The Washington Americans

19 June 2014 » Football, Politics

This week presented yet another opportunity to suggest a proposal to rename the Washington Redskins to something less controversial. As I see it, the “Washington Americans” makes the most sense.

It removes a racial slur from the name, expands the appeal of the team to represent the capital city (as a kid, I thought the team hailed from Washington state), and it requires little – if any – change to the existing uniform and logo.

I’m not sure if I’m the first one who came up with the idea, but I’ve sent messages via the redskins.com feedback form a couple of times over the past 10 years.

December 2005

Greetings,

Congrats on the win today, and good luck next week at Seattle.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on your team name. I enjoy the history of the team, and the logo and colors. However, every time I hear the word “redskin,” I cringe (and it’s not just because I’m a New York Giants fan :).

My suggestion is to seize the opportunity and rename the team the Washington Americans. You would honor both native-American heritage, and unify that with your home in the nation’s capital.

Just a suggestion. And again, good luck… Unless you face the Giants in the NFC Championship. :)

December 2009

Greetings,

I wrote a similar note about four years ago through redskins.com, and after watching the prime time Sunday night game last night, I thought I’d write again.

I wanted to share my thoughts on your team name. I enjoy the history of the team, and the logo and colors. However, every time I hear the word “redskin,” I cringe (and it’s not just because I’m a New York Giants fan :).

My suggestion is to seize an opportunity and rename the team the Washington *Americans* without a change to logo or team colors. You’d continue to recognize native-American heritage and team history yet also strengthen the team’s association with your home in the nation’s capital.

Furthermore, by using the name “Americans” by itself, without any hyphenated prefix suggesting exclusion or exception such as “Native-,” makes a statement that all US football fans are united as a single nation with a common history.

Of course, this is just my suggestion. But, in what’s looking to be an off season full of change, I think you have a golden opportunity to break with a negative aspect of the past and look to a greater future of the franchise here.

If you could float the idea by Daniel Snyder I’d very much appreciate it.

I’ve also shared the idea a couple of times on Twitter to a positive reception.

Putting aside whoever it was that first came up with the suggestion to rename the team to the Americans, it’s at least a positive starting point to find common ground in this controversy.

It addresses the most offensive part of the name, reduces the cost of change to logo and uniform, and it expands representation of the city and the sport of American Football during this dreadful onslaught of World Cup “football.” :)

An alternate history of Super Bowl matchups

16 January 2013 » Football, History, Thoughts

The NFL’s conference championship (semifinal) games always capture my imagination.

In many cases, it’s where the two best teams in the league face off, even if they still move on to face a weak opponent from the other conference in a largely ceremonial Super Bowl. Most of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboy match ups from the early 1990s fall into this category. So these conference games represent the de facto league championship game.

In other cases, there are some teams that just can’t catch a break, like the Cleveland Browns or New York Jets, despite numerous, and often successive, championship game appearances. Without at least a Super Bowl appearance, these teams fall by the wayside of NFL history.

The forgotten championship
In all cases, the loser quickly disappears from the public’s memory – unlike the Super Bowl participants who have at least a moment’s glory on the national stage – despite an excellent season up to that point.

Do you remember how dominant the Browns were in the late 1980s? Or the Los Angeles Rams in the late 1970s?

A second chance at three hours
I often contemplate what NFL history could have looked like, had the NFC and AFC championship games gone the other way and the losers instead advanced to the Super Bowl.

See the full results below, starting with the 1970 season, with the winner shown in bold. I assume the conference that won the real Super Bowl also wins the alternate match up, though admittedly this is unlikely in several match ups. My observations follow the results.

