Introducing “Football Freakonomics” on the NFL Network

As readers of this blog know, I like the NFL quite a bit (although not, for whatever reason, college football). I have written about players from the past like John Unitas and Franco Harris; I also love to follow the modern NFL and all its tricky issues.

So I’m thrilled to be hosting a new segment on the NFL Network called “Football Freakonomics.” We did a short program together for the NFL Draft, called “The Quarterback Quandary,” and now we’re partnering up for an ongoing set of segments. The first Football Freakonomics feature will air this Sunday on the network’s “NFL GameDay Morning.” We’ll explore all kinds of issues — winning/losing, performance, salaries, etc. — and we’ll lean on original research as well as the insights of many brilliant people from sport, academia, and beyond.

The first segment is titled “Is Momentum a Myth?” (If you’ve read the fine book Scorecasting, you may know where we’re headed with this one.) I haven’t seen it yet but all the NFL folks I’ve been working with in production are absolutely top-notch, so I’m sure they’ve come up with something great.

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  1. caleb b says:

    You probably aren’t in to college football because you are from New York, where there isn’t much in the way of college football.

    (Obvious, I know but…) It seems to me, whether someone likes college or the pros largely depends on geography. If you grow up in a state with Pro Football, you probably don’t care much about the college game. But if you are from a state that doesn’t have pro football or has more winning college teams, you’ll probably like the college game better (like Ohio).

    So it’s not really surprising that you don’t like the college game that much. You don’t really have a dog in the fight. (But I’m sure you were happy to App State beat Michigan on their home field).

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    • Joshua Northey says:

      Plus college athletics have to be one of the hypocritical and anti-market institutions out there.

      I wish they would just set them up as alumi-development/student entertainment sub-businesses and stop with the farce that they are educating the athletes, or that they aren’t using cartel power to enrich administrators and coaches at the expense of young ignorant “non-employees”.

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      • caleb b says:

        “stop with the farce that they are educating the athletes”

        You forgot to add Football and Men’s Basketball in front of the word ‘athletes.’ You’d agree that the universities are providing an education to the women’s water polo team, right?

        Wait…you also left out that you are only talking about big schools with large athletic departments, right? Clearly a tiny NAIA college IS providing an education because no one is getting rich in NAIA sports, right? Plus, none of those kids are going to the pros anyway.

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      • stedebonnet says:

        “Plus college athletics have to be one of the hypocritical and anti-market institutions out there.”

        Its not like athletes are coerced into attending these institutions. Brandon Jennings of the Bucks is a prime example of someone who didn’t play college basketball. Plus there would only be Men’s Basketball and Football (at very few schools) if the market ruled.

        “stop with the farce that they are educating the athletes”

        As Caleb B pointed out above, this is a gross generalization. Even at big schools with large athletic departments your statement isn’t true. There are approximately 12,000 Division 1 college football players, and 224 players drafted per year. While others will be signed as undrafted free agents, that’s still a lot of young people getting an education to enter professional careers.

        Looking back at my own college experience, at a university that won March Madness very recently, I can say that athletes received a world class education and worked their tails off for it. Those guys never missed class (unless at a game), participated in discussion, and were graded with the same critical eye as everyone else. Though some play in the League, many others have an education from a top-tier institution that they use daily.

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      • max says:

        I’m guessing you went to Duke. I have always thought it was very impressive and intriguing that Duke can put together a championship contending basketball team year after year and still maintain such high academic standards. Same goes with Stanford’s football team this year.

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      • JHD says:

        IMO, Duke’s “high academic standards” do not apply to the basketball team nearly as much as they want you to think they do.

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  2. RGJ says:

    I’ll be interested to see your take on momentum, especially compared to Bill James’ advice in baseball about the myth of clutch hitting or starting the hot hand.

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  3. Tom says:

    Wow! Stephen I’m a fan, read your books, enjoy your blog, blah blah blah… Not a fan of college football, I see a huge character flaw. You’ve lost all credibility. Sincerely, Tom

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  4. Jordan says:

    Not spam—–> But have you seen the new market for daily fantasy sites like,, might be an interesting article writing about the fantasy sport market, especially since the UIGEA that has targeted online gambling in the US has a special exception for fantasy sports.

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  5. RichmondTom says:

    The discussion of “momentum” in sports reminds me of an oft-repeated comment by many sports announcers over the years that “momentum can turn on a dime” (or something to that effect).

    In the words of Inigo Montoya – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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