Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Jan 2006

TMQ: Let 'Em All In

This week Gregg Easterbrook has some thoughts on the Hall of Fame, discusses the NFL coaching carousel, and wonders why, "Jenna Elfman, who's tremendously good-looking, is nevertheless not pleasant to look at?" Easterbrook also provides an NFL team glossary, TMQ style.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 31 Jan 2006

54 comments, Last at 01 Feb 2006, 2:37pm by Starshatterer


by Jake Brake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 5:44pm

Was there actually any football content in this article?

It's a little hard to believe that Gregg couldn't have taken a look at the various matchups between Pittsburgh and Seattle, particularly since he loves to harp on overuse of the blitz (which the Steelers use more frequently than any other NFL team.)

Instead, we get treated to some high-school speculation about the mysteries of interstellar space, and some TV reviews. Thanks, Gregg! Keep this up and you might become the next Peter King.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 5:46pm

"Let 'em all in" only changes where the argument about the cutoff point is, not eliminates it. And what happened to asking for more linemen in the HOF, which TMQ usually does around this time of year? Wouldn't letting every candidate in result in a larger gap?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 5:55pm

I think the answer to TMQ's question is Jenna Elfman is not, in fact, terribly good looking.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 5:56pm

For TMQ to become MMQ does he have to post scantily clad pictures of his daughters?

by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:10pm

I thought "Let 'Em All In" was a very compelling arguement, actually. The entire article was pretty amusing.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:14pm

I have no doubt that too few players have been inducted into the HOF, and too few are now being inducted annually.

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:21pm

See link.

As a major Broncos fan, I am afraid. Very afraid. This would be like calling all in on 7-2 off suit. Might work, but then again...

by Zach (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:22pm

I agree with TMQ about the NFL Hall of Fame: Considering how many players are currently in the NFL, it seems crazy that the HoF is inducting about as many players per year as baseball or basketball (each with far fewer players). Plus, as he pointed out, it's very difficult to say which lineman was superior to another (or even which QB/RB/WR, even though there are more statistics for those positions).

by Kris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:26pm

I feel the same way too. TMQ made some very good points, but letting them all in is not my cup of tea. Just find a better way in getting the max allowable in each year.

by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:33pm

IMODO, too few is better than letting in the likes of Phil Rizzuto, which is what the "let 'em all in" philosophy risks.

by Kris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:40pm

Another point.
When it comes to lineman, you have little or no stats. All you can do is to watch what they did during the time they played. Other position players (QB/WR/RB) that garner stats are easier to distinguish who should get into the hall or not.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:45pm

If the NFL cares so much about only the creme de la creme being let in, why not just hire some quality assurance coaches or wannabe quality assurance coaches to go through a good sample of a few candidates' tape with a somewhat flexible rubric. Each player could get that treatment from, say, 3 reviewers, you average the scores, and send it to the electors to chew on. Hopefully that would solve the Phil Rizzuto nightmare.

In either case, the max number has to go up.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:48pm

To compare linemen, I think the only thing you can do if you didn't actually live in that era is compare the number of All Pro & Pro Bowl seasons. It does seem like too few people are inducted, and if they did induct more, perhaps guys like Bob Kuechenberg and Rayfield Wright would have already been in and not going up against Thurman Thomas.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 6:53pm


You must be joking.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:05pm

Okay, that's not a New York Times article, it's a New York Times op-ed. By a district attorney. Who takes a set of incomplete data and starts inventing riffs on it to come up with this precise-sounding but, in fact, completely invented error rate of .027 percent, which GE then cites as some kind of meaningful number.

However, I am a tall flaming liberal, so I'll thank him for the knee defender link.

by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:05pm

Is there a good reason the number has to go up? No matter the limit, you'll still have borderline players, some of whom will make it, some of whom won't. To draw another baseball analogy, its like the ever-expanding all-star rosters, and the constant crying about players who "deserved" to make it that were left off (when MLB rosters are 25-man, and 30 players make the all-star squad, how does someone left off "deserve" a spot?).

