Friday, August 31, 2012

BC2012: The Paolantonio Report by Sal Paolantonio

This book about the most overrated and underrated in NFL history is part of a series, something I learned this week as I perused the clearance section of a Half Price Books. There I found similar tomes about baseball and college football. Their authors, like Paolantonio, work(ed) for ESPN. It isn't the greatest genre. The author is deliberately trying to create controversy, the more the better.

Paolantonio is willing to do whatever it takes, including cherry-picking statistics, to make himself right. Unfortunately, he discusses a lot of players from the era when I didn't follow pro football (early 1990s to mid 2000s), so I can't often tell whether his over/underrated claims make any sense. I do know, just as a logically thinking person, that his section about the most overrated Super Bowl teams is pure bullshit. He asserts that the 1985 Bears, as well as the 1996 Packers, are overrated as Super Bowl teams because they were not dynasties. That is obviously an apples-to-oranges argument at best, though I'd rather classify it as just plain stupid.*

The biggest problem with this book is its age. Paolantonio includes a lot of current players, and since the book was published in 2006, the stats he uses to back up his choices are woefully outdated. A player from the 1970s is probably still as overrated or underrated as Paolantonio says, but a player from the 21st century has had more than half a decade to either fade away or accrue Hall of Fame-worthy stats. Of course, none of this is the author's fault, but it's an important warning to anyone buying the book in 2012.

* If he had written that the 1980s Bears were overrated because they weren't a dynasty, that would be reasonable -- many Bears fans would even agree -- but to disparage one year's team based on their performance in other years is ridiculous. If I say the 1971 Riviera is the coolest looking car Buick ever made (especially from behind),  you can't argue by saying, "No, it is not, because the 1986 Riviera is uglier than sin."  You can't change the parameters just to create an argument and expect to be taken seriously.

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