comments by Aaron Schatz
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who voted on the awards this season. The second half of this year's Football Outsiders awards are found below. Click here to read the first half of the awards, with the best and worst players, coaches, and executives of 2006.
We always had a random personnel question in the awards. This year we had a random personnel question and a random nickname question.
What is the best nickname for LaDainian Tomlinson?
9.8% Reverend Shaw Moore
The Football Outsiders readers have spoken: He's LdT. Good luck to me when it comes to actually remembering to call him that. Reverend Shaw Moore was the character in Footloose who felt that dancing was evil.
Who should be the number one pick in the 2007 draft?
|37.1% JaMarcus Russell
24.2% Joe Thomas
17.9% Calvin Johnson
13.5% Brady Quinn
7.3% Adrian Peterson
The Raiders need everything.
Who is the best national football columnist, not counting Football Outsiders writers on FOXSports.com? (two votes per ballot) (Last year's winner: Dr. Z)
|28.6% Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z), SI.com
14.7% Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com
11.1% John Clayton, ESPN.com
9.5% Gregg Easterbook (TMQ), ESPN.com
7.9% Peter King, SI.com
6.1% Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com
|3.7% Jay Glazer, FOXSports.com
3.6% K.C. Joyner, ESPN.com (subscription)
3.6% Scouts Inc., ESPN.com (subscription)
2.4% Michael "not David" Smith, ESPN.com
2.3% Vic Carucci, NFL.com
6.7% (seven other candidates)
Apparently, this was the year of the Z. Last year, three different writers got at least 15 percent of the vote: Zimmerman, Pasquarelli, and Easterbrook. This year, Dr. Z ended up way ahead of everyone else. Gregg Easterbrook falls into fourth place. ESPN really dominates the voting with three of the top four and seven of the top ten, but at a certain point, aren't some of these guys just getting lost on their NFL page? If we were still writing for ESPN, it might take you a half hour just to find our material.
Which is the best announcing team in the NFL? (top eight listed) (Last year's winner: Buck/Aikman)
|23.5% John Madden and Al Michaels, NBC
13.7% Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson, FOX
12.1% Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, FOX
11.9% Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth, NFL Network
6.3% Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker, CBS
6.3% Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon, CBS
6.0% Ron Pitts and Jesse Palmer, FOX
5.8% Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS
We deliberately did not allow people to vote for the one-time ESPN "B" team of Nessler, Jaworski and Vermeil, because we all know they were the best team this year by leaps and bounds. What's the point of having them win with 99% of the vote, especially when ESPN only used them once?
Among the regular broadcast teams, John Madden and Al Michaels return to the top as they move to NBC. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, our top team last year, took a significant tumble, losing almost half their votes compared to 2005. In the past, I always referred to Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson as the "most inoffensive announcing team," since each year they are the only team with more than 10% of the vote for "best announcing team" but barely any votes for for "worst announcing team." This year, FO readers feel they aren't just inoffensive -- they're the best team on Sunday afternoons, on either network.
Do you think CBS needs to re-think their announcing teams? No CBS team finishes higher than fifth. The network's top announcers are eighth. The third team, Dick Enberg and Randy Cross, got 2.1% of the vote. (Enberg really needs to retire -- listening to him mispronounce and screw up names every five minutes is agonizing.) The second team, Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, got 1.4% of the vote. How bad is that? The ESPN Monday Night Football team got 1.6% of the vote! Gumbel and Dierdorf finished behind the New Three Stooges!
This year we added a space for readers to tell us what they like best about these teams. Here's a sampling of comments.
John Madden and Al Michaels
- Michaels seems to know more about clock management and rules than many head coaches. When focused, Madden can still tell me several things I didn't obviously see.
- Nobody is better than Madden at pointing out details like blocking schemes and disguised coverages.
- When they get a good game, they have the gravitas and knowledge to both make the game seem like an event and illuminate what's going on.
- As long as the game is close, they do a great job at following the game. If it turns into a blowout though, hit the mute button.
- Al Michaels is simply the best. Al Michaels and Gilbert Gottfried would be better than anyone else.
Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson
- Stockton actually describes what's going on, rather than dicking around trying to be funny, plus his voice says "NFL" to me more than anyone this side of Summerall.
- Stockton does play-by-play well and isn't too shrill about it. Moose does the little things like point out good blocking schemes and when the defense makes adjustments that work.
