NFL FAIL (Or, how Hurricane Ike Helped Good Men Forget How to Do Business)

As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I’m pretty pissed off at the moment. The reason is very simple. Due to the NFLs incompetence and lack of planning, the team with the fourth most difficult schedule before the season began is stuck with a Week 2 BYE.

The scenario was clear on Monday. A massive hurricane was bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico and showed no sign in wavering off course. It was headed straight for the Texas gulf coast. A handful of teams play in proximity to the gulf coast, all of who might have been affected at that time. New Orleans was scheduled to be in Washington, so no concerns were merited there. Tampa Bay was at home against Atlanta, but there was no expected threat to western Florida. Dallas was playing host to the Philadelphia Eagles way inland. And of course, the Ravens were traveling to Houston for a week 2 showdown at Reliant Stadium.

As we know now, only one game was directly affected by Hurricane Ike making landfall around Galveston, TX early Saturday morning. By all accounts, Reliant Stadium may not be able to be played in until the second half of the season. Chunks of the roof have been torn off and excessive water damage, according to officials, is at ground level.

Surprised as they were, the NFL has juggled the schedule to allow the game to be played during Week 10, bumping the scheduled Bengals-Texans game to Week 8 when those teams had scheduled BYEs and leaving the Ravens and the Texans with a Week 2 BYE.

That’s right, a week 2 BYE. For the team with the fourth most difficult schedule. The original Week 10 BYE was scheduled after a long run where the Ravens would face all division rivals once, including the hated Steelers, plus matchups against Indianapolis and Tennessee. Now, with the exception of the week 1 win against the Bengals, all of those games will fall after the one and only break the team gets all year. There is no “recharge for the second half”.

Let me be clear, disasters happen and what has happened in Texas along the Gulf Coast is, indeed, tragic. However, with the Saints in Washington, this game could have been scheduled for the Superdome and still have drawn a home crowd. LSU has a night game tonight, but in a pinch, an NFL game could have been played on Monday or Tuesday. The Alamodome in San Antonio is two hundred miles inland, and was largely unaffected by Ike. It seats 65,000 people.

Or, hey, at least have a Plan B. Maybe actually get your inspections in so that the Astrodome could have been utilized in case of damage to Reliant Stadium.

Or maybe the Baltimore Ravens themselves could have opened up their home of M&T Bank Stadium to play as “the visiting team” and allow Texans fans right of first ticket, honoring the tickets already purchased for the game in Houston.

Any number of things could have been done to avoid the doomsday scenario that is happening right now. But the NFL did not plan and did not look ahead. They waited to make a game-time decision, pardon the pun, affected teams practicing and mental preparation and quite possibly have caused serious injuries that might not have come later in the season if players had an adequate opportunity for a rest and healing cycle which was the impetus for the BYE week in the first place.

Shame on the NFL. If you have fantasy teams, makes sure you peek at your rosters this week and are not starting Ravens or Texans in week 2 and that you have enough time, if the waiver period has not already passed, to complement your roster if necessary.

NBC, NFL Deal Puts Adobe One More Step Back

Quietly, a sleeping giant has been evolving. That sleeping giant is Silverlight, a Microsoft rich media technology to rival Adobe’s Flash/Flex platform.

On this date, July 28, there is a dearth of Silverlight content on the web. Almost all the major video sites use Flash players, with Hulu, an NBC property, being a probable exception. However, that is about to change.

NBC Universal is a partner with Microsoft, and the two have collaborated to produce properties such as MSNBC among other joint ventures. In just a short week from now, the next generation of the Microsoft-NBC Universal partnership will unfold before an international audience. NBC’s coverage of the Olympics will be live streamed over the internet using Microsoft Silverlight technology.

I’ve talked to people recently who have discussed the Silverlight platform in the context of competition with Adobe and the ubiquity of Flash. The consensus is that Flash will be here for awhile yet, but as more and more adoption of Silverlight occurs, the Flash footprint could wane significantly. Developers need reason to use a new technology and with the absence of such reason, the status quo will remain.

That reason could very well be the widespread success, if it is a success, of the Olympic coverage on Olympics.com.

But wait, there’s more.

Silicon Alley Insider reported yesterday that an announcement would be made announcing NBC live coverage of Sunday Night Football during the 2008 season over the web. That’s right. Streaming games, multiple camera angles, instant in-home replay, statistics and more.

