling filling the void where good analysis couldn't fit anyway.

It's called the casualisation of entertainment. Take games like Modern Warfare 2. They are terrible yet people eat them up. The games are designed to appeal to a mass of people that in reality are bad at video games. No MW2 player would stand a chance against the old school QuakeWorld deathmatchers playing railguns only. So every game now has a bunch of crap guns that you need to shoot the enemy a dozen times with while using a joystick to aim. Just terrible. Yet the masses of baddies love it. My brother and I yuck it up every time he puts a shotgun slug into a deer at 100 yards because in video games shotguns are effective to like 20 feet because if they made them like real life people would be besides themselves. Same thing for sniper rifles. I can run a bolt without having to stop looking down the sights, thanks. But I can't do that in video games cause the casuals would suffer greatly.

World of Warcraft is the same. Old school Ultima Online and Everquest players laugh at WoW as it is a game of baddies keyboard turning and clicking their abilities. Yet the game is a juggernaut. I'm trying to get my mom to play it so she can be a night elf hunter and ride a cat around and have a cat pet and a cat vanity pet so she'll stop taking in real cats and causing my dad angst. It's so casual she could actually be "good" at it.

Magic: The Gathering trading card game is the same as well. Wizards of the Coast was quite successful over the last 5-6 years in getting a lot of new players into the game playing the tournament format that allows only the 2 most recent years of cards printed to be played. This, besides encouraging sales of packs of the latest set, also allows them to create a carefully constructed meta-game because of a very limited card pool. There are very few viable strategies and you face the same 4-5 decks over and over and over. And the kids love it cause it's easy and they gravitate to the deck that is easiest to "autopilot". But now that they have several years of cards that have rotated out of that format they want to play an eternal format where cards going back to the games inception in 1993 are all legal. 1500 card pool vs. 15000 card pool. Only the best cards are played. Cards printed 15 years ago that the old school players just dealt with cause that's all they had cannot be reprinted today because they'd be legal in the standard format and the kiddies would scream bloody murder over how "overpowered" they are. Well now that all these newer players are invading the eternal ranks they cry incessantly about old cards as being too strong and now cards are getting banned that shouldn't be. All because of a bunch of casuals.

This is all no different than anything else. Blogs? You mean .plan files that video game developers were doing 15 years ago? Forums to have flame wars in? You mean the BBSs from the 70's/80's? MP3's? Those are from the 80's dude, where have you been? You just didn't know about this stuff because you are a casual. I still laugh that the RIAA/MPAA is just now catching on to Usenet as a vector of piracy. I guess someone made a newsreader that even casuals could install and configure. Same for IRC.

Here's why you won't get your hardcore commentary. They make a bajillion more dollars selling garbage to casuals! Wizards of the Coast doesn't make money off me for Magic because I am playing with my cards I acquired when I was a kid in 1995. I don't buy packs. So they don't care if they shit all over my eternal format because us eternal players don't buy cards on the primary market. Want some first person shooter fun-time? Get your War§ow on dudes. Game uses the Quake3 engine and was designed from the ground up as a hardcore deathmatcher's dream. Good luck finding servers. Or you can join the army of clowns playing Modern Warfare spamming RPG's, helicopter strikes, and claymores.

Face it Mike, you're hardcore and hardcore is not the target audience for much of anything these days. Now if I sound resentful about all this it's because I am a little. But you know what? Sex Pistols never won anything. Just accept the fact that you lost your innocence when you realized that field position is dynamic. You got your football cherry busted at FO.com and you aren't going to become a born again virgin without a lobotomy. You are hardcore. Lord your knowledge over the plebs who only care about fantasy football and accept the fact that the only recognition you will ever get is in the eye of your fellow hardcores. Besides, you don't need hardcore commentary, that's what you are in the business of providing. You don't need no instructions to know how to rock and since I've been reading this site since 2003 I don't either.

This concludes my article. A lot of stuff I wanted to say in the Audibles threads and some other threads but were to flame laden so I didn't bother. To be clear, my criticism of FO writers doing a live broadcast is to point out the difficulty in doing it and is not meant to imply their work is bad. It's awesome. I know my examples of casualisation won't make sense to those who don't play video games and I know the Magic example is even more obscure (one of you dorks will get it though, don't lie) but I wanted to provide examples instead of being all "kids these days".

