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?
“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.”
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?
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
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.
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
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
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