November 9, 2011
NFL, Supreme Court Share View on Message Control
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about a unique-angle NFL video coverage that is shared on a very limited basis. The video, known as "All-22," shows the whole field and every player. The angle thus allows viewers to see everything, from defensive and offensive alignments to each player's actions during a play.
The NFL apparently considered sharing the video (or otherwise selling it), but many football people objected to it. According to the article:
Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL's competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.
"I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job," he said. "It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with." Now an analyst for CBS, Casserly takes an hour-and-a-half train once a week to NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J. just to watch the All-22 film.
I suppose he could be right that there could be more criticisms of coaches and players if the video were released, but I'm not convinced. And, more important, it appears that with the All-22 video, the criticisms would be more accurate than they are currently. In fact, the article gives an example of a TV producer with access to the All-22 video who explained how an in-game analyst was wrong to blame a player for being "late" on a play, because the player was doing his job in the defensive scheme. The play call was right to beat the defensive scheme, and the offense executed the play.
Certainly, there might be a learning curve. Fans would need to understand that players and coaches make mistakes in every game and that one or two plays may not be a fair representation of the body of their work. But that's already true today. For every player or coach who might take unfair criticism, the All-22 video is likely to exonerate another (or provide credit where credit was actually due).
In some ways, I suppose this is like the the question of whether video cameras should be allowed in the United States Supreme Court. After all, in that case, people would be provided access to something they don't fully understand, and it might lead to unfair criticism of the Justices, lawyers, and the legal system. Still, regardless of your view of cameras at the Supreme Court, there is one big difference here: football is a game; it is, at it's core, entertainment.
So, NFL, entertain us. Let's see the All-22.
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