Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Nov. 13-17

Welcome to Gridiron Tech, a weekly column highlighting the latest technology trends and how they’re impacting the football industry. In this edition, we take a look at how Sports Illustrated and ESPN are turning their attention to online video programming, plus a look at the newest NFL tourist attraction that is lighting up Times Square. 

SI dives into Amazon: Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated slashed its editorial staff in an attempt to shift its sports coverage from articles to predominantly video. Now, it’s launching an independent online video channel. Starting Nov. 16, Time, Inc., is launching Sports Illustrated TV (SITV) as its first-ever OTT channel available on Amazon. For $4.99 per month, viewers will be able to access 130 hours of movies, documentaries and original content programming. Original SITV shows will include, The Vault, SI: Under the Cover, and original weekly studio shows The Crossover, Planet Futbol and The Line. Oscar-nominated and award-winning sports filmmaker Mike Tollin, co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, and 10-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock have also been hired to produce two different sports documentary projects slated for 2018. The channel is available at Amazon.com/amazonchannels.

SportsCenter goes Snapchat: The jockeying for online digital platforms continues as ESPN has announced that its flagship show, SportsCenter, will now be available on Snapchat via their mobile app. The show will vary from its TV counterpart as hosts will dress more casually and program content will target the under 25-demographic. The move comes at a time where ESPN is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding from losing online cable subscribers, while Snap Inc., struggles to meet Wall Street growth expectations since its initial public offering in March. “A year ago we launched Snapchat shows, and currently have 30 to date,” said Sean Mills, Snapchat’s Head of Original Content. “We really wanted to reimagine SportsCenter for a new generation, while still keeping the DNA that makes the show what it is. In today’s world, especially with the younger generations, the ‘mobile screen is the first screen,’ and we’re making a significant investment in producing content for this medium.” Daily episodes will vary in length between 3-5 minutes and are scheduled to air at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET during the week and 5 a.m. ET on the weekends. 

Times Square welcomes NFL Experience: If you live in New York or are visiting for the holidays, be sure to check out the much-anticipated NFL Experience, which opens its doors this week in a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, which produces and operates the attraction. The project took 12 weeks of careful planning before construction could even begin, and now is composed of a 38,000-square-foot attraction housed in a 39-story, mixed-use high-rise. It includes a 188-seat, 4-D movie theater with motion-capable seats and weather effects that simulate NFL experiences from the athlete’s standpoint. The space also hosts interactive exhibits and simulated training drills, including running back and tackle challenges and a touchdown dance photo op that can be televised on a 2,120-square-foot digital display in Times Square. While the attraction is designed to draw fans to its interactive displays and technology features, its main purpose is to capitalize on the 26 million visitors who pass through the tourist section of the Big Apple each year. NFL memorabilia and merchandise will be on sale, in addition to food and beverage stands.

*Looking for more football industry news? Check out InsideTheLeague.com, which features inside information about the evolving world of sports agents, combine training and NFL Draft breaking news.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Nov. 6-10

This week in Gridiron Tech news, we take a look at how mainstream media outlets such as CBS and ESPN are preparing for the online streaming apocalypse, plus a breakdown of why Twitter has decided to take a plunge into the world of 280 character limits.

CBS goes livestream 24/7: In a move that is sure to be emulated by its competitors, CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves announced the launch of CBS Sports HQ. The new 24/7 livestream sports channel is expected to launch in the coming months and helps offset the alarming rate of cord-cutters while positioning CBS to compete for digital rights against rivals such as Amazon and Facebook. The licensing rights for obtaining exclusive sports content are soaring, which is why CBS Sports is preparing for what some are calling “the roaring twenties” of exclusive livestream sports packages. “What we see is an appetite of demand for consumers that want news and highlights of sports where we see a void in the marketplace,” CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello. “They want it on their terms, on their time. So we’re going to give that to them. We think the demographic is very attractive for advertising.”

Networks strike new cord: Not sold yet on the Over The Top (OTT) sports movement? According to a new survey by the Consumer Technology Association, more households are cutting the cord in 2017 than ever before. Over 1.5M households have cancelled their cable subscriptions through the first three quarters of the year. That’s a significant number which is only expected to increase further next year. The report also states that nearly 70% of Americans now subscribe to some sort of streaming service. The new evidence is forcing companies such as the aforementioned CBS to change the way they do business and shift their focus toward online streaming. Want more proof? ESPN also just announced preliminary plans to launch a stand-alone sports streaming service in 2018. It will not stream the same live content it shows on cable TV. Instead, it opens the door of opportunity for sports leagues to license some of their out-of-market games, which MLB has already agreed to do. It seems like every major media outlet is now angling to be a major player in obtaining exclusive rights to more livestream sports packages.

