By Mark Wald
The Cold, Hard Football Facts Ombudsdouche
Ever notice that some of the Cold, Hard Football Facts Troll Polls on the home page are little more than thinly disguised attempts to fine-tune their demographic? 
Got to hand it to them, a lot of companies pay marketing firms big bucks to figure this stuff out.  A Ted Kennedy question here, a WWII question there, and in no time at all CHFF knows if it's safe to make fun of hippies or not.
History of the 49ers
CHFF's recent story about San Francisco identified an interesting correlation between the 49ers' passing prowess and their win/loss record over the years, with a few derisive comments about hippies sprinkled in for good measure.
A couple observations:
  • CHFF has cause and effect out of order
  • CHFF overlooked the critical impact of the hippies on the 49ers success
There's no denying that passing the ball well is a key component of success in the NFL, although it's interesting how much of a "revelation" CHFF thinks this is.  Is there anybody who isn't acutely aware you need a good quarterback to win in the NFL?
CHFF recently said "great quarterbacks ALWAYS have great passer ratings", which is kind of like saying "fast cars ALWAYS win races." CHFF is more focused on the statistical result than the process.
If CHFF were a coach, they'd say, "Alright men, let's go out there and produce a passer rating of 140.0, because that's how you win". 
Reminds me of that James Bond movie where Bond, about to be eaten by alligators, asks his tormentor how to prevent being eaten. 
"Easy, just reach into his mouth and pull his teeth out." 
Technically accurate, but the who, where and how is missing. 
Scheme is overrated; focus and execution is what wins. Bill Walsh's genius was the latter, not necessarily the former.  The title of Walsh's new (posthumous) book on leadership, The Score Takes Care of Itself, intimates as much.
The 49ers' success over the years had more to do with great ownership, a hall of fame coach, and the good fortune of drafting two hall of fame quarterbacks and two hall of fame receivers back to back. The great passing statistics cited by CHFF are a by-product. 
As for the hippies, CHFF overlooked their impact.  New research reveals a stunning reverse correlation between the fluctuating number of hippies that infiltrated the city over the years and the 49ers' fortunes.  The more hippies in San Francisco, the less the 49ers won ... those filthy b*stards.
San Francisco 49ers / Hippie Correlation
Hippie Movement
SF Hippie Ratio
Hippie Authenticity Quotient
49ers Record
Early Hippies form out of Beatnick movement
Hippie spiritual zenith
Medium to High
Death of Hippie Dream at Altamont forces Hippies underground
Hippies regroup, go mainstream, kicking off decade of communes, occultism, and other decadent cultural waste
Election of Reagan and resulting silicon valley yuppie-ism kills last remaining original Hippies
90's nu Metal band Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst tells Woodstock '99 crowd to "stick those Birkenstocks up your *ss", unwittingly giving birth to new breed of disaffected youth:  the short-haired "angry Hippie", who, just as filthy as their earlier brethren, waste no time infiltrating Haight-Ashbury
Medium to Low
The Chief Troll must be using his time portal again (the same one used to travel back to 1982 when Showtime was big in order to watch The History of the AFL), because there hasn't been an authentic Hippie in Haight-Ashbury in almost 30 years.
Last time I was there, it was full of tattooed, pierced 90s alternative rockers and metal heads, the modern-day version of the Hippie, I guess.  They hang out there hoping something great will rub off on them, though I doubt they'd be able to tell you exactly what that is, if you asked.
The rest of the Haight is full of gentrified, over-priced souvenir shops selling a phony piece of something that was once significant.  The Chief Troll doesn't even look out of place in that picture.  Thank god for that.
Game managers vs. Gunslingers
Cold, Hard Football Facts talks a lot about "game manager" quarterbacks.  Unlike the "gunslingers," they manage games, deliver wins. 
Apparently, Bart Starr, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady are "game managers."
Starr, Montana, and Brady are "game managers?"  I don't think so.
In my book they're "playmakers" and – not to get too hung up on nomenclature – I'll take a "playmaker" over a "gunslinger" or a "game manager" any day.