- Stockton and Johnston rarely take the moral condemnation tack that makes Buck nauseating and mars Collinsworth's otherwise great game coverage.
- Tony Siragusa is the only sideline reporter that actually adds something to the broadcast besides those ridiculously uninformative halftime coach interviews. I think I can figure out myself that the team that turned the ball over six times wants to avoid turnovers in the second half.
I should point out that we got a lot of positive comments about Siragusa, and a lot of negative comments. Everyone seems to either love him or hate him.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
- Troy Aikman's mostly intelligent football analysis and Joe Buck's condescending tone. Without Troy I wouldn't learn some things about the game that only former players know. Without Joe I wouldn't learn what a horrible society we live in and how I'm part of the problem with America's youth.
- Joe Buck is nothing special, but Aikman is the most intelligent analyst working today. He seems to understand, and be willing to talk about, the factors that go into playing the game at a far-deeper-than-usual-cliche level, and will often pick up on little technical details about things like blocking schemes and pass routes that most analysts miss. And this is coming from someone who hates the Cowboys. He's just that good.
- When you pair the best play-by-play man in the business with the best color analyst since Madden, you can't help but be the best.
Although one voter called Buck "the best sports play-by-play announcer in the world," almost half the comments on this team said something along the lines of "I put up with Buck because Aikman is great."
Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth
- While Gumbel is not much more than average, Collinsworth misses nothing and his insight is always relevant.
- Collinsworth is so good, and Gumbel so very bad. A perfect storm of entertainment!
- Bryant Gumbel might not have a good voice and might get some small details wrong, but he is good at bringing out the best in others. They don't screw up the game by trying to fit it into a narrative.
- Their announcing sounds more like a conversation and less like a string of clichÃ©s.
Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker
- Gus Johnson could make the Women's NIT sound exciting.
- Johnson's enthusiasm and Tasker's knowledge and professionalism.
- Gus at least tries to bring up statistical analysis, and he also tries to avoid traditional dumb clichÃ©s. The only downside is that Tasker really doesn't do a good job analyzing special teams.
Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
- Harlan provides excitement without overdoing it and does a good job of focusing on the field. Gannon uses his QB experience to provide some solid insight and is continuing to improve.
- Harlan is great because he informs the viewers of substitutions on both sides of the ball before nearly every snap.
- Gannon is enough of a newbie to still actually point out things on the field instead of just spewing clichÃ©s and talking about having dinner with the head coach.
Ron Pitts and Jesse Palmer
- Palmer was actually breaking down plays and making interesting observations, and stayed out of Pitts' way while the play was on.
- They did what they're supposed to do, call the play-by-play and giving accurate, useful commentary and analysis. I kept thinking to myself "damn these guys are good." I couldn't believe it was Jesse "the Bachelor" Palmer.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
- Jim calls an excellent game, but defers to Phil on in-game expertise. They also work well as a team, and both are funny enough without seeming to "try to hard" to be.
- They don't screw up as consistently as most teams do. Nantz has a good feel for play-by-play, and Simms occasionally will chime in with tidbits the viewer could not have learned without him mentioning it.
Who wins the Three Stooges Award for worst announcing team in the NFL? (top eight listed) (Every year's winner: Patrick/Maguire/Theismann)
|40.2% Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, and Joe Theismann, ESPN
12.3% Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, FOX
11.7% Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth, NFL Network
8.7% Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS
5.1% Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, CBS
4.0% Dick Enberg and Randy Cross, CBS
3.2% Matt Vasgersian and J.C. Pearson, FOX
2.3% Kenny Albert and Brian Baldinger, FOX
We might as well name this award after Patrick, Maguire, and Theismann, since those guys won it for four straight years, including 72% of the vote last year. And, of course, it is won by The New Three Stooges. Or, more accurately, The New Four Stooges: Tirico, Theismann, Kornheiser, and whatever lame celebrity interview they've been saddled with that week. Once again here, we see how unpopular the CBS announcers are.
This year, with more pregame shows added to the pregame menu, we split the pregame awards into "host" and "personality." Last year, this was one award, with Tom Jackson winning for best and Michael Irvin for worst. Of course, we all know who would have won best personality if we had opened things up to the Monday pregame show on ESPN -- and this year, with the Big Man moving to Sundays, we had no choice but to let him rule the category.
