As some of you may know, Football Outsiders' writer Aaron Schatz is just a tad bit pissed off right now with Colts president Bill Polian. Schatz has used Tweets and an article on his site to rip ole Bill a new one. The reason Aaron is so pissed:
If you read a lot of Polian's comments about advanced stats, you can see a general theme: "Fans in general are morons who know nothing about football."
Woah! Woah! Woah Aaron! I do believe Stampede Blue owns the copyright as the only site on all the Internets that can call out Bill Polian on his obvious disdain for the people who paint themselves blue, buy overpriced beer, and scream their guts out on Sundays for the Indianapolis Colts.
What 'Polian comments' got the normally docile Aaron all worked up?
Well, it turns out Big Bill has opened his big mouth once again and insulted the very same football fans that, you know, flood this league with the money that pays Bill his multi-million dollar salary.
Yep, it's time to tear Bill another new one, folks.
Schatz's smoldering temper today stems from some comments made by Bill Polian on (you guessed it) The Bill Polian Show!
I mean, it doesn't matter if Polian is using this radio program to insult his own teams' fanbase or open his fat mouth to prematurely declare that an 18-game season is a 'done deal' next year. As crazy as Colts owner Jim Irsay's Twitter account is, it is by no means the the free-flowing golden river of 'WTF are you thinking!' comments that the Bill Polian Show is.
This past Monday, Polian inserted his foot into his mouth once again by how he answered a question about the value of statistics. Polian used this question to take a not-so-veiled shot at people who use certain stats to measure accomplishment (i.e., the people at Football Outsiders):
I think it was (CBS broadcaster and former New York Giants quarterback) Phil Simms on a broadcast I heard who said, 'Statistics are virtually meaningless in football unless you can match them up with videotape and say this is what this statistic specifically means against this defense in this situation against this offense in this situation. Standalone statistics such as exist in baseball – sabermetrics, if you will – have no validity in the NFL. Zero. I was glad to hear Phil say it publicly. It's not said enough. There is a growing – albeit small, but noisy – cadre of people who try to convince you that standalone statistics are really meaningful. They're not.
Make no mistake folks. Polian is absolutely referring to Football Outsiders when he dismisses 'sabermetrics.' Schatz saw these comments from Polian yesterday and fired back on Twitter:
Bill Polian thinks we're idiots.
I think he just dislikes fans in general.
He belittles any attempt where people outside the game try to understand how the NFL works. Does Bill Polian understand that he is in the entertainment business? Does he understand that anything which increases interest in football is good for the National Football League?
Now, before the Polian water-carriers start making excuses, saying (perhaps) that Bill wasn't talking about FO, Schatz has a few words for you [emphasis mine]:
I've spoken to Polian in the past as well as two of his sons. We had a long talk about this after his speech at the MIT conference last year. Yes, he is talking about us. Most NFL people, I have no idea if they pay any attention to FO. But I know for a fact that Polian does because I've talked to him about it.
Just so people know, Football Outsiders isn't just some dinky stats site run by a bunch of (ugh, I really hate this dumb stereotype) losers in their underwear blogging from their mother's basement. Their stats systems are used by actual NFL teams. They even consult for NFL teams. Heck, current Lions head coach Jim Schwartz (who was hired by a GM Polian very much respects) used to do a lot of work with FO, and even Super Bowl champion coach Sean Payton of the Saints believes in their system.
In fact, Schatz used that little bit of knowledge to body slam Polian's bitter statement against FO:
You know who disagrees with Bill Polian about stat analysis? Sean Payton. How's that onside kick treating you, Bill?
OK, that last dig hurt, Aaron. Thanks for bringing up that horror show of a play that those damn credit card commercials loop on TV just to torture us Colts fans.
But, despite the pain, I can't argue against the Schatz's sentiment. Sean Payton coached a helluva game against the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. And if his decisions were affected by stats analysis, as Aaron suggests, it pretty much torpedoes Polian's argument, which is:
Can people stop saying Polian is right that stats can't paint a complete picture? What he is saying is "stats can't paint ANY picture."