Thoughts? Feeling? TL:DRs? Have at it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-mPnmfrm6I

35
by KG (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:21am

Any comment on a football article on a football website that can argue a football-related point by invoking the death knell of FPS (this current console generation) and the devolution of Magic: the Gathering makes me giddy.

CAPTCHA: Psychiatry. Amusing.

52
by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 2:27pm

I'm not a gamer, but I will admit to playing Magic: The Gathering for a few years in my middle school days. I'm about to graduate from a university with a degree in Political Science and International Studies. I have been reading the book and living on the website since 2003. I love football, but usually can't stand watching it on TV, mainly because I have a horribly short attention span (yes, even shorter than normal; I do take meds for it). I will also admit that bad commentary during football games has lead to me not wanting to watch games even when I literally have nothing to do. Which isn't often when you're trying to graduate, have to still work 40 hours a week, and your ADHD rules your mind like Otto von Bismarck kept the Triple Alliance together (sorry, it is exam time after all, trying to finish my history minor as well).

Saying all that, I totally and completely agree with you. I absolutely love the analysis on this site, and the depth that the writers take to actually show things that most people don't care about. In fact, I have used arguments used in a few of the books, like the destruction of "you run to win the game," in Political Science papers, and to understand concepts in the development of political research. I absolutely love how I can relate the two together, and make it work.

I would love to take the idea of DVRing the game, and then having a radio station to tune into a day later to watch the game with commentary. This would provide our guys to come up with more in depth analysis, but if they stopped the game to show a replay a few times, we'd be screwed, because you can't really tell us where to stop the game, where to rewind to, and where to draw our yellow lines that Fox announcers are in love with like Philadelphia fans that the time honored phrase "Booooooo!" (No insult really meant to the Philadelphia sports market, as I am envious of their devotion to their sports team, and would love my market to have just a shred of their fanaticism).

Just thought that your argument using casualisation isn't wasted on some of us, and that I do like it. Actually helping me right now get through my only Political Science class left. I normally hate it when people try to show fallacies with the FO staff, or angrily point out something wrong in their work, since they are obviously treading water that really hasn’t been swam in ever (at least in the realm of football). I do like your presentation of how the idea of spoiling ourselves by using the FO staff to do commentary is absurd, and even though it is completely in a rant, I think that was the best way of presenting your point. Bravo sir.

53
by jebmak :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 2:58pm

That might be the longest post that I have ever read in it's entirety.

For the most part, I am with you, but I did have one point on the live cast.

The SC2 casters HD and Husky don't pause it, and claim to be seeing it for the first time. I think that they, who do it essentially live, do a fine job.
I think that Day9 pauses things to go into more detail since he is more pro oriented.

Of course, if I was pro, I might hate HD and Husky. But as a bottom feeding diamond player, I enjoy them.

37
by Sergio :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 3:24am

I live in Mexico too.

The last football commenter worth a damn died in 2007 (RIP, Pepe Espinoza), and they're so fucking bad at his last stop (Fox Sports) after he left that they brougth back one of the oldies (von Rossum, who admittedly is the grandfather for football commentary in Mexico but was retired for over 20 years before his comeback - and it shows). At TV Azteca, a single decent commentator in Joaquin Castillo is overshadowed by the absolute worthless piece of crap that is Enrique Garay (basically a hype machine for whatever was shiny three weeks ago, plus Mark Sanchez), and Televisa has the least-bad team, filled with professionals that don't specialize in football (and thus, lack knowledge to make in-depth observations other than the "look at this play here with our MEGA AWEZOME OMGZ tech that highlights a player! Only available here" schtick).

So I renounced it, as soon as Sunday Ticket was available in Mexico. And I learned that the same illnesses that affect us are pervasive in the US. Namely, trying to attract more people, cash in on its popularity (running every possible ad under the sun) and putting amateurs in broadcasting, football, or both, in charge of communicating the game to others. Of course, since mexicans often don't have football ingrained since childhood, commentary tends to degrade to "that's right people, the ball has to ENTER the endzone to be considered a touchdown, which is 6 points scored" (which is not only factually wrong, but stupid enough I mute these guys as a rule of thumb).