Who is the best pregame personality? (top eight listed)
|55.1% Ron Jaworski, ESPN
9.4% Cris Collinsworth, NBC
5.3% Tom Jackson, ESPN
3.9% Steve Young, ESPN
|3.3% Terry Bradshaw, FOX
3.3% Howie Long, FOX
3.1% Boomer Esiason, CBS
2.6% Deion Sanders, NFL Network
Who is the worst pregame personality? (top eight listed)
|47.8% Michael Irvin, ESPN
18.9% Shannon Sharpe, CBS
7.2% Deion Sanders, NFL Network
6.7% Terry Bradshaw, FOX
|3.5% Peter King, NBC
2.6% Mike Ditka, ESPN
2.4% Boomer Esiason, CBS
2.4% Sterling Sharpe, NBC
That's three straight years, but you won't have Michael Irvin to kick around anymore. Next in line for derision: Shannon Sharpe. I've never heard him say anything stupid, but that might be because half the time I can't understand anything he's saying at all. It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss with all these marbles in my mouth.
Who is the best pregame host?
|27.8% James Brown, CBS
25.4% Chris Berman, ESPN
20.5% Rich Eisen, NFL Network
19.2% Bob Costas, NBC
|4.7% Curt Menefee, FOX
1.6% Stuart Scott, ESPN
0.9% Joe Buck, FOX
I think most everyone does a good job picking their pregame host, except FOX.
Who is the worst pregame host?
|45.5% Joe Buck, FOX
21.9% Stuart Scott, ESPN
16.1% Chris Berman, ESPN
5.9% Curt Menefee, FOX
|5.7% Bob Costas, NBC
3.6% James Brown, CBS
1.4% Rich Eisen, NFL Network
Holy upset! I can't believe that Joe Buck not only beat Stuart Scott, but got more than twice as many votes! Boy, did that experiment not work.
The best commercial during NFL games this year was: (Last year's winner: Burger King as NFL player)
|21.4% NFL Network "get your story straight"
18.9% Coors Light news conferences
13.8% Burger King sacks Matt Hasselbeck
13.1% MasterCard Peyton Manning "support your team"
10.6% Miller Lite Man Laws
10.4% NFL.com "Reggie Bush's fantasy draft"
8.5% Nike Briscoe High football
1.9% Combos "What your mom would feed you if your mom was a man."
1.5% Diet Pepsi sound over NFL footage
A lot of people complained that we didn't include the Bruce Campbell Old Spice ad, but I don't think it had debuted yet when I compiled the list. We probably won't include "get your story straight" in future years, since the NFL Network runs that every year, but this year's version was especially funny. ("I'm sweatin' like a steam fittah in here.")
The most annoying commercial during NFL games this year was: (Last year's winner: Nokia "I delete him from my phone")
|59.1% This is Our Country
9.4% The one where the guys fast forward through the game to get to the commercial for some truck, which is so annoying we can't even remember what company it is for.
5.8% Dodge Ram: Rock 'em Sock'em Robots
5.2% Diet Pepsi sound over NFL footage
4.8% ESPN Monday Night Football campaign based on the idea that nobody watches football Saturday or Sunday.
4.4% Coors Light news conferences
11.3% (five other candidates)
In future years, this will be known as the Mellencamp Must Die Award.
The next question was "What is your favorite team-specific website or blog?" I didn't do a good job of asking this one, so the answers don't make a lot of sense. I meant to ask for independent websites and blogs, but instead, most of the votes were either for national sites, official team sites, or blogs from some of the winners of our next category. Whoops. I'll try to re-word this better next year.
Which local NFL writer do you feel deserves a more national profile?
This question never gets enough votes to give percentages, but the two writers who tied for the most votes this year were the same two writers who received most of the votes last year -- and the same two writers whose blogs received the most mentions for the previous question as well: Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe and Mike Sando of the Tacoma News-Tribune. Clearly in third behind these two was Rich Gosselin from the Dallas Morning News. Other writers who received at least three votes included:
- Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Jason Cole, Miami Herald
- Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star
- Jason LaCanfora, Washington Post
- Matt Maioco, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
- Mark Maske, Washington Post
Also receiving a few votes, although he's not really a "local reporter" per se: Mike Carlson, who covers the NFL for NFLUK.com and Channel Five in Britain. And while this question is not supposed to refer to writers on official team websites, I should mention a number of votes for Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com. Ketchman writes a very good mailbag column and Jaguars.com might be the most independent of the 32 team websites.
