“We are very resistant to changing for the sake of changing,” says Brain McCarthy, NFL spokesperson. “Part of the appeal of the NFL is that it is man against man against elements and unscripted drama. When you add technology that could directly influence play on the field it has the potential of detracting from the overall product and enjoyability of the game.”
Bower and Frigo aren’t the only ones pushing for a technological revolution in the NFL. KC Joyner, called “The Football Scientist,” and a regular contributor to ESPN Insider, uses game film to track, tabulate, and analyze nearly every measurable statistic in an NFL game. These statistics, complied and explained in Scientific Football 2006 (pdf), use a performance-based metric system with the goal of “quantifying everything and putting it into perspective.”
Joyner believes that if an NFL team doesn’t take advantage of the latest technology, it will be hurt in the long term. “Nontechnological teams can still get good players, and some things will work, but as they get further behind the curve, it is going to catch up to them at some point,” he says.
Whether or not the league accepts ZEUS and teams decide to use it remains to be seen. For now, it can be implemented only in practice situations.
Bower and Frigo recently added customization–the ability to enter the characteristics of specific teams–and also developed a second application, ZEUS PPV (“Player Position Value”), which determines the value in incremental wins/losses per season of individual position players.
“Once [NFL] teams begin to embrace technology, the entire league will advance and be more successful,” says Joyner, “It is going to take one successful coach looking for an edge, willing to take a chance.”