System for evaluating QBs' performance outdated
Posted: Thursday October 25, 2007 10:23AM; Updated: Thursday October 25, 2007 11:47AM
I was on a talk show the other day and the host asked me what the things are that I hate most.
"Too many to list," I told him.
"Well, just give me the highlights," he said.
"Those lying, sneaky airlines and their bag of tricks. Guys who come to your house to fix something and tell you, 'It shouldn't be doing that.' Hostess seating, gourmet dining, valet parking, 'Have a nice day,' 'No problem,' and...whoops, I almost forgot ...The NFL passer rating system."
He didn't press me on that last one or we'd still be talking about it, and he probably wouldn't grasp it if I'd explain that it's a prehistoric monster that no one understands, an illogical piece of antiquity that influences so much of the game when it shouldn't. It affects what is written, what is discussed, what becomes the basis, in some cases, of salary structure and bonuses for players and coordinators.
Steve Young, who has the highest career passer rating in history, admits that he's "not quite sure how the system works."
Charley Casserly, who as Redskins general manager was quite aware that some clauses were built into contracts that reflected the rating points, says, "No, I couldn't tell you exactly how they determine the ratings."
Bill Parcells, whose 11-point dictum to quarterbacks came from years of study of the position, says, "I don't know how they arrive at their ratings and I don't care. I don't pay any attention to them. I have my own system for evaluating quarterbacks."
So who are these people that have imposed such a law upon the game? How did they ever arrive at it? Why do they stay in business, operating out of a dark cave everyone is unwilling to explore?
Ah, your faithful narrator is just the man to explain this to you, because he has been battling these people, with no success, for many years. They are the Elias Sports Bureau on Fifth Avenue in New York. Professional statistics people for many sports, for many years. NFL statistics had been a jumbled, confused mess ever since they were first recognized in 1932. I looked through my old Spalding Official NFL Guides of the 1930s and it was tough to tell exactly how passers were rated ... one year by total yards, then completion percentage, then yards per pass attempt, then a combination. So Elias was called in to bring some order to the whole area of statistics keeping.
After the 1972 season the bookkeepers at Elias tweaked the official system, which was based on proficiency in four categories -- completion percentage, plus three more relating to passes thrown, interceptions, TDs and yards. If a passer was first in the league in one of those categories, he got a one. Second, a two, and so forth. At the end, the four numbers were added. Low score wins. Elias retained the four categories, but worked out a points system for each mark a passer put up in every one of them. Then a total score was tallied.