Twitter doubles down: Get used to longer Tweets. The much-anticipated move by Twitter to double the maximum user character count from 140 to 280 has officially taken full effect. According to a company blogpost, nine percent of tweets were reaching the maximum of 140 characters. During testing of the new 280-character limit, just one percent of tweets hit the max. The move is designed to make it easier for people to fit thoughts into a tweet so they can say what they want and send Tweets faster than before, which is great for reporters.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 30-Nov.3

Welcome to the Gridiron Tech blog here at Succeed In Football, where we keep tabs on how the latest technology is impacting the football world. 

Pack pays back with tech: In a partnership with Microsoft, the Green Bay Packers have invested $5 million dollars towards building a new “Titletown Tech” facility near Lambeau Field. The project is geared towards boosting the growth of startup tech companies in the community and helping revitalize the local economy. Green Bay CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged that the new facility would have a great economic impact in the region. “Titletown has gained a tremendously impactful partner in Microsoft,” Murphy said in a released statement. “Economic development is the key to our region’s future, and Microsoft, with its array of tools and expertise, will help grow new businesses as well as assist our existing companies to use technology to realize greater success.” The decision to move closer towards the technology era for the Packers, who are the only publicly owned NFL franchise, has been welcomed by the fans of Green Bay. With the emergence of eSports and technology in the NFL, it wouldn’t be surprising if more teams followed suit in years to come.

IOC considers eSports: Speaking of eSports, the rapid movement involving the sport of video games is gaining major momentum, not just in the football community but in the global sports world. Representatives recently met to discuss the role of eSports in future Olympic events and how implementing the “sport” could help generate increased interest amongst millennials. We have seen NFL owners such as Robert Kraft (Patriots), Stan Kroenke (Rams) and Jerry Jones (Cowboys) invest up to $20 million each for an eSports franchise. This past April, the University of Utah became the first Power Five school to offer a varsity eSports program. For those of you who thought playing Madden Football on the latest console was all fun and games, it may be time to change how we perceive eSports.

Big Ten embraces live streaming: The emergence of online streaming content deals has been well documented in this column, as we have examined the impact of the AmazonPrime TNF package. We have also seen the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA strike deals on the collegiate level. Add the Big Ten to the growing list of NCAA conferences looking to capitalize on livestream licensing rights. The announced partnership with FloSports is a four-year deal that will grant FloSports the exclusive right to livestream over 1,000 events (that otherwise wouldn’t be televised) on their subscription-based online service. While many of the B1G football games are televised, the conference intends to make other sporting events more accessible on FloSports, with channels such as FloWrestling, FloTrack, FloVolleyball and FloHoops. While livestream deals initially took some time to catch on, you can be sure that every sport, conference and event will have some sort of online content licensing agreement in place by this time next year. Failure to do so would mean ignoring an entire new revenue stream that is currently exploding.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 23-27

Last week here at the Gridiron Tech blog, we examined how five NFL franchises have become early adapters to augmented reality (AR) technology. In this edition, we learn that yet another team has incorporated AR into its stadium, plus we take a look at how virtual reality (VR) played a role in Syracuse’s upset of Clemson and an update on the latest Amazon Prime figures for the Thursday Night Football livestream package.

Niners embrace AR: San Francisco has redefined the meaning of a souvenir cup. Earlier this month, in a partnership with ampm convenience stores, the team began selling augmented reality souvenir cups at Levi Stadium. Fans who download the 49ers team app are then able to hold their mobile device over the cup and watch San Francisco Super Bowl highlights or player videos. In addition to the content available via the cups, fans also receive 49-cent fountain refills at participating ampm locations all season long. It’s the latest attempt by organizations to keep fans more engaged when they attend a sporting event. This initiative incorporates new technology while also collecting fans’ personal info so the team can entice with future offerings.