By inducting fewer, we just make the honor greater. If there's a real issue of disproportionality by position (as opposed to an argument that a certain position just doesn't matter as much, and should thus be underrepresented), the remedy isn't obviously to increase volume - if we doubled the number of entrants, there's no guarantee we'd change the QB:OL ratio one iota.

by Scott (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:11pm

While I don't quite agree with "Let 'em all in", I do think the HOF could allow more in. The best solution I could think of would be to only require around 50% approval of selectors and have the choose from a much larger list, say 30. Heck, just glancing through this year's preliminary list I saw 35 people I thought were worthy, and I'm sure there's others on there I just don't know enough about.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:21pm

Claim to fame moment: I came up with the Kansas City Flintstones cognomen. But although Gregg credited me in his TMQ article at the time, he declined to publish my haiku (which is probably just as well, come to think of it).

My favorite remains the Flaming Thumbtacks. Question for any Titans fans, has the fanbase in general heard of this? My impression is that a lot of NE fans who have never heard of TMQ have heard of The Flying Elvii.

Also, I agree that many more should be in Canton. Since it takes 22 guys on each side to play a game of pro football (24 if you count PK's & P's separately) and it takes 9 to play pro baseball (9.5 if you count the DH for half the leagues). Thus for every Cooperstown inductee there should be somewhere between 2.32 and 2.67 Canton inductees (factoring in how many total years of each sport the respective halls officially cover). Never happen tho'.

by Scott (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:22pm

#16: I just think the bar is set too high right now. This and the way people are selected allow for personal bias to directly effect who get's in and who doesn't. With more inclusion, the honor may not be quite as great, but almost everyone who is deserving will be inducted.

There will still be arguments, but they won't be very good. The best analogy I could use is college football. I thought it was wrong to leave Auburn out of the championship game last year. They had a good argument and could have beat either of the two teams higher in the BCS. If there was a playoff system, there would still be an argument between who's ranked 8 or 9 or whatever and gets in, but at that point, you can't say much if you don't get in because you lost 2-3 games. All of the truly worth teams would get in.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:24pm

Any number of course is an arbitrary dividing point ... it really just turns on some indefinable sense among people who follow these things about what's too tight and what's too loose. I'd say football is pretty close to getting it right, while baseball is generally ridiculously exclusionary. (Rizzuto notwithstanding)

I figure it this way: if there are about five people not selected by the veterans' committee in a typical year, and a typical Hall of Famer has a career averaging maybe 12 years or so, then at any given time, there are about 60 Hall of Famers in the game, or about two per team (many of which are just starting off their careers, of course, and thus at the moment we're looking are just promising youngsters or two-time All Pros or something less exalted than Cantonesque), or about 4% of the weekly active roster.

Of course, the distribution at the moment might be, none for the Texans and 4 for the Patriots (genuflect) or something, but that's the idea.

Does that sound about right? Does that sound high or low?

I've got no particular dog in the fight. But it seems like an interesting exercise, instead of debating players retrospectively when we perceive them through the gauze of the myth that's grown up around them, the years of forgetfulness in between, and try to compare and contrast between positions and eras, just to skip through the players before us and think of the 60 or so who we might expect to be Hall of Famers, and see if that sounds to us like we're manifestly leaving off people who strike us as HOF-quality.

by adwred (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:25pm

I am an advocate of increasing the number of hall of fame players in all sports. The watering down effect is ridiculous -- people go to the Hall of Fame to see and hear about the great players of the past, and its nice to see great players celebrated, and see players from the era closest to you or the team you love the most. Let them all in, I say.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:26pm

20: apologies for the overuse of the editorial "we". blech.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:36pm

Re: Tampa Bay / City of Tampa

I notice all the major sports teams in that region are called Tampa Bay and not just Tampa. I'm not that familiar with that part of Florida, and while I'm sure the team doesn't represent the water, is Tampa Bay possibly a more representative description of a larger area along the bay than just the City of Tampa?

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 7:52pm

I take the opposite view on HOF inductions. I like that it is very elite. Too many HOFs (especially baseball) get bogged down with medioctrity. The rigidity that the football HOF uses keeps it very credible.

Also, I give Jenna Elfman a "6" She's only on show's because she's Danny Elfman's daughter.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:00pm

At least in baseball, when it comes to starting pitchers and hitters (relief pitchers are another matter, in that they aren't being fairly evaluated by HOF voters), there is a pretty good body of empirical data with which to wear down the stubborness of voters who are reluctant to put a great player in. In football, many lineman just don't have a chance, absent an immediate groundswell of support.

