I created this blog to archive all of my articles as a NFL writer. As someone with self-prescribed OCD, I am not sure why it did not occur to me to do something like this sooner, but here we are now.
Here is the summary of my path as a NFL researcher/writer, and I promise it will not be as long as (most of) my articles.
Around 2003 I began making spreadsheets of NFL statistics as a hobby. I have always loved math and stats, and as a completionist, I began to build up a large collection of interesting data that enhanced my love of the game. While attending the University of Pittsburgh (my hometown), I did a couple of projects as an Industrial Engineering student using NFL statistics, and that is when I really started taking an interest in regression, time studies, and of course the concepts of efficiency and production.
I could actually understand how what I was learning can apply directly to football, and wanted to contribute my unique views somehow. It was during this time in college that I became addicted to the Pro-Football-Reference site and blog, because there was nothing else like it on the net (still true today). After frequently leaving comments on the blog, creator Doug Drinen sent me an e-mail in regards to something I mentioned about research I had.
In 2007 I had started compiling a database of games started by quarterbacks for as far back as I could find them. I used and abused Google’s news archives to find everything I could, and was stunned with some of the shoddy record keeping (that’s also still true to this day). To analyze quarterbacks in great detail, we have to first start with a solid foundation of which games they actually started.
With the help of researchers such as Ken Pullis and Clark Heins, I was able to create a database of quarterback starts and add it to Pro-Football-Reference, marking the first time this information was available to the public in that form. That is what I like to do: create and make rare information accessible. It has had an impact, as I even got Fran Tarkenton’s once-record 125 wins as a starter changed to 124. Legendary quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath also had errors in their data.
My biggest project has been the first true standardization for fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. After writing what I hope will be considered a seminal article on the topic in August of 2009 (my first article ever, actually), I soon after added a database of these drives to PFR, and we update it weekly during the season.
As time has passed, this information finally being available has changed the way many refer to these types of wins, and hopefully it will lead to the league-wide standardization it deserves.
After writing a few other articles on PFR, I decided late in 2010 I would write a weekly article starting in 2011 on all the comebacks and game-winning drives. An opportunity in July came up to write for a new site called Football Nation, which had acquired Cold, Hard Football Facts. I now had a place for “Captain Comeback”, and it had a very successful first season. I won the Writer of the Year Award at Football Nation, and will continue breaking down myths and fighting for reality in the everlasting battle with perception.
I have also done research for NFL Network’s Football Freakonomics series, and even managed to make the front page of the Sports Illustrated website in May 2012 with an article on the downward spiral in the postseason for this century’s top seeds in all four major American pro leagues.
Currently, I also write about the NFL at Bleacher Report, and will hopefully break more new ground at Colts Authority with my coverage of Andrew Luck’s career in Indianapolis.
I must admit part of my motivation for getting involved was my displeasure as a fan with the lack of solid analysis I was reading and hearing for what is a complex game. With the analytical sites and people I have associated or made contacts with, I feel appreciated to be part of a group of people that are doing what they can to raise the standard of football analysis and treat it as the thinking man’s game that it is.