Quincy resident Kerry Byrne created ColdHardFootballFacts.com in 2004. The site has received tens of millions of hits each month of this football season.
Kerry Byrne used to get fed up reading news stories about football. “They’d be completely inaccurate, and I’d know because I’d study the numbers,” he said. “So I started sending out these e-mails saying, ‘This is what so-and-so said, but these are the cold, hard football facts.’”
When the Quincy resident realized his friends were passing the e-mails on to their friends, and he was getting responses from strangers, he decided to start a Web site. He set up ColdHardFootballFacts.com the night before the 2004 NFL season opener.
The site has received tens of millions of hits each month of this football season, and between advertising and content syndication, Byrne said he believes it has the potential to earn some real money – and possibly lead to something bigger down the road.
Cold, Hard Football Facts sets itself apart from other football Web sites by emphasizing statistics and the conclusions that can be drawn from them. “One of our mottos is, ‘Our facts can beat up your opinions,’” said Byrne, who describes himself as the “Potentate of Pigskin” on his site. He hires freelance writers to help him write the irreverent articles posted on the site. “We don’t have opinions. If the numbers tell us something, that’s what we report.”
Statistical analysis in football is relatively new compared to analysis in sports like baseball, and Byrne said that it’s difficult to find accurate stats that can actually give a sense of how good a player or a team is. To that end, he developed what he calls “quality stats.” Among them is the Defensive Hog Index, which incorporates yards per attempt, negative pass plays and the opposition success rate on third downs. The index is now 18 and 2 in predicting winners of playoff games.
The site also caters to what Byrne calls “the gridiron lifestyle” with tailgate recipes and beer guides. Its most popular recipe is one for the Roethlisburger – a beef, sausage and egg sandwich created by Peppi’s Old Tyme Sandwich Shop in Pittsburgh and named after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Byrne played and coached football at Quincy High School, and has worked for many years as a freelance food and drinks writer for Esquire, Cargo, Boston magazine and others. He is currently a part-time food writer for the Boston Herald. “I’m in a unique position where I know football and I’m really into football, but I’m also a food writer and I can cook anything in the back of my truck,” he said.
Byrne believes the concept of combining statistics and lifestyle stories can apply to other sports, as well; he has already bought the domain names ColdHardHockeyFacts.com and ColdHardSoccerFacts.com. But after finessing the football site a bit more, he sees NASCAR as the next frontier: a sport with a huge following, a season that starts just when football season ends, and a culture of tailgating. “The key is finding someone who can look at it with our voice and our bombastic approach,” he said.
Julie Onufrak may be reached at email@example.com.