The Sophistication of the NFL: Minority hiring and the return of defense.
By The King Maker
If I told you that we have been led to slaughter by our own preconceived notions; that we have wagered with certainty on only half the facts almost all the time; and that our way of seeing the NFL has been systematically hidden from us for the last 38 years, then would you call me a fool?
Let's get to the point.
The average NFL gambler is generally considered a "square". The term "square" implies a certain level of inexperience. In terms of research, the NFL bettor restricts his studies to a rather limited number of forums that include the sports page, radio, and television. He ultimately relies on the point of view of those commentators, writers, and analysts that flood the public market with their opinions. Those opinions become imprinted on the minds of their audience. That audience then makes, what they consider to be an educated wager.
And that's the "fatal flaw" for nearly 85% of the gambling public. Since the inception of the NFL, the purveyors of analytical thought have historically been from the offensive side of the ball. In the great arms race between offensive punch and defensive counter-punch, the offense has traditionally taken the lead in striking the first blows, while the defenses morph to defend the new iterations as quickly as they appear. During this tactical tug-of-war, the quarterback eventually emerged as the hero; the great headliner, and eventually, the television sports commentator. If it wasn't a quarterback, then the network's vocal leaders came from other parts of the offensive phase of the game. Let's look at Monday night football as an example:
*Frank Gifford (receiver, RB) and Don Meredith (QB) joined Howard Cosell for the decade of the 70's.
*During the 80's, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith were joined by Fran Tarkington (QB), O.J. Simpson (RB), Joe Namath (QB), Dan Dierdorf (Guard), and Lynn Swan (WR). (Al Michaels joined as well)
*In the 90's, Dierdorf and Gifford were joined by Boomer Esiason (QB), and Lesley Visser.
*The new century brought three more offensive minds to the Monday Night team. Dan Fouts (QB) and Eric Dickerson (RB), and finally John Madden (Who was an offensive lineman, who also coached under the tutelage of Don Coryell: one of the greatest offensive minds in the history of football.)
If we use the Monday Night Football broadcasting groups as a microcosm for our discussion, then we can safely assume that almost all of your dialogue; all of your terminology; and all of your deep-seated opinions about the importance of certain positions originated in the mind of an offensive player! We all know the phrase "everything on a football field must go through the quarterback". That phraseology was imprinted into your mind by a quarterback, or at the very least, one of his direct benefactors (RB, OL or WR).
The entire span of Monday Night Football broadcasts were delivered by offensive players! Is it any wonder that "square" bettors habitually play OVERS? How many times did you take the high flying offenses of The Bills, Broncos, Chargers, or more recently, The Raiders and Rams, in a Super bowl? If you did, then you lost money.
This is my question, and consequently, my point: Has Vegas thrived due to a disconnect created by one-sided reports from the media?
We can extrapolate downward and trace our polluted mentality down to regular season games, and most notably, to games played this year!
The Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants are the top three money winners against the spread this season. Two of them sport low level offenses, and tremendous defenses. They are a combined 31-8 against the spread! And somehow the odds makers have a way of beating us!
How can that be?
It's because we have been systematically bred to understand the offensive side of the ball. Until recently, we have suffered under the vocal opinions of quarterbacks, running backs, and lineman; All mavens of the NFL experience. Redirecting our wagers away from the defense, and into the expensive laps of the offensive juggernauts of the world.
Is there a cure?
The hiring of African American coaches has led to a new wave of defensive thinkers, and this highly successful list of men has begun to foster an entire wave of present and future broadcasters that come from the defensive side of the ball! Those African American coaches shifted the focus from the offense, and placed the spotlight on the defensive phase of the game. You can already see the quick induction of defensive announcers into the ranks of ESPN and the NFL network. Defensive players now have celebrity status in much larger numbers, so they are more likely to be ingrained into the American psyche, and therefore hired as TV personalities. Consequently, the quality of information dissemination has risen to such a degree that the "square" bettors are getting their first fair look at a cleanly thought out wager.
You are finally being fed a defensive outlook.
We have to be careful NOT to attach too much bias on the racial realities of this assumption. In every decade, ABC attempted to place African-American stars in front of the cameras. The first, "front line", minority hire was Fred "The Hammer" Williamson in 1974, and though his stint was brief, it showed a certain level of sensitivity during a highly charged time. Fred was followed up by Lynn Swan, O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, and Mike Terico.
IT'S POSITIONAL, NOT NECESSARILY RACIAL.
The reality of the situation is that African Americans populate the defensive side of the ball in overwhelming numbers, so the likelihood of an African American announcer, coming from the newly revolutionary defensive world, is going to be higher. As gamblers, we are like canaries in the coal mine. We tend to take more risks and, like stock traders, our world is always "forward looking". And this is why we are seeing the complete benefits of minority hiring (even at an unacceptable level) in our small world. The effects of this mindset will benefit us all, but you have to recognize the phenomenon before the odds makers pick it up! The world is shifting. The sophistication of the NFL is a mere microcosm of the future, but I want you to know that we can capitalize on America's lack of understanding in this matter.
The Ravens, Giants, and Titans are your canaries in the mine! Do not lose sight of the spectacular trend that we are witnessing.
And Marco: You are absolutely correct. There is no equal, perhaps in all of sports. Part of this reasoning has its base in the sheer history of Western Pennsylvania football.
You have a ton of FOUNDATION in that region, whether is comes from across the border in WV and OH, or drifts south from NY. You have three Rivers there, but the confluence of other things is just as significant. That region is one of the true hearts of football (I could argue Texas as being another).
When it comes to coaching hirings the Steelers are without question the best in the business. Question that fact just look at the last 3 coaches..Tomlin, Cowher and Noll. Those 3 coached for 4 decades!!
Good stuff, TKM!
Matty: Men like Tomlin have an uphill climb, as we all know. His Cover-2 mentality in an overlay on that awesome, and amazing (existing defense) is a formula for success.
The time for TRUE acceptance of minority hire is now. I speak of the NFL, where 80% of all players are not white.
I am a fierce opponent of blind "affirmative action", but the NFL is different to me.
Tomlin was a GREAT HIRE!
Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the NFL no matter what some people might think. Just look at Pittsburgh's record right now with the toughest schedule in 25 years...
sorry about the publishing error....maybe I have it fixed now.