I've found the most enjoyment from muting the announcers (US or Mexico, I don't care) and listen to the Miami broadcast with NFL's Audiopass. They may be blind homers, but at least I know they do so for *my* team. And they bring about as much insight as anyone else. A side of comments from KSK, twitter or FO's IRC channel rounds it up pretty well (though I haven't visited the last one in over a year).

tl;dr: announcer suck in Mexico, US and everywhere.

-- Go Phins!

38
by Pat Swinnegan :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 4:16am

I have to ask: What did the announcers in Mexico make of the emergence of Chad "Ochocinco"?

51
by Sergio :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 1:52pm

About a week of jokes on how Chad doesn't really speak spanish, but it's the thought that counts so he's cool with them. Also, it gets mentioned again whenever the Bengals are broadcasted, which is basically... never.

Mexico officially recognizes the Cowboys, 49ers, Raiders, Steelers, Dolphins, Patriots and Jets (the whole Mark Sanchez thing) as actual NFL teams. Everyone else? Tough job getting a game on the air, unless you're playing one of the golden seven.

Which makes me SO glad I became a Dolphins fan. I went that way because I liked the colors on Tecmo Super Bowl. It was a tossup between them and the Seahawks. Talk about close calls.

-- Go Phins!

54
by Dean :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 3:29pm

Although being that he's from Miami, I would think he would speak at least some Spanish. Even 20 years ago it was almost impossible to function down there without being at least semi-bilingual.

57
by BigCheese :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 7:39pm

If you're watching the local ESPN broadcast (and they ahven't bumped the game to ESPN 2 for some tnnis or soccer match), you can use the SAP or language function to get the Micheals / Collinsworth feed mostly inteact.

Because no one should have to suffer through a game where Raul Allegre is the color comentator (sadly, I have, more than once).

- Alvaro

3
by Spielman :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:42pm

"Unfortunately, Tom Coughlin would probably order all the children to sit in silence on the bus, then make them spend the sunny afternoon doing military chin-ups and memorizing the Baltimore catechism."

Still worth it if we get a shot of that "I am surrounded by incompetent fools" face he makes after every bad Giants play.

40
by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 10:54am

I like that. I always called it the "I should've used Preparation H" face.

4
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:51pm

In Zombie football would LeRon McClain be a retcher?

5
by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:53pm

How do I preorder the book?

42
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:29am

Which? The Phanatic Code or the Zombie book?

Rest assured that I won't hide preorder information once I know something!

47
by Dean :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:37am

I actually meant The Phanatic Code. I'm not nearly as enthralled with Zombies as the latest flavor of the month as everyone else seems to be. Then again, I didn't suddenly start blasting Don't Stop Believin' at every social gathering as soon as it showed up on the final episode of The Sopranos, either.

But as soon as The Phanatic Code can be pre-ordered, I assure you I'll be one of the first in line. I suspect I'll have plenty of compeition from the rest of the folks around here.

55
by TomKelso :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 6:14pm

I was hoping it would be The Girl who.... It's a pity that Stieg Hammarskjold perished in that suspicious plane crash on his way to Seattle to investigate the Seahawks mystery, but I hear his sequels -- The Girl Who Broke Roethlsiberger's Nose in a Bar and The Girl who Gave Pittsburgh a Phantom Touchdown have been discovered, and are riveting.

Of course, now that Tanier has publicly disparaged Mara Rooney's physique, he might be sent off to that mythical Seattle place himself; or worse, assigned to cover Julian Assange. Do NOT mess with Park Avenue!

56
by AudacityOfHoops :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 6:34pm

Pretty sure he was disparaging Noomi Rapace's physique, not Rooney Mara's.

63
by SMK (not verified) :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 12:13pm

I think Mike's actually referring to the book itself, which devotes some pages to her self-assessment of her breasts as too small. While on her MacBook and drinking coffee. Waiting for the guy to finish making sandwiches so she can sleep with him.

68
by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 2:39pm

Ooh, I hate when I'm That Guy - the one who corrects somebody else, but ends up being incorrect himself.

Sorry about that.

6
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:55pm

The Seattle Seahawks do not exist and have never existed. They are a myth, cobbled together from oral traditions, Bigfoot sightings, and Nazca lines.

