As we talked about last week, the NFL has decided to release the “All-22″ video of NFL games using their Game Rewind subscription service. Fans will be able to pay $70 per year to see the top of the stadium angle of NFL games in order to see how plays are actually developing as opposed to the way TV creates drama by focusing on the QB and the line of scrimmage. For me, there’s just no downside to this announcement. But some are really scared about what it could do to the culture of the game, specifically among know-it-all fans and media types. I really don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of.
Twitter has taught us how ugly it can be for players already. Just ask Eric Wright after his infamous game against the Baltimore Ravens when Anquan Boldin caught eight balls for 142 yards and three touchdowns. After that game, Wright was subject to some of the harshest, nastiest criticism I’ve ever seen. No matter that he probably could have tossed some teammates under the bus for not helping over the top like they might have been assigned to do. 1 It proved to be an eye-opening moment for me about some of the negatives of player accessibility to fans.Won’t that just get worse if fans have access to this new angle to create Zapruder-like vendetta diaries against players they’d like the team to release? 2
I’m sure there will be a couple of instances like that, but that won’t be the norm. More often, I think you’ll find fans who want to learn about the game. You’ll have fans who want to figure out how their team can get better. They’ll hopefully be gaining insight about the sport they love. Knowledge is power, and some people will use that knowledge for evil. Some will misinterpret the information and be evil that way too. I argue that those people already exist. In the end, you’re left with is just good people and bad people, regardless of information they can access.
I can tell you that I won’t be using tape to tear any players down. I don’t tend to tear guys down anyway. Occasionally, I’ll have reason to say that a guy just isn’t good enough to be on the field like I have with a few right tackles and nickel corners over the past five years in Cleveland. Even then, when I was critical, there wasn’t anything over-the-line, I don’t think. Regardless, I am who I am already. If you think I’m a jerk the way I deal with the Browns now, you’ll probably still think I’m a jerk when I am using the All-22 angles and vice versa. 3
This site won’t change the way it operates. Just because we’ll have access to the “All-22″ doesn’t mean that it will turn us into evil know-it-alls who will all of a sudden desire to trash players who make mistakes or coaches who get out-schemed on a weekly basis. I trash all the players and coaches that I want to trash right now. It just happens to be zero. 4
So don’t be afraid of the future with more information available to fans and critics. Sure, it will enable some bad behavior by a few people, but they were probably going to exhibit that behavior anyway. In all, the rising tide of knowledge and understanding around the NFL should benefit the game and all the conversation we want to have about it on a weekly basis.
- T.J. Ward was a rookie safety at the time. Browns fans can be inconsistent and play favorites in case you didn’t know. [back]
- Or worse. Some fans seem to wish the NFL could be more like international soccer where a player can lose his life for an own goal, like what happened to “The Gentleman of Football” Andres Escobar after an own goal against the United States in the 1994 World Cup. [back]
- I really hope you don’t think I’m a jerk though. I try really hard not to be a jerk. We all fail sometimes I guess. Really I strive to be at least in the 90th percentile… no not of being a jerk… of NOT being a jerk. Now I’m feeling self-conscious. [back]
- Or really close to zero. [back]