|Posted by OldestLivingProFootball.com on February 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM|
The work to "update" the pro-football encyclopedia and the many online sites that have copied or to be more accurate, "ripped off" their work and make it their own seems endless. We have literally found hundreds and hundreds of faulty data that can be best described as a mistake, and at worse, deceitful.
As we go through the process, we can actually see the 'research' patterns and methods the so called "experts" in the field have employed in there quest to provide you with an accurate history of professional football.
Some of the blunders are just down right awful. We can site many examples of shoddy research, but for now, I will only talk about some of the mistakes we have found. For example, one of the most egregious errors that we found is the one where they take information for a woman that passed away and use her birth and death data in place of an actual player with the same first and last name and use it in the encyclopedia. Why do this? Were they guessing? Did they assume that nobody would ever fact check the information or were they in such a hurry to publish a book that they used the first thing they found? We will probably never know the reasoning.
There are also numerous examples of players dying many years ago that were either still listed as alive or listed as having died 70+ years after the fact. (See George 'Babe' Ruetz, 1922 Racine Legion).
Do I sound bitter? I hope not. I am and have become very frustrated with the work I see from the experts. How can these people put out a book, get paid for it, and have so many inaccuracies? I can understand the fact that people make mistakes and with this type of research, on this scale, things can certainly happen.
All that being said, there are mistakes that we, as professional football researchers can do nothing about. Sometimes you will read that a player died 'last night'. Does this mean before midnight or after midnight, which can throw off the death date? Who really knows. We were not there and especially if it was 50+ years ago. These types of mistakes are minor and are not something to get upset about. But when a player is alive and has been reported as deceased in the 1970's (See Bill Gray, 1947 Washington Redskins) that is frustrating to say the least.
I can remember when I bought "Total Football" in the 1990's. I was amazed. What a great book, or so I thought! It had all the pertinent information I could ever hope to acquire.
Over the years, I would make notations on a players page. I placed a check mark next to their name when I wrote them a letter (which I did often) and of course I updated the death data as time when on. The book today is literally in 6 pieces because I used it so much. The binding tore off long ago and I had to use it in sections. It was certainly easier to maneuver!
Yes, the book is still an amazing piece of work, but little did I know the data provided was not what I would have hoped it was at the time. Little did I know, it would take me to this point.
We are 95% complete with this web site. We are still gathering information and trying to complete the last few hundred players. This includes the birth and death information from AFL League players of the 1920's - 1940's that have never been published. These are proving to be difficult, but I will tell you this, we will not put anything on this web site that has not been researched carefully.