Virtual Reality goes Orange: After knocking off the defending champion Clemson Tigers, the Syracuse Orangemen can also stake claim as the top football program in the nation to utilize virtual reality. Those lucky fans unable to attend the game and storm the field after the win can now relive the moment in VR. That’s because the game was captured by cameras in full 360-degrees, which gives fans a complete view of everything occurring in the stadium, as if they were sitting in the front row. In 2015, the Orange partnered with EON Sports to implement VR training for their players. Starting quarterback Eric Dungey has been using the technology for additional preparation. “It’s basically like going through practice again,” Dungey said. “I love going through practice. I love practicing so it’s basically like doing that all over again, but it’s easier on the body. You know, you kind of just get mental reps.” The extra practice paid off, as Dungey totaled 339 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over the Tigers.

Amazon Prime results are in: We have previously chronicled the TNF livestream experiment by Amazon Prime in this space and wanted to provide an interesting update on its reach and impact. Through four simulcasts, the e-commerce giant has an average minute audience (AMA) of 374K viewers with an average viewing time of 51.25 minutes, according to this report. Each game reached viewers in more than 180 countries. Amazon continues to be aggressive in the marketplace, acquiring the video rights to ATP tennis in UK and audio feeds for Bundesliga soccer games. The next move for the NFL could be to offer the TNF package as a multi-year deal, which would be very appealing to the Amazon brand. We will continue to provide updates on the latest livestream deals as they develop.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 16-20

Gridiron Tech is a weekly feature here at Succeed In Football that takes a look into how technology is influencing the football landscape. In this edition, we investigate how NFL teams are utilizing new fan engagement technologies to help enhance the ‘stadium experience’ and creating software aimed at attracting loyal fans.

Augmented Reality next for NFL: The Pokémon Go brand put augmented reality (AR) on the map last year, which prompted the NFL to ask itself, how do we incorporate the latest phenomenon into a user experience? Mobile developer Yinzcam and digital agency Float Hybrid may have the answer. They’ve created software that enables fans to ‘virtually’ paint their face with their favorite team’s colors or put on an NFL helmet and take a selfie, which can then be shared on social media instantly. The Broncos were the first team to offer this on their team app at the end of last year. This season, the Texans and Eagles have also partnered with the mobile developers, according to a statement. “We are hyper-focused on leveraging innovative technologies to create memorable moments that drive emotional connections with consumers,” Keith Bendes, Float Hybrid’s VP of marketing and strategic partnerships, said in the statement. The new AR software has drawn an official sponsor in Bud Light and has since caught the attention of other NFL teams. It would come as no surprise to see all 32 franchises with this offering by next season.

“Fan Cams” meet football: NFL teams are constantly exploring for additional ways to supplement the stadium experience and make it more interactive for the fans. In today’s “Look at me” culture created by social media, it’s crucial to keep fans entertained and involved. Boston-based company Brizi recognizes that, which is why it created robotic cameras capable of taking a fan’s picture on demand. With Brizi’s technology, a fan using a smartphone can control the robotic camera in the venue and have a picture taken that can be shared in near real-time. Thus far, the company has partnered with the NBA, U.S. Open and Australian Open. However, due to larger stadiums, Brizi is still trying to figure out the logistics of partnering with NFL teams. The solution seems to be using more than one camera. Brizi claims that 74% of fans who attend a sporting event snap a photo, and while several teams currently offer panoramic fan shots, they usually aren’t available until the next day. The ability to take a picture or video on demand and instantly upload it to social media is an enticing stadium enhancement but also a way to increase revenue. The camera also records user data of each fan that requests a photo, which can then be used later on to send them future offerings such as a game ticket or merchandise.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 9-13

We’re back with another sports technology blog, examining some of the latest developments in the sports technology industry and how it impacts the football landscape. Here is the latest news from this past week.

Cruz’s tech views: While former NFL receiver Victor Cruz ponders his next move post-playing days, it sounds as if the sports tech arena has his attention. He was recently asked to speak at an Advertising Week event in New York on how mobile technology and data are influencing the future of sports. Regarding virtual reality, Cruz is excited about what’s ahead. “I think just me, from a fan perspective, if I’m able to put on a headset, the VR headset, and be at the 50-yard line to watch Eli Manning at the 30 and I’m behind him and I can see the entire (play)—in real-time—that’s a game-changer,” Cruz said. He also said he believes Instagram has increased fan engagement. “To be able to be somewhere live and stream it, and everyone can tune into your live channel and see where you are, and pretty much walk up to you if they’re a block away or two blocks away, I think that’s also a game-changer.” Don’t be surprised if we hear from Cruz again on these topics in the near future.

