The NFL doesn’t want you to have access to the “All 22″ film

The NFL doesn’t want “All-22″ game film — the “eye-in-the-sky” view that coaches use to analyze their teams and their opponents** — released to the public because “it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio… [F]ans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All-22, without knowing the full story.”

It should be this simple

This is, of course, ridiculous. Obviously the argument doesn’t work, because if anything the All-22 would clarify the hasty conclusions fans and commentators already jump to on the basis of poor angles and little information. And even if it did open them up to criticism, so what? It’s an arbitrary game played for people’s enjoyment. If the First Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ ability to criticize the actions and policies of government and government actors, even during times of war — something that could potentially have a cost in human life — I should think that people who are paid millions of dollars to coach and play an arbitrary game can stand a little bit of heat. The whole thing is silly.

The proffered reason — that it would result in too much criticism — is so silly that it can’t possibly be true. But if it’s not true, then what is the real reason? I struggle with this (though I shouldn’t overlook the Occam’s razor-esque possibility that it’s simply that the people with decisionmaking authority over these kinds of things at the NFL are not intelligent, thoughtful people and do it for no real reason at all), as the only apparent conclusion is that it’s simply to insult the intelligence of fans and people who enjoy football. In short, it leaves two possibilities: first, either we really would fail to comprehend the complex array of movement on the field by twenty-two supremely athletic but human men, and thus we need the gentle paternalism of the cameraman and producer to show us, in a kind of cinematic baby talk, “See, with this close-up the quarterback throws a pretty spiral to the receiver!”; or, second, football isn’t even a game so much as it is a product to be branded in a particular way, and by restricting the All-22 the NFL can by Orwellian imagery of extreme close-ups and slow-motion shots emotionally convey to us the narratives solely how they want to in the way they want to. In either case, it’s all about controlling the message; the only question is why, and all the answers are depressing.

I should add that while I am here critical of the NFL I also don’t see colleges in general or specifically Pac-12 or SEC in conjunction with ESPN, or the Big Ten using its own network, uploading the game film for their last few games. I think eventually they will, as all of that film is fully accessibly by opponents (so there can’t be any argument about a competitive advantage) and is fully digitized and sorted within hours of each game and almost instantly stored on the cloud. College football wants to present these same narratives too, though I find it’s easier (for a number of reasons) to access college game film, and further there is simply less control over the message. But while it’s probably less explicit, as it is certainly less centralized, college football is vulnerable to the same criticism I’ve leveled at the NFL. Maybe if there will be movement in this area it will come from some enterprising conference in college football — say the combined C-USA/Mountain West — who wants to spread the word about its teams in any way possible and is willing to put its teams’ game film online. One can hope.

**The discussion of “All-22″ is a bit misleading because game film is typically shown both from the All-22 angle as well as from ground level either behind the offense (to better observe the offensive line) or the defense (for a similar reason). What we want is access to both.

  • Yokor

    At least we can get some of the All 22 film on NFL GameRewind on NFL.com.  Just wish it was more then a few select plays.

  • http://codeandfootball.wordpress.com David Myers

    It’s pretty clear that the NFL regards football as a product. You’re supposed to go to NFL.com and watch whatever old ball players and coaches tell you what’s going on, as opposed to thinking about it on your own.

  • http://twitter.com/NussCoug Jeff Nusser

    Clearly, it’s damaged the game of basketball to be able to see all 10 players at the same time. Such criticism!

  • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

    Or, the NFL just wants to keep it locked away for premiere paying clients.

  • roach

    That’s funny that the NFL is worried about protecting the coaches from criticism.  The NFL really doesn’t care what coaches think.  Witness the new collective bargaining rules or two-a-days and bye weeks. 

    I suspect the truth is that this is a coordinated marketing plan for All-22 game film.  It’s going to be available, but it won’t be cheap. 
     

  • Woofer

    I can’t remember the author, but I caught an article last year arguing that the NFL doesn’t want to release this film because then fans might quickly realize just how little creativity and diversity there is in the NFL on offense, and how there are, in reality, very few different plays run — they’re just run out of different formations. NFL-branded football doesn’t hold a candle to the variety found in college ball.

  • Anonymous

    the convenient excuse would be ‘shielding staffs from undue criticisms’.
    David Myers nails it in the comments……the NFL isn’t much about sport.  Its all a delivery mechanism for advertising.  The industry must control the product and how it is presented to it’s consumers.

    It is entirely a “Wizard of OZ” construct; all smoke and mirrors to manufacture drama, emotional climax, and rivalries.

