Saturday, December 19, 2009

Down with capitalism/TV execs.

On Thursday, I spent my day at work looking forward to the Colts vs. Jaguars game. I naturally assumed a mid-week NFL game with an undefeated team in week 17 of the season with 0 realistic ratings competition would be on network TV. Well I got home to find out that the NFL Network had snatched the game at some point and my basic Comcast package doesn't get the NFL Network. Sigh. Right now my cable bill is around $32 a month, and my roommate and I would have to pay around double that to get the NFL Network (along with a buttload of other channels I'll never watch). So weak, you guys.

So I had to settle with following the score online while I watched Mythbusters and I became increasingly disappointed that I was missing the game with each touchdown. It was a shootout, with Manning, Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne essentially castrating the entire Jaguar defense for 3 quarters.

That's what makes Peyton great. He surgically removes the opponent's will or ability to fight by being maddeningly consistent and precise. Quarterbacks in the NFL are basically like hedge fund managers--they play statistics and odds from ground zero. NFL QBs have to manage the game, looking not necessarily just for points on every drive, but to maximize the optimum position for each move made--putting their defense in a position to get the ball back, running the clock, confusing the opponent's defense, etc etc. In order to do this they have to be in two places at once: present in the moment, on the field, making the plays, as well as constantly assessing the meta-game by understanding the odds. Knowing where each receiver is supposed to be on each play, knowing when to get rid of the ball and when not to, and also knowing the probabilities of certain outcomes, if we get here and punt from this position, what are the chances we get the ball back in how long at what position and so on. Tough job. And Peyton is great at it, possibly the best ever.

Bill Simmons talks sometimes about how amazing it is to see certain players who really, really get it retire and then go into coaching/managing and fail spectacularly. It's curious. You would think guys like Isaiah Thomas or Kevin McHale or Michael Jordan (for crap's sake), all guys who really understood team dynamics and how to manage games, would be ideal coaches or general managers. But they often aren't. It's like once they're removed from the game itself, they have a difficult time understanding how players on a team interact and work together. In Isaiah's case, he made one boneheaded move after another spending money on players who had numbers, but he never created a team, miring the Knicks in 10+ years of mediocrity. Makes me wonder what kind of coach Peyton Manning would make.

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