NFL brings back NextVR: Speaking of virtual reality, the NFL and NextVR are back for a second season to bring fans an immersive post-game experience, featuring highlights from five 2017 NFL regular-season games. The show will be hosted by former NFL running back Reggie Bush and broadcast personality Elika Sadeghi. Each post-game highlight will ​showcase the best VR moments from the game and be available to fans on demand. Content will be available for free to fans worldwide on the NFL channel in the NextVR app following each scheduled VR game. The move signals the NFL’s interest in expanding its VR capabilities, though the league is still in the experimentation phase. Games scheduled for broadcast for NFL VR are as follows:

  • Packers at Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 15
  • Chargers at Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 29
  • Cowboys at Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 12
  • Broncos at Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 26
  • Cowboys at Giants, Sunday, Dec. 10

Amazon releases TNF totals: We previously discussed how Amazon paid $50M for streaming rights to the NFL Thursday Night Football package, five times more than what Twitter paid last year. So, what did it earn them? Amazon reports that Amazon Prime Video, broadcasting the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and Thursday Night Football, reached 1.7 million combined viewers in 184 countries and territories and all 50 states, with an average worldwide audience watching for at least thirty seconds hitting 391,000. That’s a mega worldwide demographic, which is probably why Amazon is charging $2.8M for ad packages, according to Reuters. In comparison, the average viewership on Twitter during the 10 live-streamed games was 266,000 last season.

Parting Shot: Social media can be a useful resource for breaking news, as it happens. At the same time, it can also be a very dangerous and costly tool. We often preach to young athletes about the penalties for social media misuse but the warning should be heeded by everyone. The latest example comes from 24-year NFL veteran OL coach Chris Foerster of the Miami Dolphins. A video featuring Foerster went viral Sunday night, which shows him talking into his cell-phone camera before snorting three lines of powdery substance and then stating he was off to a meeting. It didn’t take him long to become an ex-Dolphins coach. Here’s a good rule of thumb to adhere to: assume everything in your phone can/will be hacked. Assume everything on social media can/will be viewed, even if you delete it. So, the next time you hit send, post or record, ask yourself, would I want the world to see this?

Thank you for reading. Be sure to check back at Succeed In Football for weekly sports tech updates, football industry trends and latest news updates. Do you work in football and are looking for an edge? Be sure to visit our partner site: www.InsideTheLeague.com!

2017 Total Former Draftees Still Active, by Team

For the last three years, we’ve totaled up the number of active NFL players drafted by all 32 NFL teams and listed them by total. We’ve seen it as a ‘stealth’ predictor of regular-season success, and a decent indicator of which teams will make the postseason.

Admittedly, this year, the numbers don’t support our three-year theory this year.

As we look at the totals for all 32 teams, the top five teams are quite the surprise. While there have been some surprise teams in the top 10 the last couple years (see 2015’s results here and 2016 here), this year, the top five teams are decidedly not looking like playoff participants barring a serious surge.

Cincinnati (60), San Francisco (54), Baltimore (52), Green Bay (51) and Oakland (51) are the first five teams in draftee totals. Their cumulative record so far is 8-12. Granted, it’s early, and only two of the teams (Cincinnati at 1-3 and San Francisco at 0-4) have losing records. Still, 8-12 is something less than a ringing endorsement of our study.

My theory is that this year is an anomaly because, in most cases, these teams are struggling with weak quarterback play. I’ve previously discussed how play under center can adversely or positively affect a team’s success, and also what percentage of a team’s success is dependent on the starting signal-caller. Four of the five teams’ starting QBs are in the bottom five of ESPN’s season rankings. The other quarterback is Aaron Rodgers of 3-1 Green Bay.

Here are a few thoughts on the rest of the full list.

