Old Mo and free agency in a down economy

There’s a great list of Football pet peeves (via Smart Football – hands down my favourite football blog)

…..if I were ever named commissioner, the first rule I would enact is this: Any receiver who looks at a ref and does the little throw-the-flag wrist flip gets a 15-yard penalty and a lifetime ban from the league.

OK, I wouldn’t go so far as a lifetime ban but I whole heartedly agree (as with most of the other pet peeves).

One of my pet peeves which isn’t on the list is the idea of momentum, or in cliched coach speak ‘Old Mo’. Certainly a big play or a big hit can get a team fired up but I just don’t believe in a thing called Momentum, that one team has, and the other team doesn’t but can ‘take back’. Football history is littered with counter-examples but you only have to think back to the Superbowl to find the most recent.

In the 4th quarter the Cardinals had all kinds of Momentum on their side. They’d had a big goal line stand (2 if you consider that the stupid personal foul on Adrian Wilson gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs), and their D had all but shut down the Steelers O. The Cards offense had erased the Steeler’s lead and then put them ahead with only 2.35 (IIRC) left on the clock.

All the Cards defense had to do was do what they’d been doing all 4th quarter and shutdown the Steelers – they’ve got all the Momentum so it should be easy, right? Except ‘Old Mo’ didn’t turn up, and Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes and the rest of the Steeler’s O did – or did they somehow steal Momentum back? Did Holmes’ drop on the play before the game winning TD lose some Momentum? The whole thing is just nonsensical.

Football teams win / lose because they make / don’t make plays, and in close games it’s about making plays at critical times (just how Federer knows to conserve his deepest concentration for big plays). Smart Football doesn’t think much of Momentum either although Chris does a much better job debunking it than me.

On a sort of related note, NFL draft and free agency are upon us and I wonder what, if any, the affect of the struggling economy will have. I can’t think of a year where the no 1 draft pick didn’t sign for more than the previous years pick, and since the advent of the salary cap and free agency, and year that the cap didn’t go up, or that some free agent became the highest paid at his position. Sustainable growth or an about to burst bubble?

The NFL’s revenue sharing arrangements and salary cap should help buffer it from serious bubbles unlike the top Premiership teams which seem highly leveraged due to the skyrocketing transfer fees and wage demands, with no cap to limit them (last year Chelsea were £736m in debt). NFL teams could however suffer from cash flow or lack of credit problems as they have to pay signing and roster bonuses upfront (even though for salary cap purposes the numbers are pro-rated over the life of the contract). Likely the smaller market teams or those without mega rich owners who might be most effected.

But there’s not just pure economics involved. If the still wealthy are hiding their extravagant shopping behind unmarked bags (via Penelope Trunk) then I wonder if there will be a considerable backlash against ‘spoiled athletes’ holding out for a bigger signing bonus. I expect Drew Rosenhaus to be as unrepentantly money grabbing as always.

I also wonder whether the economic situation will spur on the restart of the NFLPANFL labour negotiations (once the NFLPA finds a replacement for the late Gene Upshaw). The thought of uncapped years doesn’t seem quite so appealing in a down economy.

Anyway it’s the offseason so I’ve got to have something football related to think about.

the great netbook bonanza

Don Marti wrote a rambling (for him) post about impact netbooks and linux, and musing about the great netbook windfall. Here’s some stuff I wanted to throw into the pot.

There’s still a lot of network value in a copy of Microsoft Windows because of all the compatible products out there. But, thanks to hard-working Linux driver writers, “driverless” USB class-compliant devices, and the rise of web-based applications to take the place of shrink-wrapped Win32 applications, the difference in network value is less and less at the low end of the market.

When ever you create a Linux based devices, whether it’s a phone, MID, netbook, laptop, there’s more to getting it consumer ready than trying out a LiveCD and knowing your ACPI tables. (I know that’s not what Don, or Harald, where implying – just trying a LiveCD would be a start for many). Even after the LiveCD runs there’s a not insignificant chunk of NRE that needs to be done to make sure that everything works together properly according to spec – in fact this is true of every hardware & OS combo.

So one of the hidden forms of Windows network value is that Acer, Asus, HP, IBM/Lenovo, Dell, etc have 10+ years of institutional understanding of what needs to be done to get hardware + Win{95,98,XP,Vista} ready, and (for some) 5+ years of server hardware + “Enterprise Linux” (but creating server room ready hardware and consumer ready devices is different kettle of fish). And now they’re learning, often the hard way, all the obvious stuff about building Linux consumer devices; while you can fork and customise and do your own thing you’re then left maintaining patches while projects move on, so it’s better to get stuff upstream; binary drivers are even more painful than on servers, fun with GTK+ and Qt theming, and yes ACPI tables, and on and on. There are more bonghits to come but hopefully less frequent and not as high.

OSV’s like Canonical, Xandros, Linpus, Novell etc can’t make the per device profit that Microsoft can but they can make a living (I would hope). Many of the netbook guys, Asus in particular, seem to feel that it’s a crime to let a few weeks go by without bringing out a new SKU, which is more NRE, and ongoing security and feature updates. So I would expect that being involved in desktop (or mobile) will be more than just a signaling strategy in the future – that increasing institutional understanding of how to get devices ready will mean that OEMs want to deal with OSVs that are directly involved in UI and Application projects, as to provide direct feedback and a greater likelihood of important changes & bug fixes going back upstream. That’s my theory, let’s see what happens.