·         Gunslingers win some games, and lose more
·         Game managers don't lose games, but rarely win them
·         Playmakers make plays to win games they have no business winning
The Chuck Knox story
If CHFF ever had a prayer in hell of pulling off the "game manager is good" crock they've been trying to hoodwink football fandom with, it was washed down the drain in another article about the passing game, part of which was devoted to former L.A. Rams coach Chuck Knox
Knox had his good points, like CHFF said, but their assertion that "he advocated the high-quality passing system that's been a necessity of success in the NFL" is enough to send any old-time Rams fan into either gales of laughter or tears or anguish. 
Make no mistake:  if there is a textbook example for how to bungle a quarterback situation or a more perfect illustration of the shortcomings of "game manager" quarterbacks, Knox's Rams are it.
John Hadl was Knox's quarterback in 1973, his first year as coach of the Rams.  For the era, Hadl had a great year (88.8 QB Rating, 2nd in the NFL).  Until the divisional playoff game against the Cowboys, that is, when he went 7 for 23 for 133 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. 
It was the closest Knox came (as coach of the Rams) to having anything resembling great quarterbacking. 
Despite being the second ranked quarterback in the NFL in 1973 and leading the Rams to a 3-1 record beginning 1974, Knox pulled the plug on Hadl in favor of James Harris.
Harris rewarded Knox by game managing the team to a 7-2 starting record, throwing 11 touchdowns against 6 picks.  Knox's unjustified faith in Harris wasn't rewarded in the playoffs, though.
Playoff Game
Passing Stats
Comp %
Passer Rating
1974 vs Redskins
33.3 %
1974 vs Vikings
56.5 %
In 1975, Harris was the Rams starter again, game managing the team to a 12-2 record, throwing 14 TDs and 15 INTs. 
In the '75 playoffs, backup Ron Jaworski subbed for the injured Harris and led the Rams to an inspired win against the Cardinals.  Jaws didn't play quite as well the following week vs. the Cowboys in a 37-7 defeat, though.
In 1976, Knox started losing his marbles, freely rotating Harris, Jaworski, and rookie Pat Haden.  Neither stood out, but Knox didn't give any of them long enough opportunity to do so.  By the time the playoffs rolled around Knox apparently felt Haden was the man.  Haden rewarded him with two pathetic performances.
Playoff Game
Passing Stats
Comp %
Passer Rating
1976 vs Cowboys
47.6 %
1976 vs. Vikings
40.9 %
Even after those '76 playoff games, Knox felt he had enough of a gem in Haden to ship Jaworski to Philadelphia, not wanting to hinder Haden's development (Jaworski went on to a relatively distinguished career with the Eagles, leading them to a Super Bowl in 1980).
Then, incredibly, the fickle Knox decided he really didn't like Haden after all because he traded for the washed up Joe Namath before the 1977 season. 
You can't make this stuff up.  CHFF thinks the Vikings/Favre experiment is folly?  It pales by comparison.
Namath lasted four games. Knox went back to Haden, who led the team to a 10-4 record, throwing an undistinguished 11 TDs and 6 INTs, running Knox's offense, game managing the team. The worst was yet to come, though.
In the 1977 "Mud Bowl," the Rams playoff game against the Vikings, Haden was so awful, his play so uninspired, you'd have to see it to believe it. 
Playoff Game
Passing Stats
Comp %
Passer Rating
1977 vs Vikings
After the Mud Bowl, the Rams' owner had finally had a snoot full of Knox's stone-age offense and his hem-hawing over quarterbacks and canned him.
As for Hadl, Harris, and Haden, they did make the Pro Bowl, like CHFF said.  Kerry Collins made the Pro Bowl last year, too.  He "game managed" the Titans to 13 wins then laid an egg in the playoffs, like most "game managers" do.
The NFL is full of quarterbacks who lead teams to impressive regular season records through smart, mistake-free play.  But they can't elevate their game when the going gets tough, when the rest of the team is stifled.  They're not difference makers. 
Rather than having a "high-quality passing system that's been a necessity of success in the NFL", Knox's Rams were exactly the opposite.  In fact, they provide the perfect example of CHFF's main premise:  that you need effective passing to win in the NFL.  With a great quarterback the 1970's Rams could have been one of the all-time great teams, because they dominated every other way.
I'm all for "reporting what the facts tell us." I get that.  n fact, I more than get it, I like it.  But plain and simple, on this story, CHFF saw a couple statistics and pulled out the rubber stamp without doing the research.
For the second week in a row, CHFF forgot to do their homework, and they missed a great opportunity to prove their point.