November 8, 2011

The "All-22" footage that the NFL won't let you see.

The WSJ explains about those camera shots "from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play" which are most useful for understanding the plays and never shown on TV.
While this shot makes the players look like stick figures, it allows students of the game to see things that are invisible to TV watchers: like what routes the receivers ran, how the defense aligned itself and who made blocks past the line of scrimmage....

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith's throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn't late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

35 comments:

ndspinelli said...

No sport controls their message and image like the NFL. This is a great example.

Scott M said...

The opposite of the wide angle, see-everything shot is also true. There's no option to zoom in and watch only the battle that's ongoing between that left guard and the defensive tackle across from him.

One of the truly great things about playing football, as opposed to watching it on tv, is that while the average play lasts only seconds, during that time there are 11 minor battles going on, intimately, between opposing positions. There's drama aplenty in these skirmishes, but we never get to see any but what's going on around the ball itself...and even at that, we're getting only the very tip of the iceberg.

Henry said...

In the old days you used to get overhead shots in some of the domed stadiums, just for variation, I imagine. I always appreciated that view.

FloridaSteve said...

I've been saying or years that I love live games for one reason only. I can see the entire play develop. If there was a special access channel (even for a fee) I be happy to pay for a view to the coaches cam. It's hugely important if you like the x's and o's of the game which thanks to games like madden football is growing all the time.

FloridaSteve said...

Scott M you make an excellent point. I'm a Defensive junky. I'd love an iso cam on the d-en or the linebackers. That is and option I would gladly pay for.

Tibore said...

Chris Brown from Smartfootball.com had this take on the NFL's stance:

"The proffered reason — that it would result in too much criticism — is so silly that it can’t possibly be true. But if it’s not true, then what is the real reason? I struggle with this (though I shouldn’t overlook the Occam’s razor-esque possibility that it’s simply that the people with decisionmaking authority over these kinds of things at the NFL are not intelligent, thoughtful people and do it for no real reason at all), as the only apparently conclusion is that it’s simply to insult the intelligence of fans and people who enjoy football. In short, it leaves two possibilities: first, either we really would fail to comprehend the complex array of movement on the field by twenty-two supremely athletic but human men, and thus we need the gentle paternalism of the cameraman and producer to show us, in a kind of cinematic baby talk, “See, with this close-up the quarterback throws a pretty spiral to the receiver!”; or, second, football isn’t even a game so much as it is a product to be branded in a particular way, and by restricting the All-22 the NFL can by Orwellian imagery of extreme close-ups and slow-motion shots emotionally convey to us the narratives solely how they want to in the way they want to. In either case, it’s all about controlling the message; the only question is why, and all the answers are depressing."

LarsPorsena said...

The HD views of the field and action are great but they are offset by
the long and frequent commercials.

Even with an all-22 view, the commercials are killing my interest.

Bob Ellison said...

So some NFL footage exists that would bore almost all game-watchers. The NFL tested the idea of marketing it. The test bombed, but some ex-player says it'd be a huge hit. Yeah, that's a BIG story with a conspiracy angle.

Is the Wall Street Journal aware of the fact that NFL football is an entertainment industry?

Psychedelic George said...

I lost interest in watching football and baseball years back when "TV timeouts" were introduced.

They totally destroy the rhythm of games.

Tank said...

Although the technology was not nearly as good, I remember film night from when I was on my high school team lo those many years ago. Watching the full field view does give you a much different look at the game, and an appreciation for everything that's going on. On the other hand, there's not much detail at all.

Those film nights were some of the best times I had in high school. The camaraderie in that room, watching great (and bad) plays over and over [and busting your friends chops] was the best.

It is hard to understand why they don't occassionally cut to this kind of view. Used sparingly, I think it would be great, and really interesting. Used too much, it would bore most viewers.

Anyone who thinks that the people running the NFL are dopes hasn't been paying attention.

Tibore said...

And I HATE this statement (from the originally linked 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.
.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, BULLSHIT!! Since when is concealing context and the full story preventing "misinformation"? And how is it helping them know "the full story"? For every situation Casserly is whining about, there will be multiple situations where inaccuracies are cleared up. Such as the one Greg Cosell pointed out!

Charlie Brown from Smart Football had it right. This is the NFL paternalistically insulting their customers' intelligence. I can't tell you just how irritated I am over their stance on this.

ndspinelli said...

Psych, You must have stopped watching 50 years ago!

MadisonMan said...

19:1

That's my predicted ratio of male comments to female comments in this thread.

I can comment a lot to make it come true, if necessary.

Ann Althouse said...

"I lost interest in watching football and baseball years back when "TV timeouts" were introduced. They totally destroy the rhythm of games."

Get a DVR and make your own rhythm. That's what we do. Makes going to a game in person pretty boring by contrast.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's my predicted ratio of male comments to female comments in this thread."

The Althouse blog always has more male than female comments. You know men: talk, talk, talk.

ndspinelli said...

No...men type, type, type!

Beth said...

After having to listen to Joe Buck and other during the baseball playoffs, and other inane commentators during sports (and yes, I watch a lot of sports) what I'd love is a choice of commentary tracks. One thing that sucks is that you can't listen to a good radio team calling the game because there's a time delay between the tv and radio.

Also, in this age of 100s of tv channels - each more and more of a niche - why can't we have different views/styles of showing of the same game?

Patrick said...

Spinelli has it - it's all about message control. With the limited information released, the NFL can control how the key players are perceived, and increase their brand value. Too bad, however, because for some, the game would be more interesting, even if more flaws were apparent. Would there really be more criticism? Yeah, maybe more, but I doubt there'd be tons more. Most folks just don't have time to look that closely at the games. Those that do are already looking at games, and already criticizing on blogs and sports radio. But, it's the NFL, and control is everything.

ndspinelli said...

