Confessions of a National Football League Media Member
“I blame the media.” My God, how many times have we heard this from NFL coaches and players? Well, personally, I love the media! Not only for a unique opportunity like this contest, but for the fact that the “media” is a bunch of idiots! In truth, I find them to be a bunch of “experts” whose only value comes from the actual newsworthy information they provide (like reporting injuries); but absolute ignorance when it comes to opinion and prognostication. In fact, as grateful as I was to predict many outcomes of games and work with NFL coaches on establishing game plans, I am equally grateful that the media keeps inspiring the “public” with poor judgment resulting in moves that should benefit a savvy and wise fan, coach or strategist. As for some of the more priceless and profitable media mistakes, misnomers, and misinterpretations, let me share a few….
Perhaps the worst “stat” ever created was the “QB winning percentage.” With a degree in broadcasting and experience in television and reporting; let me tell you something of how the industry works….TV loves to personalize things for dramatic effect. Truth be told, it is more glamorous and appealing for network execs to “put a face” on a game and a won-loss, victory-defeat, persona on the viewing experience than it is to understand the game itself. And the most logical identifiable player comes from the position of quarterback.
Do you think a QB's winning percentage is a misleading stat?
Secondly, TV is very “copycat.” If one show does it—another is soon to follow. And the first pea brain who concocted this statistical concept has caused a cancerous tumor on the mindset of viewers (and likely some of you who invest your hearts every week). Honestly, even fantasy players can be diseased for life. Truth be told, all this “stat” actually accomplishes is “dramatic effect.”
In fact, in the game of football, it couldn’t be farther from the reality of winning the game. The QB is 1 of 11 players on a field. A football team offense is one of the most complicated entities in the sports world. Not to mention, what sport has more total members comprise its team? And, as great as players like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning are: I guarantee you, they perform a lot worse and their “winning percentages” go drastically down if they played their last 5 seasons on the Texans or Browns. Does that change their talents as individuals? Not necessarily. Neither then should they as individuals be credited with a team “win” or “loss.” The mindset of the media regarding this “statistic,” and the nature of team sport, is a simplistic and moronic approach and incredulously asinine. Don’t be fooled! Football is a team sport, don’t forget it!
As for some other dynamic errors in judgment by the “media”; note these: Injuries are less causes or excuses for a team’s weakness or won-loss record than viewers are led to believe. The media seems to think some act of fate has caused these greatest of athletes to go down. Thus, they will lead you to misjudge the quality of a team. Injuries occur primarily for two reasons, and these two reasons are both great indicators in a team’s level of quality or ability. One cause is mentally derived. Teams and players who have had a previous success, like a Super Bowl win, tend to become less emotionally and physically involved in off-season and pre-season training. It’s a simple fact of human nature. For example, look at the injury-riddled Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for example. Last years champs, for the most part, will again, likely succumb to a physical let down and lack of conditioning (Rocky Balboa in #1 wasn’t as hungry or well-conditioned as Rocky in #2, was he)? As well, look at a dynasty like the Patriots, who seem to habitually have to overcome injury problems. To his credit, Coach Belichick understood this years back and actually coached his team to win back-back to championships; then what (the next season)?…the let down…only natural.
The second factor in an injury that is obliviously overlooked and anyone who ever played the game as I did with the National Champion University of Miami Hurricanes (with Coach Jimmy Johnson, Jim Kelly, Michael Irvin and Vinny Testaverde) can attest to, is this: NFL football is a terribly grueling and physical game played by incredibly talented athletes. The better players and better teams will injure the lesser players and teams when the game is being played…simple. Yet, the media tends not to recognize this very Darwinian notion. “Survival of the fittest,” is often the name of the NFL game.
A third great misinterpreted media Gospel is “turnovers.” Turnovers, while much can be attributed to the talent of a team, are also very balanced by nature. By that I mean, during the course of games and even seasons; turnovers, like “bad beats” in poker, have a natural tendency to balance themselves out. And thus, when it comes to predicting NFL games; especially where “all else is as close to equal” from week-to-week and team-to-team; one would show great wisdom in understanding this truth and factoring it into the success equation.
Lastly, and perhaps greatest, or first of all; is the media’s blindness as to the most important component of any team, or player, in sports. When it comes to ranking of teams, or determining strength or talent, the grave mistake is to equate this simply to wins and losses. This can prove costly to teams, players and fans. In today’s media, much like in the NCAA game, where rankings are based more on having a -0 at the end of a record, the one factor, above all that equates to victory and winning in the end; is just what a first-class (hint, hint) horse-player will be first to tell you: “class.”
Let it be known, I faithfully believe the media ranks teams with an incredible disregard for the truth of “class.” That is why, so often, week-to-week, they will alter their thoughts on teams like a junkie looking for a quick fix. Keep in mind; the difference between a pro and a loser is analyzing and realizing that the season starts at training camp, day one, and ends with the Super Bowl. It is anything but a week-to-week happenstance or random event blown by the wind of fate. Now, since I have so lengthily expounded on the lack of wisdom by the “media”; let me leave you with a pearl of wisdom that will benefit you throughout the rest of the season…but for that, you are going to have to read another article of mine….
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