    If the average fan could see ODK film, they’d see the game for what it is, without the packaging of subplots and the need for interpretation from talking heads (see Chris’ piece on “Wide 9 Defense Scheme”).  This would dissolve the appeal of endorsement deals (both from players, teams, and The League).  Also, with the advent of ardent fans (stat junkies) online, you could get much better analysis of teams and schemes from bloggers and the like, than you would from the kabuki theatrics of a Hoge, Jaworski, or Florio

  • Anonymous

    From a commenter at Football Outsiders:

    http://footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2011/nfl-doesnt-want-you-have-access-all-22-film“Nov 7, 2011–In an effort to improve the product delivered to television audiences, the NFL has announced a new 40 second taped delay to all broadcasts. From now on, all plays will be pre-screened and filtered to show only plays deemed successful by experienced analysts such as Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. All other plays will be replaced by a repeating loop of famous clips including Montana-to-Clark and Manning-to-Tyree, as well as various up-skirt shots of sideline cheerleaders. The NFL is committed to making you believe that football is composed entirely of ridiculous feats of athleticism and absolutely nothing else.”

  • Gbusshart

    How else would ESPN be able to feed you their “analysis” if everyone had access to film?

  • Gbusshart

    How else would ESPN be able to feed you their “analysis” if everyone had access to film?

  • Kolkata

    “All 22″ film helps replicate the in-stadium, live experience that a season ticket holder would have. Coming from the league with blackout rules, this really isn’t a surprise.

    Access has little upside (happier football geeks) and potential large downside (losing ticket sales).

  • Kolkata

    “All 22″ film helps replicate the in-stadium, live experience that a season ticket holder would have. Coming from the league with blackout rules, this really isn’t a surprise.

    Access has little upside (happier football geeks) and potential large downside (losing ticket sales).

  • Mess

    I disagree with you here. First off, the game film NFL teams upload is not available in a popular format. I believe the NFL uses MXF, so unless you can get that to a playable format you are up a creek. Second, college film goes through Dragonfly which allows you to share with certain schools. College coaches would never agree to have their film downloadable by anyone. I just can’t see any conference ever letting SL/EZ film to the public. College film certainly has more leaks though due to agents and scouts being 3rd parties where the NFL has no 3rd parties accessing film.

    We should be happy that we have easy access to the game. Wanting SL/EZ is absurd. Do we get all the footage shot for a movie? Do we get all the tracks recorded by an artist? SL/EZ is very private material, and it is for a reason. Coaches would never agree to let it go for free, or even a premium price. 

    The NFL puts out great video…the best of any sport…so stop whining. 

    If you want to watch game film, work for a football team. I’ve worked for football teams and enjoy watching game film, but I completely understand why it’s not available to the public. 

  • Mess

    I disagree with you here. First off, the game film NFL teams upload is not available in a popular format. I believe the NFL uses MXF, so unless you can get that to a playable format you are up a creek. Second, college film goes through Dragonfly which allows you to share with certain schools. College coaches would never agree to have their film downloadable by anyone. I just can’t see any conference ever letting SL/EZ film to the public. College film certainly has more leaks though due to agents and scouts being 3rd parties where the NFL has no 3rd parties accessing film.

    We should be happy that we have easy access to the game. Wanting SL/EZ is absurd. Do we get all the footage shot for a movie? Do we get all the tracks recorded by an artist? SL/EZ is very private material, and it is for a reason. Coaches would never agree to let it go for free, or even a premium price. 

    The NFL puts out great video…the best of any sport…so stop whining. 

    If you want to watch game film, work for a football team. I’ve worked for football teams and enjoy watching game film, but I completely understand why it’s not available to the public. 

  • Ryan Black

    Don’t know if the MWC is a good example.  The MWC is currently the most closed, “non-sharing” conference in the NCAAs.  Their TV contract and media rights are all locked up for a few extra bucks

  • Ryan Black

    Don’t know if the MWC is a good example.  The MWC is currently the most closed, “non-sharing” conference in the NCAAs.  Their TV contract and media rights are all locked up for a few extra bucks

  • Alexander Kotov

    Surely, they must fix the fact that if you pay $200 to see the game IRL that you can see all 22 players! You could go home and criticize them on the internet, or, gasp, even yell at the coach during the game! It’d be football anarchy!!!

    Seriously though, this attitude is why I hate the NFL. Good thing there isn’t anything tactically innovative going on there generally.

  • Alexander Kotov

    Surely, they must fix the fact that if you pay $200 to see the game IRL that you can see all 22 players! You could go home and criticize them on the internet, or, gasp, even yell at the coach during the game! It’d be football anarchy!!!

    Seriously though, this attitude is why I hate the NFL. Good thing there isn’t anything tactically innovative going on there generally.

  • Tallguyindc

    I don’t really get your point at all.  Adjusting the format is a very easy technical fix. 

