Statistics. Once upon a time I loved them. Growing up as a baseball junkie, I kept old newspapers, clippings from previous games and taped them into the pages of a notebook. College ruled. With my first computer, using the horrifically unreliable dial-up AOL service, I printed every baseball statistic I could grab on my dot-matrix printer, unfolding the paper on my desk to comb over it. There was no reason for it. No logical purpose, fulfilling an insatiable curiosity that simply came with the game of baseball.
Transitioning into my teenage years was accompanied with a shift in sports, slowly departing from the statistical-intensity of baseball to the sweet orchestra of football. Eleven men working together for a common goal, applying their craft often without the awareness of the ball's location or the play's development. Offensive linemen block pass rushers and wide receivers run precise routes, neither knowing what the other is doing. Running backs either chip pass rushers and sprint into the flats as an outlet or pick up a blitzing linebacker, assuming they've identified the rusher. All the while quarterbacks absorb and translate this information within three seconds, making the choice to release the football with the awareness of pressure collapsing inside the pocket. There is no sport like it.
Yet football boils down to something much more than the level of talent someone has. It's ball security, determination, coaching and execution, among other intangibles are rarely highlighted. Based on pure talent Carson Palmer is probably the better quarterback in his prime with the Cincinnati Bengals. Yet knowing what you know with Andy Dalton today, you tend to appreciate the intangibles that Dalton brings, such as determination, perseverance and resolve -- things that Palmer never exhibited in Cincinnati.
But it's not just about quarterbacks or a team's overall measure of talent -- they factor, but it's not the complete picture. Running backs are only as good as their offensive lines. Quarterbacks are only as good as their receivers (and vice versa). Linebackers are only as good as their defensive linemen, who consume and disrupt blocking assignments. And in indirect cases, pass rushers are only as good as the secondary (and vice versa).
It's harmonous. A symbiotic sport.
Statistics may offer fodder for discourse or a baseline for judging certain skill players, but it also lacks context of both the player and the game. Unlike baseball, where statistics rule, football is the exception.
Then you don't need me to compare the two. George Carlin does it well enough.
+ Cincinnati faces the New York Jets in their preseason opener this Friday at Paul Brown Stadium without wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
+ Latest reports have the Bengals with $16.18 million available under the salary cap this year.
+ Several marquee Bengals players joined head coach Marvin Lewis at Wright-Pat Air Force Base on Monday. Hopefully they got a chance to see the museum, which is always an awesome experience.
+ Former Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday. Seahawks fans seem relatively fine with the move, much like our reaction in 2010 when we said heading into training camp that year, "HOLY CRAP WE NEED SOMEONE!"
+ An interesting topic/post.