  • While the buzz around the league is that analytics are the next wave, maybe the next wave should actually be letting your coaches do the bulk of your scouting, as the Bengals have always done. There are other teams that rely on the coaches to help in the decision process (the Broncos come to mind), the Bengals are the clear leaders.
  • Speaking of Denver, the Broncos are No. 6 with 50. Then it’s the Cowboys (49), Eagles (48), Texans (47), and the Browns (yes, the Browns) and Seahawks (tied at 46). Keep in mind that Cleveland’s new draft philosophy is to stockpile picks and hope for the best, so the Browns’ totals are a little skewed.
  • Turns out 45 former draftees active in the league is the median number. Four teams (the Lions, Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Redskins) are tied with 45 former draftees still in the league.
  • Last year’s Super Bowl combatants, the Patriots and Falcons, finished No. 20 and 28, respectively. Again, I think the numbers are tainted by the fact that the Patriots have arguably the best quarterback ever and the Falcons had the 2016 NFL MVP under center.
  • Rounding out the bottom five with the Falcons with 28 draftees were the Colts and Saints, who each tied at 28. The Chargers were 31 with 31 draftees and the Bears were last with 28 draftees. Here’s where the numbers really checked out. The only two of the last five teams with non-winning records are the Falcons (3-1) and the Saints at 2-2.

Here’s the full list:

Team Total draftees
Cincinnati Bengals 60
San Francisco 49ers 54
Baltimore Ravens 52
Green Bay Packers 51
Oakland Raiders 51
Denver Broncos 50
Dallas Cowboys 49
Philadelphia Eagles 48
Houston Texans 47
Cleveland Browns 46
Seattle Seahawks 46
Detroit Lions 45
Kansas City Chiefs 45
Miami Dolphins 45
Pittsburgh Steelers 45
Washington Redskins 45
Carolina Panthers 43
Tennessee Titans 43
Minnesota Vikings 42
New England Patriots 42
Arizona Cardinals 40
Los Angeles Rams 40
Buffalo Bills 39
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 39
New York Jets 37
Jacksonville Jaguars 33
New York Giants 33
Atlanta Falcons 32
Indianapolis Colts 32
New Orleans Saints 32
Los Angeles Chargers 31
Chicago Bears 28

 

Ask The Scouts: How Do Injuries Affect Draft Status?

It has been a while since the last entry in our Ask The Scouts series, so we thought we’d pose an interesting question to our friends in the business and get their responses. This week, we asked about the impact of medical history on draft status:

How many prospects would you say are either (a) lowered down the draft board or (b) marked as almost undraftable, simply due to injuries/health rather than ability? 

Here are a few responses.

  • “Probably about 100.”
  • “I would say guys that are affected by injuries yearly would be in the 40-50 range, as far as losing value due to them. Think we might end up with around 15 on he average being completely off the board, then 30-35 might lose some value.”
  • “I would be afraid to take a wild guess. That is usually done right before the draft by the medical staffs and players vary from team to team. Player A may be off the board for one team but on the board for another according to what their doctors say.”
  • “My guess would be 20-25%, maybe 33%,of prospects have some type of physical issue that needs to be considered in determining ultimate value. Any prospect that has had a major surgery is tagged. Any prospect that has games missed in multiple seasons is tagged even though they may be minor surgeries. Those prospects who get hurt this year who will be unable to be full speed for mini-camps are also tagged.”

This turned out to be a productive question that garnered many responses. We’ve got several more responses in our Friday Wrap, which goes out to about 4,000 people in the football world — agents, scouts (and ex-scouts), financial advisors, active NFL players, prospects and their parents, and many others associated with the game.

It’s totally free, and it comes out (surprise, surprise) every Friday afternoon. Interested in receiving it? Sign up here. And welcome aboard!

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Sept. 25-29

With fewer viewers watching NFL games on TV, the race for online video content amongst social media heavyweights is on. The NFL remains the most valuable programming in the United States, and while Facebook recently unveiled Facebook Watch, a new platform for shows, Amazon Prime has been at the forefront with its Over-The-Top content (OTT). Here’s a look at some of the latest developments from this week:

TNF comes to Amazon: Earlier this year, Amazon won the rights to stream the NFL Thursday Night Football package to the tune of $50M, which was significantly more than the $10M Twitter paid the previous year. They outbid companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook. TNF kicks off on Amazon Prime tonight, with the Bears visiting the Packers. It’s the first of 11 streamed games that will be made available to their millions of subscribers across the globe, which includes over 200 countries. Some of the branded programming content includes the Amazon TNF Kickoff Show featuring Tiki Barber and celebrity chef Curtis Stone and Trivia with Alexa, in tandem with Amazon’s custom viewing boxes. The brown boxes, colored like a football, have a “Thursday Night Football” logo and a “Stream Live with Prime Membership” bug. With the 2018 TNF streaming package soon up for bid, you can be sure their competitors will be watching closely to determine how much this NFL offering is actually worth. If last year’s negotiation is any indication, the bid for next year’s rights could exceed $100M. 