Which platform is poised to leverage this astonishing about-turn from NFL press mongers? You got it… Silverlight.

Why would NBC invoke any other technology than Silverlight to render rich media content over the web when the technology is quite possibly powering Hulu-powered television and quite possibly about to be a rousing success at the Olympics.

As a side note, the NFL about face on the use of the internet is interesting. Those who have read this site for a long time recall the video podcast that I did from Ravens training camp that was shut down. The video is in my archives if you want to go looking. It’s quite funny, actually.

The NFL is calling this a one year experiment to determine the interest in viewers engaging and consuming their content in non-traditional ways. I look forward to the report that rubber stamps what we’ve known for quite some time: online video consumption, live and otherwise, is replacing televisions in homes across America.

Update: as noted frequently in comments, Hulu is not powered by Silverlight but Flash.

Update 2: So Silverlight was seen as a huge fail and NBC has gone with Flash for their SNF coverage.

4th and 11 and Going for It

Congratulations to the New York Giants for their Victory in Super Bowl XLII. It was a classic. It was much closer than anyone expected.
The thing that sticks out at me as the epitome of the 2007 New England Patriots is the arrogance. With a 7-3 lead in the third quarter and faced with a 4th and 13 at the NYG 31 yard line, you’d expect the Pats to kick the 48 yard field goal. There was no pressing reason to do any differently. If the range was in question, it would not be unheard of to call for a short punt that would pin the Giants inside their 10 yard line.
Yeah, no.
Instead, the Patriots decided a pass play was in order and, quite naturally, the play failed to deliver the first down. This odd choice was fairly typical through the Patriots 2007 season where they were often accused of running up the score on opponents. Worse, the Patriots turned the ball over having not added 3 points to their total.
The final score had a spread of 3 points. Ironic, isn’t it?

Drinking the Kool Aid, Believing the Hype

Congratulations to the New York Giants for upsetting the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. It was unexpected. It was exciting. It was nailbiting.

However, I’m absolutely disgusted with the national sports media surrounding this Patriots team. Somehow, they have created a hype that history now shows us could not be sustained. All year, the idea that this Patriot machine could not be beaten was pushed and pushed and pushed. There were obvious signs that this hype was not reality, but foolishly the media failed to recognize the signs and continued stumping their speeches. And we believed them.

In Week 12, the Philadelphia Eagles had the Patriots beaten in the 4th quarter and Brady’s squad engineered a comeback. In Week 13, the Baltimore Ravens had the Pats beaten 3 times in the fourth quarter, but penalties and poor officiating gave the Patriots the inches they needed to get the win. Finally, in week 17, Brady had to play from behind again to pull out a win against the New York Giants. Yes, the same now-World Champion New York Giants.

On Fox Sports Radio this afternoon, Vic Carucci stated that “we are just waiting for the inevitable” noting that the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl had been dull and dry and lacking any kind of real expectation.

After the Giants won tonight, another radio commentator asked, “How did we not see this coming?”

My answer: You bought into your own hype. You forgot that the Giants were the NFC Champions. You believed that there was no way that the Patriots could not go undefeated. What a fantastic news story that would be. The only team to go undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. You lined up Don Shula on radio show after television show. You predicted that the Patriots would win the game in the first quarter. You said that Eli Manning was a nobody. You said that Bellichick was a master with or without “Spygate“.

You created your own koolaid, and then you drank it. Shame on you.

Fantasy Picks for Week 13

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of football. You also might remember when I blogged over at Squib Kick before the current author, Jim Edwards, began. Since Jim started, the blog has become one of my favorites sports blogs anywhere. Recently Jim encountered some health issues that have forced him to do less blogging and as a result, several folks have been guest blogging over there.

Today, I began a weekly segment I’ll be doing for a bit until Jim gets back. Specifically, it’s for those of you who do fantasy football. Go check it out.

NFL Draft Predictions

Today is the first day of the NFL draft 2007 and I’ll be following it closely and doing a bit of live blogging over at Suicide Fan. In addition, we’ll cap the draft day 1 off with a podcast with David Kindervater, credentialed NFL press and podcaster, from NYC at the end of Round 1. Due to timing, the show will be released tomorrow morning. Questions? Comments? Leave your message at 443-450-4646 or at mailbag@suicidefan.com. Continue reading