I knew, surely as I knew that I drew breath or that the sun would rise in the morning, that Barry Sanders was a better running back than Emmitt Smith. Teenaged me would insist everybody should just watch them run throughout the 1990s, thinking the disparities between their talent and their opportunities were obvious.
But back then, most football discussions started and stopped with whoever had The Most. Most rings, most wins, most yards. Emmitt had more than Barry, so Emmitt was better. Even the most basic attempt to capture how Barry did more with less--like dividing the yards they'd each gained by the number of times they'd each run--would be dismissed as witchery, spooky numbers concocted by nerds who hadn't been given enough swirlies.
Imagine my joy when twenty-something me discovered Football Outsiders. Founded by Aaron Schatz and staffed by many future peers, colleagues, and friends, FO has been teasing "The Hidden Game Of Football" out of the box score with math, passion, film review, and opinions well informed by all of the above for the last 20 years.
Yesterday, Schatz resigned as Editor-in-Chief.