Statistics could not have predicted this.
Ever since the advent of recording football stats, fans and critics alike scour the numbers of their favorite player or team looking for great meaning. One cannot simply sit through Monday Night Football without being exposed to some outrageous stat that a crack team of staffers dug from the depths of who knows where.
“Did you know, Al, that this team has not won when the moon has been in line with the south goal post during the third quarter?”
“Really, John? Now that is something amazing!”
Ridiculous stats that have nothing to do with winning or losing have cropped up because the American public is so enamored by numbers and figures. This love of stats, forces the networks to pander to their audience, and like the mindless, easily amused monkey’s we are, we choke down every last number believing that it has something to do with the outcome of the game. This love of the numbers is only perpetuated by the growing craze of fantasy football, which can make a Cleveland Browns fan cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that just isn’t right.
Television networks and their puppet-like broadcasters spew out stats that are being said for the sake of saying, and it only cheapens what a good stat stands for. I don’t care how many times the Seattle Seahawks won the last time John Madden ate beans in between the first and fourth quarters.
Don’t get me wrong — I love stats. There is nothing better than reeling off numbers with a friend. It makes the average sports fan feel like an elite scholar of a prestigious discipline, but I like simple stats. I like stats that actually do make a difference, and so far this season two undefeated teams have stayed unbeaten because of amazing, yet simple, stats, while the other two are complete and total mysteries. And that’s OK, not everything needs to be explained by numbers.
Monday, the undefeated Indianapolis Colts forced overtime and eventually beat Tampa Bay’s beloved Buccaneers because they scored a never-before-seen three touchdowns in under four minutes. Amazing, yet simple.
Dante Hall, that is the only statistic you need. The Kansas City Chief is ravaging the record books, becoming the first player in NFL history to return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown in four consecutive games. Has this stat directly affected the Chiefs’ unbeaten season? You bet it did. Sunday, with the score 23-17 in favor of the Denver Broncos, Hall, in unbelievable fashion, returned a kick 93 yards for the game-winning score. Amazing, yet simple.
The Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers, two of NFL’s biggest jokes the past few years, are heading into week six undefeated. Why? Well frankly, no one knows. Sure Randy Moss is back in his groove, and Carolina is allowing only 12 points a game, but nothing stands out to explain their success. They are just good.
Football is not a scientific process. Not everything can be explained with last season’s stats. The defending AFC champs, the Oakland Raiders, are 2-3. If someone desperately needs an explanation to why the Raiders are struggling, I can provide one: They are old. As for the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs … well they are looking more like the Bucs of the old, the ones that disappoint even the most faithful of fans. Even Cincinnati has a win. Now that is defying all possible statistics.
The use of stats, like everything, is great in moderation. Stats are best used when important to the game or the game’s history. Throwing them out there for no better reason than to throw them out there is pointless and it makes them less interesting.
Please, Al, John and the rest of the commentators out there, if one of those low-level stat mongers that work for your station gives you some stupid useless number, give us all a break by making that person a statistic in the fired-employees column.