NFL, Facebook partner: The NFL and Facebook announced a multi-year deal Tuesday to deliver official NFL video and other types of content to fans around the world. The NFL will publish NFL Game Recaps and official highl​ights from all 256 regular-season games (as well as the playoffs and Super Bowl) that will be available globally on Facebook. In addition, NFL Media, the League’s owned and operated media division, will distribute uniquely packaged content from its award-winning production arm, NFL Films, on Facebook’s Watch platform. NFL Turning Point, Sound FX and NFL Game Recaps will be posted each week during the NFL season and will be available to people in the U.S. on Watch. “We’re excited for Watch to become a destination for NFL fans to catch up on the latest on-field action and connect with one another,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships, in a released statement. “These full-game recaps and shows will deliver comprehensive coverage while enabling the active NFL fan communities on Facebook to watch and debate the top storylines from each week.”

Head help ahead: In other NFL-related tech news, the league announced that it has awarded a total of $426,000 in grants to three firms as part of its HeadHealthTECH Challenge, which is designed to advance improvements in those areas. Baytech Products of Asheville, N.C., was awarded a $178,000 grant to build and test its prototype HitGard, a multi-component helmet system. Also receiving $148,000 will be Windpact of Leesburg, Va., to support prototyping and testing of its Crash Cloud, an impact liner system using restricted air flow and foam in helmets. Getting $100,000 will be 2ND Skull of Pittsburgh, Pa., to further evaluate the effectiveness of its skull cap in reducing impact forces and developing a second-generation version. Launched in November 2016, the TECH Challenge series is operated and managed on behalf of Football Research Inc., by Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Scouts on Scouting: Kebric, Kingdon Answer Our Questions (Pt. 3)

Today, we offer the final segment of our three-part series with former Raiders scouts Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric,  two of the co-authors of Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield.

Do you think Al Davis would follow the trend of hiring young people with minimal football background or would he seek more experienced scouts for his staff?

Kingdon: Outside of Ron Wolf, Bruce Kebric and myself, the scouting department was primarily comprised of former players so I imagine he would have continued that process.

Kebric: No. He wanted experience and expertise.

What’s the biggest mistake a team can make in scouting and evaluation?

Kingdon: It’s important that a scout have a conviction in his opinions. I worked with a scout that would change his grade from a second round to a seventh round to a third round depending on what was the latest report that he heard. It’s a lot easier to defend your own opinion than someone else’s. A scout needs to be strong enough to admit when he is wrong and strong enough to admit when he is right. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Scouting is the process of humans evaluating humans so by definition, you are going to be wrong sometimes. Just learn from your mistakes. If you make a mistake, make it a mistake of commission, not omission.

Kebric: Hiring friends and “yes” people. You need people who do the work, stand up for their convictions, but are willing to admit a mistake. The best advice that I ever received came from a veteran coach who  early on in my career said, “Believe your eyes, not your ears.”

The spread offense has created challenges for scouts, especially when it comes to evaluating the OL and QBs. How would Al have dealt with this challenge?

Kingdon: Scouting is scouting. Probably the same issues came up when teams were running the wishbone, wing T and run and shoot offenses.

Kebric: I think that the lack of patience more than the collegiate offenses is the primary problem. Players at these two positions are immediately put on the field today instead of being given two or three years to learn the NFL game.  I watch Aaron Rodgers and wonder what his career would have been like if he had been forced to play immediately.  Everyone wants instant success.  Years ago, teams had three- and five-year plans; now it is one and two.  My first two years with the Oilers, our record was 2-26.  The next two it was 17-11 and then it was on to “Luv Ya Blue.”  Do you think we would have been around for Year 3 today?

In Al’s final days with the Raiders, the team didn’t enjoy a lot of success. The same could be said for a lot of the game’s legends (Beathard, Landry, others). Is there a shelf life for success in the NFL? 

Kingdon: There’s no way to come up with a palatable answer to this question.

Kebric: Merely a lack of patience on Al’s part. His mounting health problems created a desire for instant success and as the book mentions, he never recovered from the loss in the 2003 Super Bowl. Al won three championships with two coaches over a 19-year period. After that, he was making near bi-annual changes with both his head coaches and the offensive scheme (Vertical vs. West Coast).