Historical NFL Database (2000-2014) Overhaul

Further proof that good things come in large packages too

We’ve been pretty busy combing through 651,312 NFL plays and the results of this work was uploaded last night. Some of the major aspects of this update to our Historical NFL database include:

  • Inclusion of a couple of hundred missing shared tackles.
  • Some small errors affecting yardage listed for kneel downs and spiked balls have been fixed.
  • Instances of extra yardage gained after an “own recovery” fumble not being added have been corrected.
  • Errors on roughly 150 plays where a penalty on the offense adjusted the net rushing or passing yards, and, we did not take this into consideration, have been updated.

These errors where caught mostly thru automated processes. This stage of our analysis is largely complete, which means, the next step is a lengthy manual review of all 651,000 plays to remove the last inconsistencies.

Our goal is to have data 100% aligned with official records by the Spring of 2016. The 2015 season is already achieving 100% accuracy thanks, in part, to input from many of you.

For those of you who are interested, we are offering $0.25 US per-play for any details on an error, either with the key details of the play description or any of the fields that are derived from the description (i.e, yardage gained; passer id; pass target id; tacklers; punt/koff returners) and so on. Plays that are completely missing from our records (there are roughly 100) are also eligible. Plays that contain any form of a lateral are not.

There is a limit of $0.25US payout on each play so an error in the description that perhaps caused errors in 2 different fields still nets you $0.25US.

If $0.25US per play doesn’t sound like much — keep in mind that there are still an estimated 2,500 – 5,000 issues, from incorrect clock times to incorrectly labelled players. There is money to be made here, especially for those of you who can come up with a way to automate certain checks against official league records.

The best current official reference is the individual play-by-plays for each game, available at NFL.com (season 2001 – 2015). These play-by-play listings appear to include stat corrections (changes the NFL scorers make well after the game) which do account for some of the existing errors.

If you are interested in getting involved with this latest exciting project, drop us an email!!

4 thoughts on “Historical NFL Database (2000-2014) Overhaul

  1. Hello,

    Is there a glossary or reference table available for the column names? While some are obvious others I’m a little unsure about.

    Thank you,


    1. Most definitely.. You should see a ‘Support’ folder in the download-able zip file. This folder contains a file named ‘2015_NFL_Table_Schema’ which should be what you are looking for.

  2. Anyway to get a data file of all “play by play for each season since 1990 (sorted by player, per season, per game, by time/quarter”…if so, how much for a file sorted like this. Thanks, Chris

    1. Sadly, we have only been collecting NFL play-by-plays and parsing their contents since 2000. Accurate data that is easily available will be difficult for you to locate prior to this time.

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