Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: NFL Record & Fact Book 2009

In addition to the books on the current reading list, there are others I own, some updated on an annual or other basis, that are more for research and reference purposes than books. There's a continuum here, of course, from pure narrative (most of the books on the sidebar) to The Pro Football Chronicle to the more pure research/data books. One of those on the more research/data end is the NFL's Record and Fact Book, sold annually to the public since the mid-1980's. My collection goes back to 2004, but this review is about the NFL Record and Fact Book 2009. I know, the official release date is not until July 28, but I got my copy from Amazon Friday.

What sort of information is in there? The basics-team statistics for last season, team single season records, NFL standings for every year, game logs for all team v team results for most of the league's history, playoff game results, most every variety of team and player records you could want, and, of course, interconference records.

For purchasers of last year's edition, here's what I noticed looking at the index for each section and flipping through pages:
1. The 2008 Record & Fact Book didn't list a player's DOB, just their age as of some date. The DOB has been restored in the 2009 edition.
2. There's less information about each regular season game. In the 2008 and previous editions, each regular season game had a paragraph or two of AP-type copy describing what happened, plus a line score and scoring plays. That information has been excised completely, and each 2008 regular season game now gets only a final score. This is a big negative change.
3. Similarly, the 2008 and previous versions listed, by week, all 100 yard rushers and receivers and 300 yard passers. Now, you just get the weekly 100/100/300 guys for the playoffs, plus a list of the top 10 rushing, receiving, and passing performances, and a list of guys who had the most 100/100/300 games. Jesse Chatman, be glad you had your 100 yard game in 2007 and not in 2008! Again, a negative change, though less important of one.
4. The previous edition had a list of all overtime game and a sentence or two about what happened. The 2009 book only has the results of all OT games, but details only for the 2008 games. Not that big a deal, but less useful.
5. There are 8 pages of stat projections for fantasy football. Consider this a preview/taste of what you would get if you bought their fantasy football preview magazine. Considering this appears on page 289 of the Record and Fact Book and thus isn't likely to be seen by a casual browser, I'm not really sure why it's in there. You need to be an obsessed yoyo like me to see this information, and an obsessed yoyo either already knows about the fantasy football preview magazine or lives under a rock and isn't going to buy the fantasy football preview magazine. I know, this is only 8 pages of a nearly 700 page book, but given that actual useful information was deleted from last year's edition, the inclusion of an irrelevancy like this annoys me.
6. The 2008 edition was notorious for including the 2006, rather than the 2007, Redskin team statistics. From my browsing of the book, I haven't noticed any mistakes like that, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.
7. The digest of rules has been removed. This is an annoying and negative change.
8. The 2008 book had v. team stats for some star players like Marvin Harrison, Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander, etc. This information has been removed, and I don't think I noticed in the 2008 book until doing the comparison.

The index to the current edition does note that additional information is available on the NFL media site, though I haven't perused what you can get there.

One other critique is that pretty much everything in the book is available on the NFL's site. Yes, it is. I find it valuable to have a hard copy-an internet search isn't always available and useful, and I enjoy browsing through the hard copy.

Keep in mind that, if you view these critiques as nit-picking, you'd be quite right to do so. And, nits aside, the NFL Record and Fact Book 2009 will be sitting in the stack on my end table at least until February.

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