    As for coaches not wanting it public, I still have no idea why not.   I could understand if it was for competitive reasons but the other coaches already have it.  It wouldn’t hurt anything.  Yes, fans could make more constructive criticism but why would that hurt them.  They could still say they just don’t understand.  In some ways, it might even help them.  Some fans do know what they are talking about.

    As a business matter, this won’t hurt anything.  Casual fans are still going to like the traditional TV shots. 

  • Tallguyindc

    I don’t really get your point at all.  Adjusting the format is a very easy technical fix. 

    As for coaches not wanting it public, I still have no idea why not.   I could understand if it was for competitive reasons but the other coaches already have it.  It wouldn’t hurt anything.  Yes, fans could make more constructive criticism but why would that hurt them.  They could still say they just don’t understand.  In some ways, it might even help them.  Some fans do know what they are talking about.

    As a business matter, this won’t hurt anything.  Casual fans are still going to like the traditional TV shots. 

  • Marc Pavlofsky

    The funny thing is, I would certainly pay that money, as well as many other consumers. Why isn’t it being sold now?

  • Marc Pavlofsky

    The funny thing is, I would certainly pay that money, as well as many other consumers. Why isn’t it being sold now?

  • John Phamlore

    It is mistake to encourage the mindless hating of the NFL game as exhibited by the posters you seem to be going out of your way to attract here.  You are destroying all of the good will you otherwise might have created with other analysis of NFL plays.  Think about it.

    What’s amazing to me is the college football boosters can’t see how pathetic the current college game is now with respect to actual stars.  Don’t expect to see an actual dominant player at the next level on one of the so-called football powers.

    Don’t believe me?  Where in the major powers can I see the next Aaron Rodgers who instead played for Cal, or the next Patrick Willis who played instead at Ole Miss?  The NFL’s biggest problem is continuing to draft overrated busts from the “major” programs like LSU’s Glenn Dorsey and wasting their cap room on such busts instead of giving it to the more deserving players.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes this weekend watching on TV an offensive tackle from Oklahoma playing for the Redskins who basically signaled whether the play would be a run or pass even in formations and downs where there should be doubt just by his stance.  Don’t these big program guys care anymore about learning how to play the game?

  • John Phamlore

    It is mistake to encourage the mindless hating of the NFL game as exhibited by the posters you seem to be going out of your way to attract here.  You are destroying all of the good will you otherwise might have created with other analysis of NFL plays.  Think about it.

    What’s amazing to me is the college football boosters can’t see how pathetic the current college game is now with respect to actual stars.  Don’t expect to see an actual dominant player at the next level on one of the so-called football powers.

    Don’t believe me?  Where in the major powers can I see the next Aaron Rodgers who instead played for Cal, or the next Patrick Willis who played instead at Ole Miss?  The NFL’s biggest problem is continuing to draft overrated busts from the “major” programs like LSU’s Glenn Dorsey and wasting their cap room on such busts instead of giving it to the more deserving players.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes this weekend watching on TV an offensive tackle from Oklahoma playing for the Redskins who basically signaled whether the play would be a run or pass even in formations and downs where there should be doubt just by his stance.  Don’t these big program guys care anymore about learning how to play the game?

  • Smarterfootball

    Two good reasons:
    1. No one would have a reason to go to games outside of those hard core fans.
    2. It would show you the complete amount of BS that spills from announcers and analysts spill.

  • Smarterfootball

    Two good reasons:
    1. No one would have a reason to go to games outside of those hard core fans.
    2. It would show you the complete amount of BS that spills from announcers and analysts spill.

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  • http://twitter.com/Brian_Bassett Brian Bassett of TJB

    Last year I had the chance to talk to some of the marketing, digital and PR people in the NFL along with some other bloggers before the start of the 2010 season. We griped specifically about this, and they were pretty open that it was about money.

    They might not say it this way, but the sense I got was that video of their product is one of their most important revenue streams, and their All-22 is their most valuable product, while also being somewhat Byzantine to most fans. So if they do grant All-22 access … it would be at a pretty steep price.

    At the end of the day, I think it’s about money more than any pedantism.

  • http://twitter.com/Brian_Bassett Brian Bassett of TJB

    Last year I had the chance to talk to some of the marketing, digital and PR people in the NFL along with some other bloggers before the start of the 2010 season. We griped specifically about this, and they were pretty open that it was about money.

    They might not say it this way, but the sense I got was that video of their product is one of their most important revenue streams, and their All-22 is their most valuable product, while also being somewhat Byzantine to most fans. So if they do grant All-22 access … it would be at a pretty steep price.

    At the end of the day, I think it’s about money more than any pedantism.

  • Richardfg7

    Sports radio is to football what K-mart is to mens fashion. They’re more into the “gossip” and not the x’s and o’s of the game. 

  • Richardfg7

    Sports radio is to football what K-mart is to mens fashion. They’re more into the “gossip” and not the x’s and o’s of the game. 