Super Bowl        AFC team NFC team
V Oakland Raiders San Francisco 49ers
VI Baltimore Colts San Francisco 49ers
VII Pittsburgh Steelers Dallas Cowboys
VII Oakland Raiders Dallas Cowboys
IX Oakland Raiders Los Angeles Rams
X Oakland Raiders Los Angeles Rams
XI Pittsburgh Steelers Los Angeles Rams
XII Oakland Raiders Minnesota Vikings
XIII Houston Oilers Los Angeles Rams
XIV Houston Oilers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
XV San Diego Chargers Dallas Cowboys
XVI San Diego Chargers Dallas Cowboys
XVII New York Jets Dallas Cowboys
XVIII Seattle Seahawks San Francisco 49ers
XIX Pittsburgh Steelers Chicago Bears
XX Miami Dolphins Los Angeles Rams
XXI Cleveland Browns Washington Redskins
XXII Cleveland Browns Minnesota Vikings
XXIII Buffalo Bills Chicago Bears
XXIV Cleveland Browns Los Angeles Rams
XXV Los Angeles Raiders San Francisco 49ers
XXVI Denver Broncos Detroit Lions
XXVII Miami Dolphins San Francisco 49ers
XXVIII Kansas City Chiefs San Francisco 49ers
XXIX Pittsburgh Steelers Dallas Cowboys
XXX Indianapolis Colts Green Bay Packers
XXXI Jacksonville Jaguars Carolina Panthers
XXXII Pittsburgh Steelers San Francisco 49ers
XXXIII New York Jets Minnesota Vikings
XXXIV Jacksonville Jaguars Tampa Bay Buccaneers
XXXV Oakland Raiders Minnesota Vikings
XXXVI Pittsburgh Steelers Philadelphia Eagles
XXXVII Tennessee Titans Philadelphia Eagles
XXXVIII Indianapolis Colts Philadelphia Eagles
XXXIX Pittsburgh Steelers Atlanta Falcons
XL Denver Broncos Carolina Panthers
XLI New England Patriots New Orleans Saints
XLII San Diego Chargers Green Bay Packers
XLIII Baltimore Ravens Philadelphia Eagles
XLIV New York Jets Minnesota Vikings
XLV New York Jets Chicago Bears
XLVI Baltimore Ravens San Francisco 49ers

Some observations

  • The New York Giants never reach the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots appear only once (and win).
  • The Vikings, Lions, Eagles, Chargers, Oilers, Panthers and Seahawks each win at least one Super Bowl.
  • San Francisco still wins 5 Super Bowls, but also loses 3 times. Oakland wins 5 (including 3 in a row, which has never happened in Super Bowl history) and loses two.
  • The Browns make it to 3 Super Bowls but lose all of them. The Jets make 4 but win only one.
  • There is an expansion team meeting the year after both new teams joined the league, when the Carolina Panthers defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys still meet two times.
  • The Bears go 3-0, representing the best overall Super Bowl record.
  • The Buffalo Bills still don’t win a game.
  • There are lots of interesting local rivalries. Los Angeles and Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Philadelphia and Baltimore, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.

It would also be interesting to consider alternate MVPs, though I’d limit this to quarterbacks, since defensive or special teams players reflect a strong individual performance rather than the overall team strength. Kenny Stabler and Joe Montana would probably lead the MVP tally.

Predictive analytics for football play outcomes

30 April 2012 » Football, IBM, Writing

Inspired by the NFL playoffs in January, I wrote an invention disclosure on how to merge player statistics with current field conditions to yield a visual probability of how a play might turn out.

The end result I envisioned was that you could watch the game on television as a spectator (or in real time as a competing coach) to see what the outcome the system predicted at the start of a field goal or 3rd down pass, for example.

As a sports fan the technology adds value to what broadcasters currently provide with digital first down markers and 3D play analysis.

As a coach, you could confidently plan what your next play would be. If the likelihood of scoring a touchdown was high, you could more quickly decide whether to kick the extra point or go for a two-point conversion ahead of time.

Beyond American football, the technology could be applied to many other situations, such as ice hockey, as well as non athletic events.

  • Example Embodiment #1: Field Goal
    In the NFL, a place kicker lines up to attempt a field goal. Using statistical data about the player (his history of successful field goals from this distance in this stadium) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the field, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing solid orange where the kick is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability). This provides a good indication where the kick will end up, and whether it will be successful. (Figure 1)

    Figure 1: Likely outcome of field goal attempt in this context
    Example Embodiment #1: Field Goal

  • Example Embodiment #2: Pass Play
    In the NFL, a quarterback has his team lined up in a pass formation. Using statistical data about the player (his history of passes from this field position in this stadium) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the field, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing orange where the ball is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability) and yellow highlights the probable receiver. This provides a good indication where the pass will end up, or to which player he will pass. (Figure 2)

