Innovation Session

Innovation Session: Tony Gonzalez Infographic Part 6

Done! Pretty much anyways. All of the major data for the infographic is now in place – I’m sure I’ll make a few final tweaks, but for the most part I’m pretty happy with it.

Tonight I spent most of my time wrestling with a few ideas of how to present comparisons between Tony G. and the current crop of Tight Ends in the league. I started with the idea of normalizing per season, but realized that most athletes, Tony included, experience their top performance in the early half of their career.Also, many athletes, Tony excludes, get injured as they get older and start missing games or have to stop playing all together.

I had a thought that I would project out the averages of each player into the future to predict when would be the soonest they could catch any of Tony’s current records. As I started working on it though, I just wasn’t comfortable with having the data be based on something so theoretical.

I thought about comparing the first N years of Tony’s career to the careers of younger players – but that story wasn’t very compelling. The data didn’t show much – and there was a lot to account for in the fact that a good portion of the redefinition of the Tight End role happened because of Tony and during his career – so years 1 & 2 of players who were drafted in 2010 would be very different than Tony’s in 1997 & 1998.

I ended up deciding on sticking with the normalized yearly averages. To add some depth to the visualization I included stars for how many years they player has been in the NFL – thus adding a bit of context to the stats. Averaging nearly 1,000 yards per season for 16 seasons is a much stronger stat than 1,000 for 2 seasons.

Here is a sample of the what I showed for Jimmy Graham – I like that it makes it easy to put context around how the two players compare. We can see that Graham is a TD producer but still behind Tony’s averages for receptions & yards receiving. This is of course only 3 seasons into Graham’s career & he’s had a guy named Drew Brees throwing to him for all of them so who knows what the future holds.