Chris Collinsworth, Neil Hornsby, and Pro Football Focus

What or (who) is ‘Pro Football Focus’? LINK to wiki

Pro Football Focus just seemingly appeared out of thin air a decade ago and quickly became the standard for NFL statistical analysis. All 32 NFL teams pay PFF for their data collection services (as of 2021).

Who started the company?

A guy named Neil Hornsby started grading NFL players in 2004 and started the PFF website in 2007. Surprisingly, PFF was started in the United Kingdom.

Chris Collinsworth became majority owner in 2014 and PFF moved their operations to Cincinnati to be within driving distance of Collinsworth’s home in Kentucky.

Flash forward to 2022…

  • PFF receives $50 million investment
  • Collinsworth focuses the investment money on 'Sports betting and fantasy football"
  • Hornsby leaves in December – Hornsby’s reluctance to push more heavily into sports betting and fantasy sports were factors in his departure, sources told FOS.

Just a lot to take in. I was just curious as to who PFF was and went down this rabbit hole learning about this company.

The waters are getting awful muddied with sports betting entering the game.

PFF is opinion based information when you really look at how they formulate their grades. How did their opinion become the standard and WHO are the actual guys grading each play?

  • NFL pays Pro Football Focus for data
  • Media uses Pro Football Focus
  • Large NFL media figure owns Pro Football Focus
  • Gambling - Fantasy football coming to Pro Football Focus

Why do we trust these grades from PFF so much?
What is the actual data the NFL purchases from PFF?

How does The Den feel about Pro Football Focus?


“I know most of the guys that I’ve played with absolutely hate it, just because it’s started to gain so much steam now where Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, they’re actually showing stats up there for the players,” said Lang. “I think it’s absolute garbage and I think most players do.”


To me , it’s just another tool.

Seems like our staff used it quite a bit in last years draft though…


guys here quote PFF everyday! EVERYDAY we see PFF GRADES.

Can someone tell me WHY?

And does anyone know specifically what data all 32 NFL teams purchase from PFF? I would really like to see that information or at the very least know what type of info it is.

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I feel like it’s just one voice that can be used for analysis and is never a comprehensive picture.

But I do appreciate the thorough nature of the model even though it embraces a lot of subjective aspects

When it first started, I was a member, because I liked to track stuff with so much detail - Both objective and subjective, I even shared about a dozen emails with the founder discussing why they graded so-and-so such a way, And if they considered the difference between a single gap or two gap scheme

That was also back when the grading seem more personalized and didn’t come out until Wednesday to Friday the following week


Neil Hornsby? That’s pretty interesting. He seems like an extremely intelligent man that had a huge interest in data and NFL football. Is Hornsby American or was he a British citizen? I was surprised the company was founded in the United Kingdom but I couldn’t find any background info on Hornsby.

How do you feel about the gambling aspect possibly joining the PFF platform? Could that be a conflict of interest when the NFL is paying you for your services, and your grading system is ubiquitous in the NFL world.

Could your grading system potentially impact a potential award winner…MVP…DPOY…OPOY?

Big money could possibly influence the opinionated PFF grading system indirectly influencing potential award voters.

I’m just having trouble wrapping my brain around all of this. Teams paying PFF—Collinsworth a big media influence—PFF potentially adding gambling----

Money is flowing in many directions…and it’s all based around some guys opinions watching some NFL film. There could be 100 of these companies watching film and getting paid for an opinion.

How did PFF’s grades become the standard system that most everyone uses, including every single NFL team?

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yea it all feels way more glossy and dirty now. But as a business owner, I get it. Have to make money at the end of the day. If I could go back in time I’d never have opened a brewery. I’d rather be a mailman or some shit like that

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I find it helps with stats that are lets say easy to see.

I don’t like some stats they say because objected stats not certain stats. Example likely dropped pass.

There used to be truly valuable “data” (not opinion) recorded, too. The pass distribution chart, for instance, was a PFF thing before anyone else was doing it. You can now get that from NextGen, thankfully, but that’s just an example of data that was lost when they adopted their subscription model that supposedly catered to teams/media.

Those were like 5-digit prices, if I remember correctly.

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Who are the people handing out the grades at PFF?

What credentials or credibility do they sit on?

How many people here understand how PFF’s grading system works?

What data does PFF collect that is so valuable that each NFL franchise pays for it? That is the meaty question.

Because they actually watch the film. Huge difference between watching film & watching a game as a fan. I watched all of the games as a fan this year, quite enjoyed it

Large majority of this board could do just as good of a job as PFF at grading film. Most on here don’t watch the film though, myself included


Down, distance, hash, formation, coverage, can sort cut ups by plays played by player to evaluate just strictly one player & on & on. PFF’s data in a lot of ways, is GA’s on steroids

Edit to add: All of that data is married to film. So if you wanted to see how LB #57 reacted as the backside defender to play action pass on the right hash during 3rd & short as an on or off the ball defender you can pull those 3-5 plays up from the season in like 3-5 clicks/column sorts


Who watches the film? Are they faceless, nameless humans? They have quite the influence on the NFL world and no one knows who they are?

How many people work for PFF and grade each game? It’s pretty incredible that they grade each player, on every single play! That is an awful lot of rewinding tape, right?

And the grades come out so fast…within a few days right? Or 24 hours? They are very fast at collecting, analyzing, and distributing their film grades.

We just throw out the grades each week and take them as fact (myself included).

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I have no idea who the actual film graders are & how many employees they have. When I utilized their services based upon how accurate it was I would guess the work force is pretty substantial (My theory is it would have to be based upon how quickly they could get it turned around with pretty reliable consistency) Yes a ton of film to rewind & rewatch.

The system really is quite impressive (the paid package) I wish all of you could see it

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I really don’t see much of that at all. When people post it they normally preface it by saying “take these with a grain of salt, but at least its something to discuss.”

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Yeah it was him, I just looked up my old email correspondence it was pretty funny. I asked him about discrepancies in grades regarding Stafford, Suh and Ansah over several exchanges. He was surprisingly quick to respond in every case back then

kind of goes back to what I was saying to I think @BigNatty. When PFF grades a player that I like considerably worse than what I feel is fair, I don’t automatically want to dismiss them or become outraged, I just get curious as to what the reasoning is


Because it gives weight to your argument. That’s what the science says. :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

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LINK - behind a paywall

Neil apparently stepped down from PFF back in December. I can’t read the article and there is no other information I can find to confirm this.

Here’s something interesting about PFF.

This is Mike Renner - Lead draft analyst at Pro Football Focus

Austin  Collinsworth.-1587473925531
This is Austin Collingsworth (Chris’s son) - Chief Operating Officer at Pro Football Focus

Renner was at Notre Dame from (2008-2012) LINK
Same time as Austin Collingsworth (2010 - 2014) LINK

Is Renner really one of the best analyst in the NFL…or is he a college buddy of the son Austin (C.O.O) of the owner (Chris) of PFF?

I’m not trying to knock Mike Renner. But did PFF really go find the best minds…or the best friends? It’s an honest question.

I say we all pony up and put our dough into AI to do the evaluating. No bias, just what you see is what you get.