Do football teams need a franchise quarterback to win? Who is the best running back in pro football today? How can we objectively rate the performance of individual defensive players? Such questions have engaged Sean Lahman throughout his career. As Bill James did with baseball, Lahman now takes the next step with The Pro Football Historical Abstract. Taking the analytical methods he’s developed over the years in his annual football preview books, he applies them to past players going back to the earliest days of the NFL. The result is an exhaustive and revolutionary new look at the history of pro football.
Beginning with an overview of how the game has evolved from the 1920s to the present day, Lahman examines changes in playing styles and rules, and how other external events affected pro football on the field from decade to decade. And he discusses how all this must be considered when comparing modern players like Tom Brady, Dan Marino, and Emmitt Smith with players of past eras, such as Sammy Baugh, Jim Brown, and Johnny Unitas.
Lahman then moves to the book’s centerpiece: his rating and ranking of the players in each position throughout the same period. Using his tried and tested methods (such as “adjusted yards” and “Q-ratings”), he takes a detailed look at nearly 1,000 playersyielding new insight into their playing styles and their strengths and weaknesses on the field. Next he looks at the history of each NFL franchise, examining how each team functioned collectively and the extent to which management, venue, or ownership affected its performance. A section on coaches looks at the men who had the most success on the field and the most influence on the game.
What makes a coach? What variables determine his success? Including biographical essays on more than 500 players and coaches, the book closes with detailed statistics for the game’s best players, including some never before published stats for defensive players and offensive linemen.
Setting a new gold standard in books on the NFL, The Pro Football Historical Abstract is a must for everyone who considers football more than just a game.