I would like to know how many men had NFL careers lasting five years or more through 2000, and ten years or more through 2000, so I can get a feel for what percentage of players with careers of any length have been inducted.

Just off the top of my head, I would think that at least 2% of the players who played at least five years should be in, and no fewer than 7% or 8% of the players who made it at least ten years should be in, kickers and punters excepted. Perhaps this feeling would change once I had the numbers, but that is just a gut feeling at this time.

by Clod (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:19pm

Matchups?? Re: #1, how long have you read TMQ, when has he ever posted anything about matchups?

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:19pm

The let-em-all-in philosophy might be pushing it, but I am surprised that the maximum of seven hasn't been a more binding constraint. I could certainly find seven worthy candidates each year.

I am also intrigued by his speculation that the numbers are small because of media infighting. I've read a couple of articles by Peter King where he has tried to explain why he doesn't vote Art Monk in. All I need to know is that Monk was a starter, and consistent producer, for over a decade on a team that was a consistent Superbowl contender. I'm pretty sure he (and others) don't get in because they weren't very media-friendly during their careers, and have been out of the spotlight since retiring.

by Jordy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:28pm

I'm on board with 3's answer - JElfman isn't terribly good looking. But that doesn't change that the Oscar snub for "Krippendorf's Tribe" was obviously fueled by bias against scientology. It's the only explanation.

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:42pm

RE: #28

All of those problems would have been resolved had Tom Cruise, John Travolta and R. Kelly come out of the closet.

RE: #7

Has nobody got anything to say about this? For crying out loud, people.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:44pm

What is there to say about T.O. that hasn't been said?

by Jake Brake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:49pm

#26, I was just hoping.

I've read TMQ in all his repetitive glory for a few years now. Just another junkie looking for the cherry high I know I'll never get again. < /Skin Deep quote >

by David A. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 8:52pm

24 - Um. No.


Her husband is Danny Elfman's nephew, apparently. Say what you want about her, but she did a hell of a job in "Keeping The Faith", and her cameo was better than Jerry O'Connell's in "Can't Hardly Wait".

by Luke (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:06pm

Flaming Thumbtacks, Flying Elvii, Ming Ding Xiong and Les Mouflons are classics.
I also like TriHypoCycloids (or THC). What is the significance of this emblem by the way? What does it have to do with steel? Why is it only on one side of the helmet? Is it over the players left ear or right?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:07pm

Bjorn, Owens will get a clause-ridden contract without a lot of guaranteed money. If he temporarily modifies his behavior the Broncos may get some significant production from him. Eventually, he'll be T.O., and get fired, without hurting the Broncos much capwise, while tossing away yet more of his potential earnings.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:13pm

Say what you will about Jenna Elfman, she ain't in Heather Graham's league looks-wise & yet her show will almost certainly NOT be canceled after only one episode (as Graham's so ignobly was).

by Richard (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:21pm

#16Someone deserving can be left out of the all-star game by putting someone less deserving in ahead of them. This most commonly occurs due to ignorant fan voting, though that isn't the lone cause.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:50pm

Mshray (#18 )--

Regarding the "Flying Elvis" cognomen, people in the Patriots organization were using that name for their new logo.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:51pm

#33: It's an industry logo for steel products. I think it was created back when there weren't many regulations and there was "fake" steel on the market.

The three stars stand for the materials that go into the creation of steel. Two are iron and sulphur. I believe the last is magnesium, but I don't remember.

by MdM (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:53pm

ay, ay, ay. There is something disturbing about Jenna Elfman's face, although to my rational analysis it is very fine. I don't like looking at it either.

If you only let 4 guys in the HOF, that means that only 4 of all the drafted and undrafted players each year could make it, proportionally. So that's like 1%, right?

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 9:54pm

I dunno. Maybe it is just because my team seems to want TO that I am getting all scared.

by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 10:16pm

Re: #1

Easterbrook has correctly pointed out numerous times that the Steelers don't blitz much. In their style of 3-4, a linebacker or DB rushes the QB on every play, which idiot newscasters identify as a blitz. A blitz is when more than the standard four rushes go after the QB, and the Steelers are in the bottom half of the league in their frequency of doing that.

