Inspiration from Oakland Raiders’ Flavors BR and Educational Articles

In 2007, my calculus class needed a little pep talk to explain the many applications of the subject. At the time we were talking about integral calculus.

Somehow I thought about a former Oakland Raider who I remembered as a very good mathematics student at Texas Southern University. Since he is retired and so many people in 2007 did not remember his contributions to the NFL, I thought that I would design some type of sports and mathematics project to compare his contributions with those of other NFL players. Jerry Rice, now a Hall of Famer, was the focus of comparisons with other wide receivers.

The article inspired by the experiences in the class was titled, "Take a Good Look Using Mathematics."

During that semester I had an older, very brilliant student who already had a law degree from Harvard University and had practiced law for 30 years. He, too, was a student of calculus.

Before the class we decided on a math model to compare several wide receivers, from different eras. The Harvard graduate took the lead in his small group of students. 

This work was also inspired by a quantitative analysis study, done by a former Pittsburgh Steeler who did a great job of comparing players in different positions, during different eras on NFL teams.

Since 2007, more than 600 articles have been written on aspects of sports, using data from the Oakland Raiders. Some of the BR articles are more palatable than others. The main thing, however, is that many of us are now engaging in a study of how to use more mathematics and statistics to compare, characterize and even make careful forecasts of performance and other aspects of the popular game called NFL football.

While this is a challenging era in football history because of the negotiations between owners, players and the NFL, it is a time to highlight the great accomplishments of so many who may not be mentioned often in the popular ...

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