  • RedmondLonghorn

    If anybody is inciting hatred of the NFL, it’s the NFL. And you aren’t helping it either, with your comments.

  • RedmondLonghorn

    If anybody is inciting hatred of the NFL, it’s the NFL. And you aren’t helping it either, with your comments.

  • Tom Szelag

    I currently subscribe to NFL rewind, which does have *some* all-22 film available. I find it interesting, and enjoy watching it.

    Incidentally I got a survey from NFL.com back in October on this very subject. The first line reads, “The NFL is evaluating an online streaming product providing consumers with exclusive Coaches Film footage of all 22 players on the field for every play and game.” Survey then goes on to ask what interest level is, how much you’d pay, and the same questions for full post-game media interviews.

    Personally I’d be very interested in it and answered to that end. The potential of it happening is certainly there.

  • Tom Szelag

    I currently subscribe to NFL rewind, which does have *some* all-22 film available. I find it interesting, and enjoy watching it.

    Incidentally I got a survey from NFL.com back in October on this very subject. The first line reads, “The NFL is evaluating an online streaming product providing consumers with exclusive Coaches Film footage of all 22 players on the field for every play and game.” Survey then goes on to ask what interest level is, how much you’d pay, and the same questions for full post-game media interviews.

    Personally I’d be very interested in it and answered to that end. The potential of it happening is certainly there.

  • SomeOne

    “while also being somewhat Byzantine to most fans”
    restated: This resource, that we don’t advertise, talk about, or sell?  Yeah, most fans don’t know anything about it.  Go figure.

  • http://twitter.com/ncanon frank petrillo

    As sick as this is, I think it comes from coaches, on all levels,  being extremely paranoid about losing total control of their game films. Thats why there ceremony of exchanging the last 3 game films each week. And this is just an extension of that paranoia.

  • Mr.Murder

    Going into the last CBA streaming revenues were pretty much the Golden Egg of ownership, prior contracts were only about broadcast revenues, not streaming. Wonder if that changes the share of pie players get? Technically there can still get royalties and should be awarded those. Allowing a PRO such as Sony/ BMI to hand that money out is another issue altogether. Pandora’s Box opened for all to see.

  • Robc

     http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/A-Humble-Suggestion-Give-the-end-zone-angle-a-s?urn=ncaaf-173439

    Chris has linked this in the past.

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  • Rotel

     I like how you’re accusing a blog entirely devoted to the systemic analysis of football strategy of encouraging mindless hate of the NFL.

    That’s a completely reasonable conclusion to come to.

  • Strange

    I totally agree.  Before reading this, I had no idea that it wasn’t available by policy and have said, “I would pay for that kind of thing”.

    If they charged the same thing they do for game rewind, I bet they would make a pretty penny.  Hell, they could package it and say “only for owners of game rewind… pay an extra premium”.  I would do it.

  • Strange

    You haven’t explained what the reason is from the coaches perspective.  Is it a competitive advantage?  If so, how do you answer the response that opposing teams get the film anyway. 

    Also, the movie and music analogy highlights part of the problem.  For an artistic piece of entertainment, like a song or a film, we want to see the finished product and want the camera angles to be dramatic.  As fans of a highly strategic sport, we want both the drama from gameday, but also the insight into the game.  I suppose, if I were a movie geek, I would want to see how things were filmed as well.

    Finally, why is it whining for fans to demand a better product?  Sure they put out great video, but I am a consumer who helps support the league.  Why can’t I demand more?

  • Strange

    A few commenters have argued that it would impact ticket sales.  I can see why someone might say that, but I don’t think it is an obvious problem for two reasons

    1) They can release the “all 22″ film whenever they want.  It doesn’t have to be shown on TV in “all 22″.  It can be released Tuesday or even a week later. 

    2) I love going to games, and certainly the added view is part of it.  That being said, it is far from the only reason.  Even a lively sports bar with good food and a strong crowd of fellow fans cannot match the fun of a tailgate, the electrifying feel of the crowd cheering, and being that close to players of the game we love and the teams we follow.

    I doubt that it would drastically hit ticket sales.

    I am more into the “the media, including NFLN, would lose out”  notion, and the “product packaging of NFL drama” idea myself, but I can’t be sure. 

  • Guest

    Blocking, blocking, blocking. Blocking is like 80% of the game and the current TV product makes you miss 80% of the blocks.

    The current TV product is to the actual game what “cheez food” is to cheese. 

  • Strange

    Blocking, routes, coverages, all get hidden.

  • Strange

    Sadly, most fans prefer that. Favre brought an audience with his antics.

  • NDP

    Atleast you O-line/D-Line coaches get to see your positions in regular TV broadcasts…us DB/WR guys are left scratching our damn heads all game

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