    Figure 2: Likely receiver of the pass and field position of the catch in this context
    Example Embodiment #2: Pass Play

  • Example Embodiment #3: Hockey shootout
    In the National Hockey League (NHL), a hockey game has goes into overtime and comes to a shootout to determine the winner. Using statistical data about the player (his history of one on one shots against this goalie in this venue) as well as sensor or other real time data about conditions on the ice, the system overlays a heat map onto the image on the television screen, showing orange where the puck is likely to go (and fading opacity farther away from the center based on the probability). This provides a good indication where the player will shoot.

IBM decided not to pursue a patent, but published the idea to protect the intellectual property. The full article is available behind a paywall at IP.com.

Would be interesting if this serves as prior art for any later invention that gets implemented.

Interesting links of the week

31 January 2008 » Football, Friends, IBM, PHP, Politics, Zend

Well, not exactly this week. I gathered a few links from the end of January that I figured would have some blogworthiness to them.

Instead of dedicating a whole post to each, here they are with a bit of commentary.

First up, because it’s my sister’s first appearance on TV, are Mona‘s remarks to local news in St. Louis on what the female demographic means to this year’s presidential campaigns. While it is a Fox affiliate, congrats are still in order. :)

Yossi Leon announced that Zend Studio for Eclipse was tantalizing close to release. We heard a few more details at NYPHP about its launch. The Zend page carries the official announcement.

If you’re wondering exactly how the new Zend Studio for Eclipse differs from the Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools), this chart breaks it all down.

Jon Udell backs up my “.htm is dogsqueeze” argument in his much more eloquent .NET-specific rant, .aspx considered harmful.

I caught a glance of this article on naming the Triborough Bridge for Robert F. Kennedy in the New York Times.

I too am a little weary of the Kennedy badge on so many public buildings, but have an alternate suggestion… Rename the bridge for John F. Kennedy, and rechristen his namesake disaster of an airport for someone worthy of its reputation for mismanagement, George W. Bush.

And finally, though it pains me greatly to see Tom Brady’s name on a Web site I lovingly crafted for all that is good, there is an interesting press release on how IBM and the NFL have gone about making all those random stats available to announcers in real time.

That about wraps it up. Enjoy the weekend, I know I will.

Post-mortem: The 2006 New York Giants

08 January 2007 » Football, Potpourri

It seems the 1990 season of good breaks finally caught up with the Giants. That year, everything went right for Big Blue, from a last minute bomb from backup Jeff Hostetler against Phoenix to a missed field goal by Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood in the Super Bowl.

This year, they were finally put out of their penalty-ridden, injury-laden misery by the Eagles on a last second kick by David Akers in the first round of the NFC playoffs. Which is for the best, I think, because my blood pressure can return to normal and I can again enjoy watching football in the coming weeks.

Without Tiki Barber, the offense will be missing one of the best backs in the NFL, but by trading Eli Manning (please!) for one or more more promising offensive players, I’m sure the Giants can put together a more disciplined unit in 2007. Maybe even behind short yardage star Jared “The Hefty Lefty” Lorenzen… :)

Old school

02 January 2006 » Football, Potpourri

Doug Flutie makes the first drop kick in 64 years. Amazing. This is particularly freaky since I was reading this article in the December issue of Maxim the day before while waiting for a haircut.

This alternative to a place kick is still technically legal – players behind the line of scrimmage can boot an impromptu field goal at any time. Old NFL footballs resembled a rugby ball, allowing for controlled bounces, and guys like Jim Thorpe kicked it regularly. The Bears’ Ray McLean converted it last on a PAT in the NFL championship game in 1941. Hey, Vanderjagt, why not kick like a real man?

Twenty-eight straight

01 November 2005 » Football

The Trinity College football team extended its winning streak to 28 games with a 14-0 win over the Middlebury College Panthers. The streak is the nation’s longest in Division III and second only to USC (29 entering today) in all of college football. The win also gives Trinity 499 wins in its 120-year football history.”

Wow. The team wasn’t that bad back when I was playing (Best Record in NESCAC, 1996), but that is out of control. :)