TMQ's big schtick is the stupidity of rushing more than five on a play, and the Steelers almost never do that -- once or twice a game at the most, usually not even that much.

Actually, in terms of both offensive and defensive philosophy, the Steelers play football closer to the TMQ model than any team in the league, and you can expect him to point that out repeatedly should they win the Super Bowl.

by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 11:02pm

Re: The Steelers Logo, from the official history:

The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark logo belonging to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Created by U.S. Steel Corp. (now known as USX Corp.), the logo contains three hypocycloids (diamond shapes)...

When the Steelmark logo was created, U.S. Steel attached the following meaning to it: Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure and widens your world. The logo was used as part of a major marketing campaign to educate consumers about how important steel is in our daily lives...

During the 1970s, the logo's meaning was extended to include the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal, orange for ore and blue for steel scrap...

The Steelers are the only NFL team that sports their logo on only one side of the helmet. At first, this was a temporary measure because the Steelers weren't sure they would like the look of the logo on an all-gold helmet. They wanted to test them before going all-out...

Because of the interest generated by having the logo on only one side of their helmets and because of their team's new success, the Steelers decided to leave it that way permanently.

It's on the right side, by the way.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 11:05pm

Interesting. Thanks for the info, DGL.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Tue, 01/31/2006 - 11:27pm

He says that Jupitor is 11 times the size of earth, while this is true for total area, the more important figure is its mass. Jupitor has 317 times the mass of earth, which means its pretty friggin heavy?

by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 5:26am

Re: #44

not sure what you mean by "total area." jupiter has a diameter ~11 times that of earth, but in terms of "size" that actually means it has 1300 times the volume (and 120 times the surface area, which is probably not all that relevant but more relevant than diameter). but yes, mass is way more important.

by Guy Poland (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 8:19am

Totally off topic but still interesting/funny facts about TMQ being wrong on the "only human have more sexual intercourse than necessary for reproduction". Click my name:

by Guy Poland (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 8:20am

P.S.: Scroll down to "social behaviour"!

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 11:38am

All I need to know is that Monk was a starter, and consistent producer, for over a decade on a team that was a consistent Superbowl contender.

I disagree. That's the argument that gave us the Friends of Frankie Frisch, and the argument that the entire Big Red Machine should be in, including the bat boy.

And Jenna Elfman is a 9.5. I'm sticking to that.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 11:46am

I like the talk about humans having a lot of intercourse, but don't necessarily agree that there is no evolutionary reason for humans to get so much pleasure out of it.

TMQ ignores the fact that human beings, as the only current species that can ignore its instincts should it so desire, are the only creatures that, were sex not fun and/or pleasureable, could say "Well forget it! I'm not having any sex." And then there wouldn't be any more humans.

If we look around the animal kingdom, there are many creatures for which sex/reproduction is hazardous, creatures for which sex (particularly for the male) can be deadly. But they do it anyway. Why? Because they have built-in instincts that they have no choice but to follow.

Humans do have a built-in sexual instinct, but if sex was painful or just not very interesting, we, unlike every other animal, would have chosen not to have it and died out millenia ago. Thus only those humans that [i]enjoyed[/i] having sex, and took pleasure from it, did so, and that was passed onward.

I'm not saying there [i]isn't[/i] a divine explanation, but to say there's no evolutionary reason is incorrect IMO.


by EJP (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 12:28pm

Re: 46. Slutty monkeys? Now I've seen everything.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 12:57pm

It's also weird to toss out sex as evidence for divine intervention given how much effort Judaism/Christianity/Islam have devoted to telling us sexual pleasure is a bad thing.

by GMR (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 1:10pm

He forgot the Lucky Charms in his glossary.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 1:35pm

Are the rest of the Outsiders reading this thread? This is awesome. Bonobos, who knew?

I can add that both dolphins and wolves engage in recreational sex (i.e. outside of the female's estrus). Dolphins are far more promiscuous than humans, some individuals have been recorded copulating over ten times in a day with multiple partners. On other hand wolves are entirely monogamous, they mate for life and will remain celebate after their partner dies.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 02/01/2006 - 2:37pm

Mshray (#53 )--
Dolphins are far more promiscuous than humans, some individuals have been recorded copulating over ten times in a day with multiple partners.
Ten times, with multiple partners, is far more? Obviously, you didn't go to the right college.;-)