Now, for someone like me, I don't consider Football Outsiders' stats system to be the be-all and end-all of methods to measure accomplishment. I firmly believe that, in football, stats often lie. Essentially, this has me agreeing with Bill Polian to a certain degree.
However, where I deviate from Polian is where I always cross paths with the old gasbag: The man clearly thinks fans are ignorant peons, and that his personal knowledge is the ONLY knowledge worth anything. He's arrogant about this, and seems to have no issue attacking, insulting, and belittling the very people who, in essence, pay his salary. We saw him do this last year when he insulted fans on his radio show following Week Sixteen, and we've seen him do it in the treatment of this blog (which is run by and written for fans).
I'll say this for longtime Polian nemesis Bill Belichick: Even though he is a cheating scumbag, I have never, EVER heard Belichick say anything negative about the Patriots fanbase. Schatz agrees with me on this point:
I keep telling people, guys like Belichick and Tuna might be obnoxious to the media, but they never say bad stuff about fans.
Polian, on the other hand, has no problem telling these dirty fans to STFU and get off his lawn. It's a public relations policy we at Stampede Blue have long attacked as being insulting to the most important element in the whole NFL equation.
Players, coaches, general managers, footballs, stadiums, goal posts, TV contracts, helmets, and pads all means nothing unless fans are there to witness the game itself and cheer it on. For Polian, it's pretty obvious, based on his numerous statements, that he considers fans low on the NFL business totem pole. Schatz agrees:
It's like [Polian] wishes football games could be played in a bubble with no fans...
Yeah, we've been saying that for a while Aaron.
The normal Polian water-carriers, the people who will make any and all excuses for ole Bill because they are mindless drones scared that, without him, the Colts will plung back into the 'dark ages,' they will argue that this is about how stats are measured, or the importance of this stat over that, or that Polian simply thinks stats of a certain nature aren't worth discussing.
That's not the argument, and people saying it is are trying to distract you (or themselves) from the real problem.
The issue here is, once again, we have one of the most senior people in the NFL thumbing his nose at the paying fan. Football is an incredibly popular sport. Fans are extremely passionate about it more so than any other American sport. A tremendous example of that passion is a site like Football Outsiders. It's a site run by fans and it's meant to be used by fans, professionals, and anyone in between.
Sure, you might not agree that their 'system' is accurate, but the simple fact that they exist, are successful, and that they have been accepted by many NFL teams as a legitimate system of measuring stats, is a major accomplishment. It's a testament to the passion of NFL fans.
For Bill Polian to insult, demean, and belittle that is simply unprofessional, not to mention downright rude. One of the many hats Polian wears as president of the Colts is a PR hat. For him to (once again) be this brazen in his contempt for NFL fans is an embarrassment to the team and the city.
It's no different than when Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt got 'liquored up' on Canadian TV and bashed Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning back in 2003.
I'd joke that Bill seems to do this once every year around this time, but the joke isn't funny. It never was. And as much as I and anyone else would love to 'move on' from bashing Polian, the fact is the angry redhead keeps opening his fat friggin mouth and insulting the very people who make this game so popular.
One final Tweet from Schatz to close this latest embarrassment courtesy of Bill Polian:
I do hope that Chris Polian respects fans more than his father, because the day will come when Manning is gone and they'll need to draw fans
That is Stampede Blue's hope as well, though (as is most often the case) the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. Maybe Chris Polian will buck that trend.
We'll close this by saying we very much hope that the Colts win Sunday and make the playoffs. We bleed Colts blue and cheer our favorite team on just like every other Colts fan. However, we do not have blind allegiance to Bill Polian here. We find his consistently belligerent actions towards fans and fansites like FO and Stampede Blue insulting and beneath his position. For all his lectures about how media and players should 'act professionally,' you'd think he'd be smart and take some of his own advice when it comes to interacting with 'the costumer.'
Sadly, he doesn't.
Apologies to Aaron and the FO crew. We agree: Bill Polian is a great GM, but he is very much a dick to his fans.