25
by jayinalaska :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:17pm

C'mon, you know that's not true. You don't have to look any farther than the main intake pipe of the closest Solid Waste Treatment facility to find evidence of the existence of the Seahawks.

36
by TNT :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 2:34am

No, its true. The Seahawks are an elaborate hoax created by Paul Allen. Every Sunday, fans flock to Qwest to yell loudly at the visiting team as they run plays against cardboard cutouts. The only actual Seahawk is Matt Hasselbeck, a drama major from Boston College, hired to give post game interviews. Amazingly the NFC west has been so bad that the "experiment" has won the division multiple times.

7
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:56pm

Wonderful write up Tanier, hope the book does well.

8
by AudacityOfHoops :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:13pm

Tanier, the description of your book is making me think "sports equivalent of Songbook by Nick Hornby." Is that far off?

43
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:31am

I sometimes describe it as a mash-up of a bunch of Jayson Stark columns and Pilgrim's Progress.

9
by Bobman :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:45pm

Millhouse Van Houten, report to the principal's office. And bring your big juicy chess club brain with you....

I've pre-ordered two of the Zombie book already; one for me, one for my oldest son's zombie football coach.

Backboards shatter?!?! Oh, I loved the Dr J/Moses Malone Sixers. I kept the faith until they traded Barkley, then gave up on the NBA.....

10
by zenbitz :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:53pm

Does Zombie Hole-In-Zone defend better, worse or the same as regular human Hole-In-Zone??

19
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:45pm

Much better - they gobble up WRs.

23
by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:55pm

Now Robo-Punter©, on the other hand, could punt the ball through any zombies. And because he's made from an advanced cybernetic alloy, the zombies wouldn't be compelled to eat him.

Even outside the allegory, The Man can't keep Robo-Punter© down!

11
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:56pm

I can understand leaving out college basketball players, but if there's a chapter on coaches, please tell me you're including John Chaney.

27
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:28pm

If Tanier leavves out Chaney, Chaney might gunt him down and choke him or sic goon after him,. So Tanier- mgiht be goood ide afor you include J. Chaney (Temple Iwls coahc) in book

30
by Harris :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 8:23pm

I want a chapter on Rich Kotite and it should be 15 pages of burning houses.

Hail Hydra!

32
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:36pm

Tanier's Kotite notes got some water on thgem so hhd dditn know what to do.

So no zkotite chapter

Maybe whehn he do New York book he tyr again

44
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:33am

Exactly right, Raiderjoe. I could not read the chart on Kotite and did not know what to do.

No Jon Cheyney. If he sends Marc Macon to throttle me, I will hide behind Doug Overton and hope Speedy Morris scares him away by doing a strip-tease.

64
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 12:20pm

Maybe Chaney makes the cut for The Phanatic Code and Zombies?

12
by BigDerf :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:07pm

I believe one of those anonymous falcons players was Roddy White. I only know this because him and Arian Foster have carried me to the playoffs in two leagues this year.

14
by Will S :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:28pm

Excellent work as always. As a Giants fan, it's nice to see them shown some love (or at least attention). National media hasn't done a great job of that this year.
Question about the Jaguars diagram: Are some of those numbers mislabeled or are their option plays just that effective at creating confusion?

20
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:47pm

Yeah, the national media almost never talks about New York teams.

15
by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:30pm

Good read. I especially liked the part at the end discussing self-promotion. Self-deprecation always scores as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not buying the book unless it has a chapter on Fred Mitchell. Or Tommy Conwell's brother.

16
by horn :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:34pm

I just hope the other boxer isn't Rocky Balboa.

45
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:34am

Nope.

50
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 1:32pm

If it's Joe Frazier, I hope you discuss his singing career. THAT would be an entertaining read.

58
by phillyangst :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:10pm

I hope the other boxer is Maxwell Antonio Leach. That's a "Philadelphia Story".

I'm looking forward to the book and I'll be going straight to the INDEX to look for:

DOOM, Legion of
HAYES, Von
MIANO, Rich
RAUTINS, Leo

By the way, I'm watching Niners-Chargers. Muting.

"DVOA loves Philadelphia!"

60
by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:18am

It is not Leach. We are missing someone obvious besides Smokin Joe.

