November 3, 2011

Powers: The stats man

This item was supposed to be about another team within a team in the Calgary Stampeders operation, but instead I’ve decided to dwell on the leader of the pack.

His name is Daryl Slade and he is a full-time Supreme Court reporter with the Calgary Herald. He is also the head of the statistical team that covers the Stamps, without much recognition.

Slade has been handling the stats story for the Canadian Football League out of McMahon Stadium for just shy of 30 years.

When he started, it was with a team of three that has now grown to seven. The group takes up residence each game at the south end of the main press box.

Slade is the quarterback of this team and, with binoculars in hand, he calls all of the plays out loud and others then put them into computer form where they will be compiled in total at game’s end. Well, not exactly game’s end today. In the old days, Slade and his group would compile the stats at halftime and then again at the finish.

Today, we get updated stats after each quarter plus the half and now need wait only minutes for the complete stats story whereas long ago it would take some time.

When Henry Burris would drop back to pass Slade would say just that — Burris drops back. Then he say pass to 82, complete for 10 yards. Another member of the team would then pass on the name of the tackler and the two items would then take up one line on the eventual play-by-play sheet that is handed not only to the media but also sent to the CFL head office.

The job to most of us would be complicated as they have to keep track of yards gained or lost rushing or passing, penalties, tackles, sacks, yards on punts or kickoffs not to mention keeping track of scoring plays and who was involved and at what time the points were scored. I sometimes just watch from afar as this team works their magic and work so well together.

And remember, while they work there is a CFL official who monitors each and every game to make sure mistakes are not made. And on that topic, Slade says he can’t remember ever having his team make a mistake although some time ago former head coach Wally Buono did argue a sack. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

Slade also admits that the toughest calls are on tackles when a lone ball carrier is met by a horde of opposing players intent on stopping his progress.

And it must be a love of the work because as of early next year, Daryl Slade will be recording the stats on game number 300 with the Stampeders, not to mention more than 140 games for the University of Calgary Dinos, who he has handled since 1981.

And there you have a look at another look at an inside part of this football operation that, for the most part, goes unrecognized.