Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jason Cole: ADD Psychic

If you seek a reason for why athletes hold sportswriters in such contempt, look no farther than Yahoo! Sports analyst Jason Cole’s predictions of the best games of the upcoming NFL season. Somehow, he manages to mix inconsistency and incoherence in the same article, yet takes himself seriously the entire time. As an amateur satirist, I stand in awe of what must be the work of a master.

I have no idea why sportswriters persist in this madness. April is far too early to know which teams are good and which teams are bad. In fact it’s too early in September to really say this. After all, Chicago had the best offense in the NFL at the end of September last year, and that didn’t really pan out very well for them.

But Cole (and many others of his ilk) persist in telling us which games will be compelling as soon as the schedule’s released, as if his perception of the NFL season will have any bearing to reality in six months. He seems blissfully ignorant that in the past 3 seasons, we have 3 teams that have won their division each year: New England, Indy, and Seattle. The AFC North and NFC South have been musical chairs, with the other divisions won twice by the same team but with an interloper the other year.

Can we be sure that San Diego will be good next year? Well, they missed the playoffs in 2005, letting Denver take the division and missing out on the wild card to Jacksonville and Pittsburgh. Oh, perhaps you’re saying “but, but, but…”, and yes, I understand, there are circumstances to consider. This is my point about every NFL team every season: you just don’t know, do you?

If Peyton Manning is injured in training camp, would you pick Indy to be a great team next year? What if LaDanian Tomlinson went down in week 3, or Drew Brees in week 6? What if an unknown receiver on the Titans matches up well with Vince Young, whose work throwing pays off with a stellar season? What if Michael Vick gets benched and Matt Schaub is the true #1 quarterback in Atlanta?

So Cole’s predictions are laughable from the get-go. He has no idea which teams are good, but he doesn’t let that stop him from telling us where the good matchups are.

Then, his ADD takes over. Cole’s incapable of reading the earlier paragraphs to figure out what to write later. He tells us that Green Bay is terrible to watch in week 3, then best of the week in week 8. The Lions are unwatchable in week 1, then in week 10 they’re fun and will air it out and score a lot of points against Arizona, who he’d picked as game of the week in weeks 2 and 4, and whom he believes “will score a lot of points.” So, this game should be terrible, because the Lions are terrible and Arizona is good and Arizona will win big, so it’s definitely can’t-miss football from Cole’s point of view.

Ignoring the fact that Arizona has promised more football than they’ve delivered the last 5 seasons, his consistency is laughable here and throughout the rest of the piece. I guess this is why Yahoo! gives away the sports stuff for free: nobody’d pay for it.