David Kirkpatrick

January 10, 2010

Congrats to the Cardinals and the Ravens

As fun as yesterday’s wildcard weekend games were to watch, they both look pretty perfunctory next to today’s contests. Even though the result was the same — one and done — the Packers did something today the Patriots couldn’t pull off. Both teams were just punched in the face very early in each game, but the Packers came back with a vengeance through masterful coaching and quarterback play to force overtime.

At the end of this day of football the Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime on an Aaron Rodgers fumble and touchdown return by the Cards. Easily the game of the weekend with insane offensive play from both teams.

In the early game the New England Patriots were absolutely dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14. And really the score looks a bit generous for the Pats, a team that looks to be on the downside of a good run. Baltimore was impressive and heads to Indy next week with a lot of confidence against a team they’ve had success against in the past.

All in all, a great opening weekend for the NFL playoffs this year.

Doesn’t it seem like the Pats have been a bit star-crossed …

… ever since Spygate broke a couple of years ago? Defensive leader, linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffers a stroke about three years before the story comes to light as an opening karmic salvo against the cheating team by the gods of football. Then last year the franchise, quarterback Tom Brady, loses just about the entire 2008 season to a major knee injury dooming the team to missing the playoffs. Last week star wide receiver Wes Welker blows a knee right before this year’s playoffs. And now today’s display.

What if Spygate went much, much deeper than anyone realizes. Here’s one scenario:

(Note for conceptually and hyperbole challenged readers: the following is satire [see definition number two from the link] and not actual conjecture, analysis or inside information,)

Recall back in the summer of 2005. Patriots owner Bob Kraft meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hands the world leader his ring from the recent Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles for examination. After looking the ring over and trying it on, Putin calmly and smilingly slides the ring into his pocket saying nothing. Essentially daring Kraft to protest this blatant and public theft, and act of total disrespect.

What if, instead of some sort of cultural misunderstanding or just simple robbery by Putin, this act was Putin’s gangster way of exacting a little more flesh from a business associate. Very possibly beyond simple in-stadium cameras trained on opposing sidelines, the New England Patriots engaged the services of Russia’s spy apparatus — namely spy satellites engaged to not only catch signals called, but possibly even sideline conversations through lip-reading technology coupled with real time satellite images capable of pinpoint resolution.

Of course, once you go down that particular rabbit hole, where does it end? Black ops agents infiltrating other NFL teams? Subtle disabling hits (think poisoning — we all know post-USSR Russia has experience and expertise in this field) against opposing players and coaches?

And consider the bitter irony of a team named the “Patriots” getting into bed with the United State’s bitter cold war foe. No wonder the football gods frowned, conferred and rendered a dark judgement asunder.

May the fall of the cheating, and possibly traitorous, New England Patriots be cold, bitter and very, very long.

(Yeah, I know I used “bitter” a lot there in the last two grafs. Maybe it’s the bitter taste in my mouth from these dark revelations.)

September 8, 2008

NFL used optimization software for 2008 schedule

Looks like everyone’s excited about the NFL season finally kicking off. I know I am, and the Cowboys look real good. Woot!

Even the gang at CIO.com are into pigskin fever as evidenced by this story today about how the league used specialized optimization software to create this year’s schedule.

From the link:

The National Football League is a professional sports organization known for its meticulous, hands-on approach to everything—how the league contracts with TV networks, how teams draft their players and how those players should act on and off the field, how licensing deals are signed, and how rules are enforced on the playing field.

The NFL doesn’t leave a lot to chance.

The same was true with how NFL executives created the schedule for its teams every year: It was all done by hand, starting the day after the Super Bowl, with a peg board and little tags. “The process was kind of secretive,” says Michael North, the NFL’s director of broadcast planning and scheduling, who’s been with the league for 15 years. “We would go into the room, lock the door and emerge 10 weeks later: ‘Here’s your schedule. Play it.'”

That all changed several years ago, when the NFL realized it could use technology to automate the process—making it more efficient and its schedules better—and a Canadian manufacturing engineer named Rick Stone came knocking on the NFL’s door.

In other NFL news, I wish Tom Brady a speedy recovery. You hate to see the league lose a marquee player at any time, especially week one. It was pretty obvious yesterday, but it’s official today that Brady is out for the season. The AFC just got a lot more interesting.