They haven't asked for an index, but I could provide one that includes things like:

WEBER, Chris: rubbing jock in Bradley's face after dunk 171
CLINTON, Bill and Hillary: Randall Cunningham comparing himself and wife to, 94
SCHILLING, Curt: Called a horse's a**: 34, 56, 79-84, 106, 273

61
by Travis :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 11:45am

Bernard Hopkins?

62
by phillyangst :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 11:57am

I believe that boxer has a bout tomorrow and could possibly make (dubious) history if he wins.

Is The Executioner on the list of "throwing under the bus" comments in the McNabb chapter?

"DVOA loves Philadelphia!"

21
by drobviousso :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:50pm

The AV Club link is good. I just started following games on twitter while watching them. I follow most FO guys, a handful of team specific bloggers, 1 mainstream reporter, and a few players. The players don't tweet during the game, but the bloggers and FO writers provide good cometary while the games are on.

22
by NHPatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:51pm

Actually, an analysis of the most zombie football teams - utter lifeless suckitude, quit on the coach, etc - of the DVOA era would be great! You can get Jim Mora Sr to write the intro...

Your audience would be schadenfreude-loving Pats / Eagles / etc fans and f*ck-me-harder victims of the teams written up.

I'd buy it.

26
by TomC :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:04pm

NBC deserves credit for making the Sunday Night telecast as focused on the game as they do, especially considering that they have the second most captive audience of the week. I think most of the FO contributors & posters agree that Michaels and Collinsworth are intelligent and provide actual insight into the game (though they are both pompous and hard to take sometimes). And this may sound silly, but the thing that really sets SNF apart is that they only ever go to Kremer on the sidelines when there's something real to report (like an injury update), and most of the time they just have her on audio.

All of this, of course, makes NFLN's decision more unforgiveable.

29
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 8:04pm

Actually, I believe the Sunday night game typically gets about 10 million more viewers than the Monday night game, so it's the MOST captive audience of the week, not second-most.

48
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:43am

Yeah, the irony of it all is that the SNF team is really one of the best sets of broadcasters out there, and it's available to pretty much everyone. NFLN, which should be for the hardcore geeks, is godawful, but your major network broadcast has Michaels and Collinsworth, who do a really good job. Throw in a studio show that contains actual analysis and a lack of fake laughter, and the SNF broadcast tends to hit it out of the park pretty regularly.

65
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 12:22pm

They also let you pick your own video feed and watch it online. The cable-cam is nauseating, but great if you want to be aware of the fact that there are safeties on the field.

28
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 7:28pm
34
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:44pm

"A shot of Matt Ryan, a shot of an anonymous Falcons player, then Mike Smith" -M. Tanier

R. White is annomnyous?

39
by mathesond :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 8:45am

Who?

41
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:05am

Roddy white. Good wr on Glacs. Among league leader in various trcrption stats. If havr on fanyssy team your tram probably. doinh ok

70
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Sun, 12/19/2010 - 10:10pm

Interestingly, "Glacs trcrption" is an anagram for "rant script clog"

A more apt description for Raiderjoe I have never seen.

46
by GrammarMadoff (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:36am

Please, please split the penultimate word from "along" to "a long". You write so damn well, it shouldn't have to permanently end with a random typo.

49
by Spielman :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:26pm

Since this post followed one by Raiderjoe, at first I thought you were responding to that gentleman.

And my mind... it was boggled.

59
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 5:50am

Momentarily I thought the grammar-gentleman was having a go at RJ for splitting his infinitives ...

66
by Hurt Bones :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 12:54pm

With a log in like that, he definitely ought to avoid hanging participles.

67
by phillyangst :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:09pm

Eagles Option.

Wouldn't that play work well for Reid/Morninweg with Shady's elusiveness, Peters and Herremanns dominance on the left side and the officials disregard for the health of Vick?

Throw in a pass option on top of that and Goodell then can justify "The Melanin Hypocrisy" for defenders teeing off on Ron Mexico.

"DVOA loves Philadelphia!"

69
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 5:08pm

"Leaving out college basketball stars was difficult, but once you start listing Big Five legends, you open a whole new jar of Cheese Whiz."

well--that can be your sequel once this book becomes a best-seller. My God, you got Tom Gola, Bob Mlkvy ("The Owl without a vowel"), Corky Calhoun, Kenny Durrett, Howard Porter--and a cast of thousands