The NFL’s effort to grow the proverbial pie finally has invaded the Holy Grail of football footage.
Starting in 2012, the online NFL’s Game Rewind feature will include access to the mysterious and secretive “All-22″ coaches film.
Spotted by the folks at Deadspin, it’s a nonchalantly-added wrinkle to the one-penny-less-than-$70 package. Anyone who buys Game Rewind will be able to view, among other things, “Coaches Film for every play in 2012.”
And so no longer will a would-be Jaworski have to take a job with the league to see the thing that so many of the folks who get to see it (including Jaworski) speak about in snobbish and/or condescending fashion. Anyone/everyone can examine the end-zone-only images of every player on the field, along with everything else the Game Rewind feature has to offer, for only $69.99 a year.
Frankly, the league could charge much more than $69.99 for access to the coaches film alone, and virtually everyone in the media would buy it. Instead, the league hopes to maximize the total number of folks who purchase the package by making the All-22 film available as part of a broader collection of video with a very affordable price.
The move surely didn’t come without a fight. As Deadspin points out, an item last year from the Wall Street Journal explains that former Redskins and Texans G.M. Charley Casserly was opposed to disclosing the footage. “[H]e 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,” Reed Albergotti of “the Wall“wv wrote. “Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.”
It’s a valid point. Even with unfettered access to an unobstructed view of every player, it remains impossible to know whether a player made a mistake on a given play without knowing his specific assignment, which has been the Achilles heel of any and all efforts to grade players based on watching the televised broadcast of games. Although the assignment often can be inferred from the assignments executed by other players, who’s to stay the other players weren’t the ones who screwed up?
That simple dynamic makes it impossible for anyone other than the coaches of the players on the tape to know whether the players actually did — or didn’t — do their jobs. But when it comes to the media types whose jobs it has been to review and interpret video that no one in the audience could scrutinize themselves, we’ll now have a vehicle for figuring out whether the media types did — or didn’t — do their jobs, too.