Richard Martin

Grading Every Last Thing In NFL Gets An F

Created on Mar. 28, 2014 5:19 AM EST

Way back when newspapers reigned supreme and broadcast journalists took their cues from their print brethren, news came when papers were delivered and TV and radio generally played catch-up.

That seems like such a long time ago. Now print journalism has far less influence and appears to be dying -- slowly. Meanwhile, the news cycle is 24 hours a day, and just about anyone can claim membership in the Fourth Estate.

But there’s a problem with that.

With many more outlets than there used to be -- the dinosaur print, radio, TV and now the Internet -- there’s a need for more content than ever.

With sports, that can be tough. What do you do, for example, if you’re an NFL writer and it’s the offseason? The NFL has become a colossus, and Sports Nation must be fed with a steady diet of football stories.

The draft’s now televised. That’s welcome. It’s the source of some hard news. Draft Day’s full of big stories. Trades, players getting picked later or earlier than expected.

But that’s not enough. Sports Nation has an enormous appetite for news or anything resembling news. Or, even better, opinions, the more the better. They don’t have to be reasonable. Ridiculous is fine. Silly is fine. Belligerent is fine. Sports Nation’s satisfied with junk food.

Which brings me to the latest trend: grades. Hard-hitting journalism? Hardly. Interesting? Rarely.

More and more sites are giving grades to various team moves. Sometimes it’s reasonable. For example, you can justify giving grades to teams for the games they played.

But this has gotten out of hand. Now some of the biggest players in news, CBS and SI among others, are now judging every transaction. Each move is evaluated and given a grade.

When the draft comes along, each team will be graded. How can they do that? Who knows? The guy hasn’t played a down. It’s all guesswork. No one can predict the future. But Sports Nation must be fed.

It’s as if a student were given an A for showing up for the first day of class. Or an F if he was at home with the flu. You haven’t even taken a test or written a paper and you have a grade. Wow. 

What if everything were judged so quickly? Hmm... Let’s take a look at history.

1492, Spain: “Hey, Christopher, you’re nuts. Why should anyone help you cross the ocean? Everyone knows the world is flat. I won’t be a party in your suicide.” (F on going west across the Atlantic)

1775, USA: “Hey, guys, are you insane? The British empire’s the greatest power in the world. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Poppycock. You’ll have pursuit. The British will pursue you to the ends of the Earth until you’re hanging from the end of a rope.” (F on the American Revolution)

1960s, England: “Those four Liverpool youngsters will be forgotten in a week. It’s a dumb fad. They need haircuts. And remember this: Guitar bands are on the way out.” (F on signing the Beatles)

How about pro football? 

1960s: “The NFL will grind you into dust. There’s no room for another football league. You’ll get killed in court. But don’t let it get that far. Just surrender. Cut your losses. The big guys always win.” (F on the American Football League)

1960s: “The Entertainment and Sports Network? Are you drunk? On drugs? There’s no way you’ll be able to find enough programming to put on your network. Are you going to broadcast sports news all day long? Mark my words, you’ll be filling up your network with squash reruns.” (F on ESPN)

1969: “That blowhard playboy will get his against the Colts. There’s no way the AFL will beat the NFL. Not now, maybe never.” (F on the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III) 

1979: “That Notre Dame quarterback’s too small to make it in the NFL. His arm strength isn’t great. He’s at best the fourth-best quarterback in the draft. He didn’t even start that much in college. He had one great game.” (F on drafting Joe Montana)

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