Old Yeller Fever ravages ESPN
Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 31, 2007
Danger! Cold, Hard Football Fact-resistant
strain of opinion turns great reporter
into mental mush.
By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts publisher
Forget about the dude with tuberculosis quarantined in an Atlanta hospital.
The greater threat to American health is the Cold, Hard Football Fact-resistant strain of Old Yeller Fever that's ravaging the sportswriting community.
Old Yeller Fever, for those with the misfortune of not knowing about it, is the disease that eats away at the meaty innards of the cranial cavity of football fans, management staffs and pigskin "pundits." As their intellectual capacity withers away, the victim of Old Yeller Fever is left with the utterly indefensible belief that Green Bay's Brett Favre is still among the best quarterbacks in the NFL when the Cold, Hard Football Facts prove, in no uncertain terms, that he's among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Old Yeller Fever gets its name from the famed Disney dog Old Yeller, who, as a young pup, was the best dog on the prairie but was mercifully put out of his misery when he outlived his usefulness. But we're fairly certain even a drooling, rabid Old Yeller did not throw 47 INTs in his last two seasons.
The latest victim of Old Yeller Fever (as noted by alert readers in the CHFF Football Forum), is ESPN's Len Pasquarelli.
Now, this isn't the patented CHFF rip job on an incompetent hack posing a sportswriter. Not at all. Pasquarelli is a fine writer and reporter. A guy who gets it and who we respect.
But – at least in this case – Old Yeller Fever has really done a number on him. Just watch the sad, curious story unfold below. The debilitating power of Old Yeller Fever is obvious when you see how it can twist the otherwise clear-thinking mind of someone like Pasquarelli into a logistical pigskin pretzel.
In a recent ESPN.com story, Pasquarelli was asked if Favre is still one of the best QBs in the NFL. Pasquarelli began his answer in a way that impresses us – by citing all the statistical evidence needed to draw a logical conclusion. The statistics, the Cold, Hard Football Facts, spoke loud and clear:
"His (Favre's) 70.9 quarterback rating in 2005 was the worst of his career since becoming a starter, and the 72.7 rating he posted last season was the third-lowest. His 56.0 percent completion mark in 2006 was his poorest ever and the 2005 and 2006 seasons represented the first since he moved into the starting lineup in which he had not thrown more touchdowns than interceptions."
Pasquarelli also notes later that Favre has won just 12 games in the past two seasons, against 20 losses. He might also have added that Favre has tossed 38 TDs in the past two seasons – that was one season of work for him back in his MVP-heyday a decade ago – or that, last season, widely criticized QBs such as David Carr, Michael Vick and Rex Grossman all produced higher passer ratings than Favre. That's right, Carr, Vick and Grossman were better passers than Favre last year, at least according to the NFL's very own time-tested passer rating formula. (Carr and Vick were better passers than Favre in 2005, too.)
"Those, obviously, are key numbers," added Pasquarelli. "And here's another one: 38. Favre will turn 38 years old in October, at about the midway point of the season, and one has to wonder about the effects of oxidation on the NFL's all-time iron man."
Sounds pretty obvious from all the evidence: Favre is NOT among the best quarterbacks in football. All the evidence, all the Cold, Hard Football Facts – even the Cold, Hard Football Facts Pasquarelli provided himself – prove that Favre is not among the league's best quarterbacks. Quite the contrary, the evidence proves he's one of the worst.
But hang on to your nuggets, friends of rational thinking and Cold, Hard Football Facts. That's not what he concluded. Here, instead, is Pasquarelli's conclusion, based upon his own study of his own data:
"But all the numbers aside ... Favre arguably remains among the league's top 10 quarterbacks. The critics point to his dubious judgment at times, but Favre has always been a gambler and a risk-taker, a guy typically capable of making a big play out of nothing. In terms of arm strength, his velocity might not be what it was five years ago, but on those occasions when he throws the ball with timing on inside routes, the zip is still there."
In other words, let's ignore all the evidence I just provided my very own self. Favre is a top-10 QB because ... Why???
Oh, that's right, because he's "always been a gambler and a risk-taker." And that makes you a Top 10 QB? The captain of the Titanic might have been a gambler, too. That quality didn't exactly make him a good captain. It's O.K. to be a so-called "risk-taker" if you can actually make the plays. And Favre made the plays back in the mid-1990s. He does not make the plays today.
- From 1994 to 1996, Favre tossed 110 TD passes to just 40 INTs
- From 2004 to 2006, Favre tossed 68 TD passes to just 64 INTs
- From 1994 to 1996, Favre and the Packers went 33-15
- From 2004 to 2006, Favre and the Packers went 22-26
Favre might have been a "risk-taker" from 1994 to 1996, too. But the end result was nearly a 3-to-1 TD/INT ratio. That ratio makes you one of the league's great QBs, no matter how much "risk" you're taking. Over the last three years, though, the end result has been barely better than a 1-to-1 TD/INT ratio. That ratio puts you way down the bottom of the pigskin totem pole, below the widely criticized Carrs and and Grossmans of the world.
Paquarelli takes the typical route, too, we find among members of the Cult of Dan Marino: blaming everybody else for the team struggles and elevating his hero to the role of martyr.
"Not even a much younger Favre might have been able to singularly compensate for the defections on offense," he writes.
The defections don't explain the average of more than 21 INTs per season.
Pasquarell's battle with Old Yeller Fever and the fact that he utterly refuted his own evidence was summed up best by CHFF reader "ShardsOfGlass" in the Football Forum when he wrote: "really, though, how often do we see someone own himself?"
Not often. But victims of Old Yeller Fever, like Green Bay management and, now, Pasquarelli, do unusual things.
Just ask its most famous victim, Sean Salisbury.
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