December 19, 2012

The Road to Easy Street in the NFL

Filed under: National Football League — Giorgio Varlaro @ 3:40 am
Supplied via Google Images

Supplied via Google Images

When athletic contests are decided by the slimmest of margins, consumers of sport expect its leagues and officials to maintain autonomy through rules. When these rules cannot be implemented properly a sense of hypocrisy arises.

In the NFL, where most of its contests are decided by one possession, fans expect a level playing field to be administered on a more consistent basis. To do this, the NFL must divulge more of its resources into new technologies. This is not an easy task with the league employing 125 officials, but as the leader of television ratings in the United States, you’re required step up and maintain autonomy when it’s needed.

One aspect of the game, ball placement, is one which comes up numerous times throughout a contest. It decides the outcome of games in fact. A way to increase the efficiency of where the ball is placed is with Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID). RFID tags were implemented last year in European Rugby with resounding success. Due to the similar nature in which the ball is moved in the field of play, RFID tags could have the same success in the NFL.

Where the device would be located is in the football itself, just like the rugby ball. According to engineers this would be an easy transition since three-dimensional object tracking is done every day and it’s easy to set up. A few high-speed cameras carefully positioned around the end zones and some ball-tracking software can get the job done making first downs calls, touchdowns and field goals easy to handle.

At this stage, introducing additional technology for NFL officials is more a business problem than anything else. It takes financial incentives and, ideally, league backing to turn entertainment, military, aerospace and other technologies into systems suitable for sports.

Furthermore, the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association provides for a Technology Committee. The committee would meet at least once a year to discuss effective ways to utilize technology to improve the game. The Technology Committee would give officials a greater voice in what is needed on the field and what might work best, but all final decisions still rest with NFL owners.



January 18, 2012

Candlestick No More…

Filed under: National Football League — Giorgio Varlaro @ 12:40 am

Supplied via Google Images

When the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants this weekend at Candlestick Park for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLVI, it could be the final playoff game the 49ers host in San Francisco.

The team has been looking to move to Santa Clara, California, 37 miles south of Candlestick, since the winter of 2007. In mid December (2011) the Santa Clara City Council voted 7-0 to approve plans to develop and pay for a new 68,500-seat stadium, down from 70,207 (at Candlestick Park).

Construction could begin as soon as next year, but the team still needs the City Council to sign off on an environmental impact report and then residents will have another chance to vote on whether to build the $937 million stadium. The city has agreed thus far to foot $79 million in costs ($42 million from the city’s Redevelopment Agency, $20 million to relocate a power substation and $17 million to build a 700-space parking garage). To help the city with its investment, the team has agreed to advance Santa Clara $12 million to be repaid when the economy rebounds and the NFL has agreed to invest $150 million.

Furthermore, the 49ers agreed to keep all revenue from ticket sales from games, ad revenue from NFL events, ticket premium fees for use of suites and club rooms for non-NFL events, and revenue from the team store. Santa Clara would get revenue from naming rights, net revenue from concession sales and parking lots, and annual rent payments from the team that would total roughly $40 million over the life of the contract.

It’s estimated that building and maintaining the stadium will generate 2,330 new jobs and $249 million in annual economic activity for the region. It’s also estimated that the city would receive $800,000 in annual tax revenue.

With the financial situation now revealed, approval could be the closest it has ever been since negotiations began in 2007. The recent success of the team could help as well.

If you’re interested in the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, check out the Web site made for the stadium at Once the team leaves Candlestick Park, they will leave 65 years of history and five Super Bowl championships.

October 27, 2011

Is Stem Cell Therapy Here to Stay?

Filed under: National Football League — Giorgio Varlaro @ 2:53 am

Supplied via Google Images

With the pressure of winning looming over every professional athletes head in today’s athletics, no athlete wants to let a teammate down. Due to this, many play hurt which has resulted in long lasting injuries which sometimes do not forth come until a professional is a decade or two beyond their playing days.

Some athletes recently have resorted to stem cell therapy to deal with nagging injuries in hopes of staying away from surgery. Two prominent names and professional football players are Peyton Manning and Terrell Owens. Over this past summer, each traveled outside of the United States with the intentions of having an injury taken care of.

Manning, who has already had two surgeries on his neck in the past five years, sought stem cell therapy in Europe with the hopes of avoiding a third surgical procedure.

Owens went to Asian and Korea after going under the knife to fix an ACL injury in late June. His intentions were to decrease the typical 12-month rehabilitation time associated with the injury.

As of today, both Manning and Owens are still not on the field. Manning still had to go under the knife a third time to fix a bulging disk, but Owens has recently held a workout for all 32 NFL teams. And from the looks of it, Owens seems to be able to pass a physical which is remarkable.

Stem Cell Therapy is considered a controversial medical treatment, thus why it’s not allowed to be practiced in the United States. Stem Cell Therapy involves injecting cells taken from the patient’s own body which are then put back into spots where an individual has injuries. The cells then repair the damage.

Web site:

June 15, 2011

Sabermetrics progressing in the NFL

Filed under: National Football League — Giorgio Varlaro @ 4:58 am

Supplied via Google Images

With the NFL still trying to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, fans of the game still need their fix of football. I came across an article on which determined the best pass protecting offensive linemen based on the formula [Sacks + (.075 x Hits) + (0.75 x Hurries) / Pass Pro Snaps] x 100. Called the ‘Pass Blocking Inefficiency formula’, it adds a players total amount of sacks to three quarters of hits and hurries which is then divided by the amount of snaps taken during a pass play and then multiplied by 100.

It’s a simple formula compared to some of the stats tallied within baseball, however this stat is interesting due to the fact that rating the success of an offensive linemen is difficult to do. With so many different variables to consider during a professional football game, it’s astonishing to find a tangible way to compare these athletes, especially when it relates to their ability to protect the quarterback.

The specific article read pertained to offensive tackles, which established Jake Long (Miami), Andrew Whitworth (Cincinnati), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (New York Jets), Joe Thomas (Cleveland), and Doug Free (Dallas) as the top pass protecting left tackles last season. As for right tackles, Sean Locklear (Seattle), Kareem Mackenzie (New York Giants), Eric Winston (Houston) , Marshal Yanda (Baltimore), and Damien Woody (New York Jets) where considered the best at their respective position.

The Web site has recently amassed a list of the best and worst pass protecting guards and centers last season, which finds pro bowlers Shaun O’Hara (New York Giants) and Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh) rated within the bottom 10, thus claiming flaws within these respected offensive linemen.

The incorporation of the ‘Pass Blocking Inefficiency  formula’ provides interesting statistics previously not available. Economics in football is still a new phenomena, but since Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball it’s hard not to take notice of the statistical side of professional sports.

Web site:

Blog at