While NFL players are training in the offseason, practicing speed, accuracy and fundamentals of teamwork, the same qualities were exercised Thursday night at ESPN as the Stats & Analysis Team raced the clock to enter the 2013 NFL Schedule.
“This year was the quickest we’ve ever been able to print, enter, double-check and transmit the schedule out of our database — 17 minutes,” said Stats Analyst Sean Coyle, who oversees all pregame aspects of the NFL, including rosters, schedules and communication with the league.
•7:50 p.m. Warm up printer
•7:55 p.m. Print out test page
•8:00 p.m. Print schedule from NFL.com
•8:12 p.m. Schedule entry complete
•8:17 p.m. Schedule scrub* complete
•8:17 p.m. Schedule transmitted to ESPN.com
*Note: Scrub is S&A’s term for double-checking or proofreading statistics or information.
“Our previous record came two years ago, when it took us 19 minutes for the entire entry process,” Coyle said. “We typically shoot for any time under 30 minutes, which we consider a success.”
S&A enters and maintains the NFL schedule that appears across all ESPN platforms and it begins with a team of 10 employees tasked with the entry. All 256 games of the regular season are added manually, one at a time, including the week number, date, time, venue, home and away designations and in some cases, the TV networks, as well.
“The exact date and time of the NFL schedule release is usually unknown until a few days before the release,” said Statistics Manager Ryan Mathews.
Once S&A receives the concrete date and time from the league, S&A puts together a staffing plan to accommodate the entry process. Eight people are assigned to enter two or three weeks apiece and two staffers check the data to verify accuracy before it is transmitted.