Monday, November 05, 2007

Halftime hit-and-run

Here's a MoneyLaw moment from, of all things, Monday Night Football.

Adrian PetersonCommentators on ESPN's halftime show debated whether Adrian Peterson, rookie halfback for the Minnesota Vikings, is already the best running back in the National Football League. One of the commentators (whose name I neither knew nor caught) said, "No," reasoning thus: "If he's so good, how come six teams in the NFL passed on him during the draft?"

No, no, no, a thousand times no. This sort of reasoning reveals more about those six teams than it does about the player at issue, Adrian Peterson. Worse, it exposes the commentator as football's equivalent of law professors who evaluate any given faculty candidate according to her alma mater, class rank, law review position, and/or clerkship. Those CV entries are the legal academy's equivalent of draft position -- evidence of the initial "expert" evaluation of a player, but not evidence of that player's talent. Once a player hits the field, draft position no longer matters. Once a candidate for law teaching puts pen to paper, educational credentials have no greater relevance in the academy than draft position has in the evaluation of an active NFL player. What if a particular candidate has yet to write, let alone publish, meaningful legal scholarship? In today's market, that fact alone speaks volumes.

Say it together, folks: Performance, not pedigree, is the best predictor of performance.

Having been the seventh pick in the 2007 draft says nothing about Adrian Peterson. These numbers do:
Those would be gaudy numbers for a whole season. Adrian Peterson and the Vikings are halfway through their schedule. Already the owner of the NFL's single-game rushing record, Peterson has a legitimate shot at the league's record for rushing yards during a single season.

Here's a bonus. Do you want to be a competent NFL analyst for a national sports network? Watch this Adrian Peterson video. Those five minutes will put you way ahead of the ESPN analyst who evaluated Peterson according to -- of all things -- his draft position.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't recall the remark you reference, which sounds stupid (or maybe ironic) in isolation. But aspects of your analogy strike me as misplaced.

1. You say -- italicizing for the benefit of the slow among us -- "Performance, not pedigree, is the best predictor of performance." I'm guessing the proposition on the table was whether it is the ONLY predictor. This isn't true of Peterson, to my knowledge, but it would be entirely rational to take into account his terrific performance so far, and proceed to ask why other teams passed on him IF they were similarly situated -- the inquiry might reveal, for example, reasonable suspicions about his longer term prospects, like being prone to injury. In this case, I suspect the real reason the question was pointless was because none of the other teams needed a RB as much as they needed to plug other holes. He was, after all, the top RB drafted.

2. You liken CV entries to draft positions. That's not the right analogy. Draft position is like other interviews, callbacks, or offers. CV entries are like making a determination about Peterson because he was recruited by, and excelled at . . . Oklahoma.

3. The basic issue with the grasp at sports analogies in your post, and on this site in general, is whether one can establish objective metrics and agree on which ones matter, something that's particularly hard in an area where who wins and loses doesn't show up in lights. I fear the analog to running yards, yards per carry, or TDs might be number of publications, status of average journals, and top 10 journals. Even staying on the football field, my guess is that someone would want to know about the quality of the opponent's rushing defense (I think Chicago and SD aren't doing well this year), the success of the average back in the offensive scheme (it used to be thought that you could put a high schooler in the Denver offense and he'd gain a hundred), etc. Putting that aside, what one is after in a law school is more like the intangibles that govern why Charlie Batch still has a job, not the factors that Fantasy Football seizes upon and exaggerates.

11/06/2007 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way that picture isnt Adrian is Chester Taylor,,,,,,,,geez

1/22/2008 9:35 AM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Now it's Adrian. Thanks.

1/22/2008 9:56 AM  

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