Beth, You don't have to listen. With the exception of a few announcers, I never listen. My bride hates it..men are visual, women auditory.

Ann Althouse said...

"men are visual, women auditory."

Does that explain why you men leave the house dressed the way you do?

1. You've looked carefully at what you put on and it seems so right.

or...

2. You know it looks like hell, but you believe women's sexual response is not based on vision.

Did you ever consider...

1. Women are being polite

or...

2. Women are settling for what seems to be available.

Let me help: We see. And we care about what we see.

edutcher said...

Pro sports lost me with the players' unions, strikes, etc.

PS Agree with Ann on men's dress. When I was available, I tried to dress to catch - and please - women's eyes.

It's one of the reasons I got The Blonde.

ndspinelli said...

Well professor, I found the greatest liberation is not giving a rat's ass what other people think. Even when I was on the prowl in my youth I didn't care much what women thought about my clothes. And, I never had to "buy it." As Chris Rock says in one of his riffs.."A woman knows in 2 seconds whether she's going to fuck a guy...men know in 1 second because they'll fuck anyone."

Tibore said...

"Bob Ellison said...
So some NFL footage exists that would bore almost all game-watchers. The NFL tested the idea of marketing it. The test bombed, but some ex-player says it'd be a huge hit. Yeah, that's a BIG story with a conspiracy angle.


Correction: A great deal of NFL footage exists that would allow a subset of fans who are interested in learning more and more about the gamee educate themselves on what's happening outside the zoomed-in shots. And the NFL tested the idea of making it available should such fans want to subscribe to a hypothetical service which would allow them that access. The NFL tested the idea, and it was a huge hit among the polled responders (quote from the story: "News of the survey made its way to NFL message boards and fan sites, where the response among football obsessives was wildly positive. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" said one message-board post. Another said, "The All-22 tape would be amazing. We'd actually be able to see what the safeties are doing."), but some ex-NFL official said it would lead to even more criticism of the league and teams, so it should be kept under wraps. It's admittedly a limited story that's only of interest to NFL fans, but it has an angle of condescension and paternalism via direct quotes from a league source.

I don't mean to be harsh, but it does help to read the original article to understand the context.

"Is the Wall Street Journal aware of the fact that NFL football is an entertainment industry?"

That is in fact the core of the problem: That instead of the NFL helping its customer base become more saavy about its product, it insists on only allowing a limited, controlled view of it. The direct insiuation is that the NFL is indeed treating football like an entertainment product to be viewed in only one way, instead of a grander product that can be analyzed and appreciated in a multitude of ways.

Kit said...

Good point, Scott, but as someone who never played (organized, I am a girl), it'd be great to see more of what's going on - to learn more - both closer in and further out. The best I can do is apply other sports I've played and go from there. It's just not the same.

Beth, I gotta say, I got sick of Joe Buck, too. As for baseball, I prefer it in-person, with out commentary (radio).

Tibore said...

To expand on my last paragraph above: Even the movie and TV industries are expanding their customers' experience via inclusion of special features in DVDs and Blu Rays, including but not limited to director commentary, Behind The Scenes featurettes, and other value-adds to the product.

But for some odd reason, the NFL - which already sees a huge base of such value-add products being produced for free by fans that they don't profit from - doesn't want to facilitate any such expansion of their service. It's mind boggling. The movie and TV industries get it. I don't understand why the NFL doesn't. I thought they were more market-saavy than that.

ndspinelli said...

Tibore,

The NFL will be introducing soon a system for people attending NFL games where they can rent computers and watch any game being played. Additionally, this system will allow you to call up your own replays, akin to being your own director. I heard the geek putting this together interviewed earlier this year. He said the NFL was aware for younger people simply watching one game and the scoreboard was unnacceptable and that future generation of season tix holders have to be addressed.

ndspinelli said...

Of course the aforementioned system won't work in Tenn. They only have dialup there.

Tibore said...

LOL, ndspinelli!

Knowing what I do about wireless bandwidth (I work in IT, and have discussed problems with enterprise wireless infrastructure with the engineers before), I could picture an entire networking team having a mass bender over such a proposal.

"What? 100,000 users with laptops (but only 30,000 in Jacksonville), all using bandwidth? Barkeep, make mine a double. No, a triple... aw, screw it, just gimme the bottle."

;)

PaulV said...

I found that fall weather is too good to miss to watch NFL on Sundays. If you need to watch it the last 5 minutes is enough (takes 20 minutes real time) To date myself, Bud Wilkinson was the best color man on TV after he retired as coach. He was trained to watch all 22 players and knew who screwed up right away.

Lance said...

Get a DVR and make your own rhythm.

According to the NFL that's a crime.

madAsHell said...

If we could see how these things work, then we could no longer justify the huge salaries!!

Occupy NFL! We are the 99.95%....that will never play pro football.

Iapetus said...

If you could watch the All22 feed during the game, how much undivided attention would you give to the network broadcast and some lame commentators? Networks pay the NFL a lot of money to get the attention of the viewers. How happy do you think THEY would be to see their product diluted with another distraction in addition to potty breaks and whatever it is that people do every time there's a real or TV timeout, challenge to the last play call, or an upstairs review of a blown call by an official? If you ask me, it was the networks and the sponsors who killed the idea of releasing All22.

Curious George said...

All 22 would allow the world to know what the Packers have know for a while...Charles Woodson can't cover anyone.

Skyler said...

Why is this being reported as though it were a scandal?

Skyler said...

Ann wrote: "Let me help: We see. And we care about what we see."

Women are valued for their appearance. Men are valued for their power. Power is not necessarily projected by looking pretty.