Author Ted Kluck found, online, a community of computer nerds and football enthusiasts so rooted in the past and so uninterested in the future that they have created algorithms and computer software that can accurately simulate football games, seasons, and careers using fields of data that already exist on the thousands of players who have suited up in the National Football League. All of these players are now old. Some of them are now dead. But they became the object of Ted Kluck’s fascination.
The Odyssey Online Football league began in 2006, with the 1966 NFL season, and has been gradually working its way through NFL history ever since, “drafting” players, crafting game plans, calling plays, winning and losing. Theories are tested. Team owners have theories.
What if NFL teams went back to power offenses like the late-80s Parcellsian Giants? Are running backs over 220 pounds more effective and less likely to get hurt? Can a running quarterback survive if he’s deployed more like a running back? And why are there whole groups of people out there this obsessed with the past?
Past Time explores these questions and many others, as the author—a jaded journalist, a lifelong football player, and a burned-out coach—spends a year immersed in the late 1970s, in hopes of rekindling his love for the game. Part memoir and part Bill-Jamesian exploration into football nerdery, Past Time is an homage to football’s past, and a meditation on its present and future.