Steve Daniel will be inducted into the Media Wing at November Grey Cup in Vancouver

The hub for players statistics, both current and historical is not in an office in Toronto or Vancouver. No, it’s based right here in Ladner.

Steve Daniel has been a fixture of the Canadian Football League (CFL) since 2005 when he joined the B.C. Lions after 11 years in the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies.

His work has provided a new direction for the CFL’s team and player stats, as he has created the league’s first comprehensive database to provide media members and the CFL with real-time, in-game access to all new analytics.

“I do a little bit of travel during the season to work with the stats crew at a particular stadium, but my primary travel is for league meetings. Other than that, stats central for the CFL is Ladner, B.C.,” he said. “I audit, and this is something the NFL does not do, I audit every game and every play live from here. The only exception is I also work for the B.C Lions, so I do their games from BC Place, but any other game, I’m watching every play from here in Ladner.”

As part of the CFL’s Football Operations Team, Daniel leads the development of systems that report on the quality of the CFL in support of the Rules Committee, of which he is a contributor and member.

“When I was a kid, we didn’t have Internet. I loved following baseball and the Dodgers and stats. I would do stats on the floor of my bedroom, and it was really interesting,” he said. “I loved it but went away from that and got another job – at BC Hydro. I was there for two decades, and it was okay, but I was laid off with a whole bunch of people. I was then fortunate enough to know some people with the Trailblazers. They were really kind to me and showed me how the NBA worked, how statistics worked. I went down to Portland many times and one of my last visits to Portland, they introduced me to Stu Jackson [president and general manager] from the Grizzlies.”

Following that encounter he was hired to take care of stats and media for the Grizzlies and then eventually, the CFL.

“I love it. I really do. Stats are my life,” he said. “I teach archeology as well at UBC and I’m just about finished my PhD. The core skills as an archeologist are the same as a CFL statistics analyst – it’s all data and analytics.”

Stats are now more important than ever in sports as they are a key component to a team’s success on and off the field.

Stats for players are now tied into contract negotiations as well, meaning some contracts are based on stats and the performance of players and are incentive-laden, which makes the work that Daniel and his team even more important.

“The players, they argue over who sacked the quarterback, because it’s not always clear, so I have to make those decisions,” he said. “The players love this work because they get accurate, fair decisions. I can give them numbers that they have never had before. The whole idea was to take records that were just on paper and now I have built this database of our [CFL] history back to 1907 right up to current of every game, every play. The database is huge and the ones who benefit are the players and the teams.”

This November when the Grey Cup is hosted in Vancouver, Daniel will be inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in the Media Wing alongside TSN Vancouver Bureau Reporter Farhan Lalji.

Daniel will become only the second CFL stats member to be inducted into the Hall.

“What an honour. I showed up to the selection meeting and I saw my name on the agenda, and I wondered why,” he said. “Wally Buono was the one who seconded my nomination. I was overwhelmed…so grateful. Wally is a good friend, so that was such an honour to get his nomination. This is not real work. This is for the fans and the teams to share this information, so to be recognized in this way, is truly special.”


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