One of the writers who received votes in this category in past years actually did move up to the big time this year: Tom Curran of the Providence Journal-Bulletin, who was hired as the main NFL reporter for NBC.com.
The funniest thing to happen during the 2006 NFL season was: (Last year's winner: Clinton Portis press conferences)
|59.5% Dennis Green's "They are who we thought they were" press conference.
12.3% The Oakland Raiders "offense"
2.2% Christian Slater's absurd interview during Monday Night Football.
2.2% Random belching during NFL Network telecast
3.0% (three things that were not as funny as these other things)
The speech so memorable that AOL's NFL Fanhouse called their picks of the best and worst of 2006 the "Crown Their Asses" awards.
Finally, for the second straight year, we asked readers about their favorite team. Unlike last year, every single team in the NFL received at least two votes. Here's a look at the top 15 teams. I've added rank in last year's balloting for the teams that were in last year's top dozen (meaning more than three percent of the vote in 2005). For the first time since Football Outsiders launched in 2003, the New England Patriots are not the most popular team among FO readers.
|Favorite Team of FO Readers, End of 2006 Season|
E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles! Football Outsiders continues to be big in Pennsylvania, possibly because DVOA loves the Eagles and Steelers. To drop from 11.4% of the readers to 6.5% of the readers seems like a huge drop, and I have a feeling we had some Patriots fans who just missed the awards, but still, it's another step in the long, hard battle to convince people that we are not a "Patriots fan site" even though the editor-in-chief is a Patriots fan. As you might expect, fans of the two Super Bowl teams were reading Football Outsiders a lot during the playoffs, when we held the balloting.
And now, for the final element of this year's awards balloting, we present, as voted by the Football Outsiders readers ...
The 2007 Class of the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame
Mike Tanier first introduced the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame in this article and it was so popular that we decided to induct five players each year. To merit induction into the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame, a player or coach must:
- Have had a five-year NFL career, and must be retired for at least one season.
- Have made a significant contribution to the game of fantasy football.
- Have no chance in this world of getting into the real Hall of Fame.
Super Bowl appearances count against potential candidates, as do other noteworthy accomplishments like an MVP award. A candidate's best seasons had to occur after the dawn of the fantasy sports era (the mid-to-late 1980s) and bonus points are awarded for non-football factors like a catchy nickname or related food product.
Here are the five inductees chosen by the Football Outsiders readers this year.
| RICH GANNON
Outstanding fantasy seasons from 1999-2002. Scrambling quarterback who ran for 21 career touchdowns. Five interceptions in the Super Bowl. Spent a decade on the bench behind guys like Wade Wilson and Steve Bono. Made throwing sidearm cool.
| EDDIE GEORGE
Seven 1,000-yard seasons. Outstanding fantasy seasons in 1999, 2000 and 2002. Was a better fantasy player than real player for most of his career. Enormous biceps. Completely pointless final season with the Cowboys. Negatives: Was an excellent player in the 1999 postseason and scored two Super Bowl touchdowns.
| GARRISON HEARST
Outstanding fantasy season in 1998, with several other good seasons. Constantly injured. Had one of the most unlikely comebacks in history after missing two seasons with a severe leg injury. Delightfully pointless end-of-career stint in Denver tricked many fantasy owners into drafting him in 2004.
| JIMMY SMITH
Seven 1,000-yard seasons. Was the consummate stat compiler, with six passes for 75 yards every week for 10 years. Put up 291 yards and three touchdowns in one game in 2000, becoming the worst start/bench decision in fantasy football history because so many people sat him against the Ravens. Negatives: He had some great postseason games.
| WESLEY WALLS
Outstanding fantasy seasons in 1996 and 1999. Several other good seasons. Just five playoff appearances in 14 seasons. Hung around three years too long because of his "leadership," making him a sucker's choice for fantasy football owners everywhere from 2001 to 2003.
One of these days, we're going to finally get around to putting together a whole FFHOF page with all of Jason's cartoon busts of the players, including the original inductees. Eventually.
Here's a look back at the three previous FO awards results: