Friday, June 29, 2007

the definition of lazy journalism

is embodied in this piece titled "In or out? Will these stars of today be HOF-bound tomorrow?" by's pete prisco. for some reason, most likely "people are stupid", this passes as high quality writing fit for mass consumption. here's how pete works his magic: he takes a list of 50 or so recognizable "big name" players active in the nfl today and tells you whether or not he thinks they're hall of fame worthy. it's an annoying concept to begin with, as many of these guys are barely halfway through their careers. pete then pushes it to near intolerability by making his analysis as dimwitted and trite as possible.

We're about a month away from the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, the unofficial kickoff to the new NFL season.

Since we're in a dead month before the open of training camp, I thought it a good time to break down Hall of Fame prospects from among 45 active NFL stars.

no pete. it's not a good time to do this, at least for most of these guys. why do we care about this? let the HOF debates begin when a guy is retired, or at least very very near retirement (like brett favre).

For example, is Peyton Manning in no matter what happens to him the rest of the way? What about Tom Brady? Isaac Bruce? Torry Holt?

Players with at least six years of experience are the ones I considered, and I used four categories in deciding HOF verdicts for each player:

• 1. The best is "Welcome to Canton" -- they're in.
• 2. Next is "On the Bubble" -- they're close.
• 3. Then it's "Needs more Work."
• 4. "No way."

the simplicity of these categorizations will be even more evident when you team them with pete's non-analysis.

Just shy of six years are players like Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. They're all off to good starts, but they haven't played enough seasons to qualify for consideration here.

Enjoy the list. And, as usual, I'm prepared for those nasty replies that will tell me a lot of things. Like how many of you think my father runs CBS, which is why I have a job. Or that I have no chance to ever make it into the writer's wing of the Hall.

i wish my dad ran a major sports network. i'd be made in the shade for sure. one day some smarmy kids with too much time on their hands could start

I'm used to all of it by now ... bring it on.

you're so tough. let's begin. (i'm not going to do all 45, but you should be able to get a sense of how stupid this stuff is from the ones i do cover.)

Shaun Alexander, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Decision: Needs more work.
He's 25th on the all-time rushing list, so he has a chance. He needs to bounce back with a season like he had in 2005.

very informative. thanks pete. glad to know a guy who once held the record for most touchdowns in a single season has a "chance" at getting into the hall.

Champ Bailey, CB, Denver Broncos
Decision: Welcome to Canton.
I think he's the best defensive player in the league, and two more years playing at the same level will give him 10. He's then a lock on all lists.

so he's a lock for everyone else as soon as he's topped your personal list of best defenders in the league for 10 seasons (8 not being enough).

Ronde Barber, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Decision: No way.
His brother, Tiki, has a better chance. Ronde has been the perfect corner for the Bucs' Cover-2 scheme, but is he a great corner? I say no.

i don't know how the people that actually choose who goes into the hall make their decisions, but i sure as hell hope they do it differently than this. "hey bill, what about this guy, was he great?" "meh, probably not. hard to say. no." "alright, he's not getting in."

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Decision: Welcome to Canton.
He redefined the outside linebacker position, which is a sign of greatness. He made it a speed position. Plus, he's been a great player in doing so.

file that part about redefining the position under "anecdotal bullshit." oh, and in contrast to ronde barber, i'm glad we have clarified that brooks was indeed great. therefore, he's in!

Tedy Bruschi, LB, New England Patriots
Decision: No way.
He was a feisty player who helped those Patriots win three Super Bowls, but was he ever the best defensive player on the field?

just the fact that bruschi made this list for consideration is an insult to football fans with brains everywhere. also, if you've never heard this before, you're missing out big time.

Brian Dawkins, S, Philadelphia Eagles
Decision: On the bubble.
He has been one of the most-dominant safeties for a long time. But safeties have a tough time getting in, for whatever reason. If he can have a year or two like he did in 2006, he has a chance.

if you can't even suggest a theory as to why safeties have a hard time getting in, you should not be writing this column.

Rodney Harrison, S, New England Patriots
Decision: On the bubble.
Some will say he should get in, but I think he's another who was just very good, but not great. Winning a Super Bowl with the Pats will help.

more "good vs. great" horsecrap.

Torry Holt, WR, St. Louis Rams
Decision: Needs more work.
He's still relatively young and playing at a high level, so he has time to get the work done. But for whatever reason, he doesn't get the due he deserves and that may hurt down the road.

que? excuse me? is prisco trying to intentionally distract his readers from relevant information?

Joe Horn, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Decision: No way.
He was a nice player, but not a Hall of Fame player. Was he ever one of the league's truly great receivers?

i don't know, how the hell are we supposed to answer that? look at his stats? i guess not. hearsay and conjecture will have to do for now.

Chad Johnson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Decision: Needs more work.
He has 466 catches in his first six seasons, and has averaged over 90 each of the past four seasons. He would need to do that for another five to seven seasons to be considered.

a great example as to why this list is a stupid idea in the first place. if a guy is at least 5 seasons away from being strongly considered as a hall candidate, there is no point in discussing said candidacy.

Walter Jones, T, Seattle Seahawks
Decision: Welcome to Canton.
For the past seven years, he has been the best offensive lineman in the league. That's high praise.

according to whom? who makes these offensive lineman rankings? i'm not saying there aren't scouts out there who rate offensive lineman and could try to quantify which of them is "best", but if they do indeed exist, there's no way prisco knows about them.

Ty Law, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Decision: On the bubble.
Some people will say he's a candidate, but I don't think he will get in. He's been a nice player, but not a great one.

yet another guy who never achieved "greatness". if only he had done so, and not just merely been "nice", this discussion would be totally different.

John Lynch, S, Denver Broncos
Decision: On the bubble.
A lot of people will say he should go in, but I think he's been a good, not great player. There have been a handful of better safeties in the league his entire NFL career.

i love it when writers make arguments about why someone is good that are based entirely on other people being better than them. did jim kelly's hall candidacy suffer from the fact that he played during the heyday of montana, elway, and marino? evidently not, because he got in.

Kevin Mawae, C, Tennessee Titans
Decision: No way.
He's been a damn good center, but he probably isn't going to get in. He'll get considered, but he'll probably miss out.

an in-depth look at mawae's credentials.

Keenan McCardell, WR, Unsigned
Decision: Needs more work.
He is ninth all time with 861 catches, but he's done so mostly out of the spotlight. He did win a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, which will help. He says he wants to play until he gets 1,000 catches. If that happens, who knows?

certainly not you.

Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Decision: Needs more work.
He's been a good quarterback, but has he ever been the best in the NFL? He hasn't done enough yet, and needs some big years to get there.

again: see kelly, jim.

Randy Moss, WR, New England Patriots
Decision: Needs more work.
I've seen some opinions that no matter what he does, he can't get in because he quit on his team. That's crazy. If he can revert to the old Moss, and put up big numbers for a few more years, he deserves to get in.

congratulations, pete: whoever said that stuff about moss never being allowed in is even dumber than you. you're no longer at the bottom of the barrel.

Orlando Pace, T, St. Louis Rams
Decision: On the bubble.
He wasn't as good as Ogden and he's not as good as Jones. But he's been a heck of a player for a long time.

in other words, uhhhhhhhhh i dunno.

Rod Smith, WR, Denver Broncos
Decision: On the bubble.
He has the numbers, but was he ever a truly great player? His numbers will carry a lot of weight when it's his time, but it's going to be a tough sell.

because according to some asshole at cbssportsline, he managed to end up in the top 10 in career receptions and top 15 in receiving yards without being "truly great."

Zach Thomas, LB, Miami Dolphins
Decision: No way.
He was a good player but overrated at times. He's in the Hall of Good, but not the Hall of Fame.

man, if the hall of fame is in canton ohio (not that nice of a town), i can only guess where the hall of good is. tyler, texas? wibeaux, montana?

Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears
Decision: Needs more work.
He's got a good start, but he has a long way to go to be a Hall of Fame player. Then again, the lineage of his middle linebacker spot with the Bears is a good one.

so urlacher will probably get in because mike singletary played for the same team a long time ago, and he's in.

Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis Colts
Decision: On the bubble.
It's tough to get kickers into the Hall, but his clutch kicking for the Patriots, helping them to three Super Bowl victories, will help. Also, he's far from done.

yeah, he's money from 40ish yards away on astroturf. totally "clutch." i love how everyone drools all over vinatieri for those kicks; as if no other kickers could have hit them. you're SUPPOSED to make kicks like that if you're playing this position for an nfl team. you should be at 80% or higher for your career from that distance on that surface. this is like saying basketball players that make free throws late in games are automatically "clutch." although i hate the concept of clutch in the first place, at least with baseball hitters, you're only looking at 25-30% chance of getting a hit for most guys in any given at bat. so if they consistently get hits at, say, a 35% rate in big situations, yeah, i guess they're clutch-ish. more clutch-ish than an nfl kicker hitting 41 yarders on turf anyways.

Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Decision: No way.
Despite being a two-time MVP, Warner's success was too short. But he should go into the Good-guy Hall of Fame.

the good guy hall of fame is in barrow, alaska.


E said...

You hit the nail on the head with Vinatieri. I mean, you hit it so hard, it's all the way into the piece of wood you were trying to hammer it into. I think it might have even gone straight through the other side.

I mean, the guy's spent his entire career kicking in a dome. Home and away games. And practices. I don't think the guy's ever felt the wind in his hair, much less gotten a tan. I heard he was the first choice to play Powder.

Ok, maybe there was that one time he played outside, in the '01 playoffs against the Raiders, but c'mon, how bad's the weather ever in Oakland? Heather Mills could've made that 45 yarder to send it into OT, not to mention that chip-shot of a game-winner.

And those 48 and 41 yarders to win Super Bowls? Who makes a judgement on such a small sample size? NFL kickers made 73% of kicks between 40-49 yards last year, and's Andrew Mason's study found that the average NFL kicker is 6% more likely to miss a kick in the fourth quarter or overtime, so let's see Adam win five of his next eight Super Bowl-winning attempts from 40ish yards out before we make any rash judgements.

And, I know, some people might say that he's lined up for a game-winning field goal with less than a minute left exactly twenty times, and made nineteen of them, but how could he miss that one field goal? That .050 is what separates Adam Vinatieri from being "clutch," whatever that word means. I mean, football isn't like baseball, where .050 doesn't mean anything. I mean, Raul Mondesi and Hank Aaron had almost identical batting averages with no one on (.283 to .288), and the difference between their averages with runners in scoring position was a little over .050 (.245 to .306), but when it comes down to getting RBI, Aaron was only a little more clutchish than Mondesi.

Nice job calling shenanigans on this Vinatieri "clutch" bs.

larry b said...

meeeeeeee-ow! raaaaaaaaaar! it's not my fault you have a crush on adam vinatieri and want to marry him and have all his babies.

seriously though. vinatieri is a fantastic kicker, and he should end up in the hall. the kicks in the divisional game against oakland were awesome. and the 19/20 thing is amazing as well. clearly this guy is a step above. but read what i actually said, instead of what you wish i had said: i'm taking issue with people sucking his wiener about the super bowl kicks. nothing more.

1. first of all, to imply that it would somehow be harder for him to kick in a dome because he played for a team that played on grass at the time (your second paragraph) is effing ludicrous and you know it. i'm not even going to go into it. no wind and a consistent surface = easier to kick on, assuming you've had time to warm up and practice before the game.

2. so the average guy hits on about 73% from 40-49, so theoretically 67% during a "clutch" situation. but what does that translate to on turf? it's got to be a least somewhat higher. maybe my figure of 80% was a bit much, but the fact remains: even a shitty nfl kicker will hit that field goal at least half the time. a guy like vinatieri should hit it, well, maybe around 95% of the time. but the press he's received for those two field goals is comically disproportionate. the reaction of the media, to this day, seems to suggest he came up with two miracle kicks that no one else this side of jesus christ himself could have possibly hit. it's ludicrous. i'm not saying he doesn't deserve credit and i'm not saying his career "clutch" numbers aren't astonishingly good. i'm merely saying i'm tired of people gushing all over a quality nfl level kicker for hitting a 41 yarder and a 48 yarder on turf. that's all. clutch or not, any guy who makes it in the league as a kicker (and especially one on a team that ends up in the super bowl) is going to hit the kick more than half the time! that's the crux of my argument.

it was a good story at the time; it shouldn't still be one that gets brought up at this frequency. basketball free throws really are great parallel, in terms of expected success percentage. it's like a team is down 1 late, and has the ball in the hands of their point guard (who happens to be a 85%ish FT shooter). he gets fouled in the act, then makes both and they win the game. does this make him "the most clutch FT shooter of all time?" no, it makes him a guy who did his job in a meaningful situation. one more time, i know vinatieri is great. i know he'll end up in the hall (as he should). but hitting those two field goals is simply not on the level of difficulty of hitting a walkoff home run in the world series, or scoring the game winning goal in the world cup, or catching a hail mary to win the bcs title game. it's what you EXPECT from your kicker in that situation. the nail was indeed hit on the head, and is still squarely planted in the board.

PS- just to reclarify- you love adam vinatieri and want to have his babies

Chris W said...


pnoles said...

I just flew to Alaska, and you are TOTALLY making that up, man.

Anonymous said...

Very entertaining. Good show LB.