You probably don’t know who Martin Manley is. I did not really know who Martin Manley was either. (He is best known for creating the NBA’s Efficiency Index.) We never met in person, I do not know anything about his personal life other than that he worked at the Kansas City Star. We did share one common connection–our love of sports and statistics and the combination of both. Manley was one of the many figures on my path to where I am writing today.
We exchanged ideas and e-mails behind the scenes, and I often commented on his website in the past, a Kansas City themed sports site called Upon Further Review. I wrote a “guest” article once upon a time for Martin called “Matt Cassel Needs to Throw More Interceptions”, written in November of 2009, almost a year before I first began writing at the Big Lead. The article itself cannot be found online anymore, as Manley left the Kansas City Star and settled to have the archive rights to those stories, but did not put it on his new site. Here is how he introduced that piece:
Jason Lisk presents a compelling argument that Cassel needs to increase his odds of being intercepted because the benefits of taking that risk outweigh the disadvantages. My only added thought on this is that QB’s rarely get hurt throwing interceptions, but they sure do suffer physically for taking sacks. Anyway, this is a very good piece. Thanks Jason!
Yesterday, Martin Manley committed suicide on his 60th birthday, in what was a long-thought out plan to end his life. He devoted a website to documenting his life and decision to end it, that went public after his death. On June 11, 2012, he decided that he would commit suicide on his birthday over a year later. I sent my last e-mail to Martin Manley after he had already begun the process, on August 22, 2012, entitled “Thanks for the start, man”:
Hi Martin,You may not remember me, but this is Jason Lisk. I wrote a Chiefs specific post entitled “Matt Cassel Needs to Throw More Interceptions” during his first year in KC, and had also written for pro-football-reference.com’s blog.I now write for The Big Lead, and one of my buddies wanted to link to that old story– Chase Stuart at http://www.footballperspective.com/We couldn’t find the archives anymore. Anyway, I had lost track of you when my life got busy– I moved from the northland, had another child, and began writing full-time. I wanted to say thanks for that opportunity. I hope everything is going well and if there is anything I can do, let me know. I found you on Twitter just now and started following. Maybe I can promote certain things so don’t hesitate to let me know if there is something you think would have national appeal.
He responded back, told me that of course, he remembered, and that he had not been able to access the old stories and migrate them even though he had the rights to them. That was our last conversation. Looking back in my old e-mail archives, I was able to find plenty of others–about Todd Haley, about the cool play finders developed by sports reference in 2010, and about our shared hatred of the passer rating formula. He was working at the Star as the guy who worked with the back page statistics, and we talked about the archives for a project I was working on, to look up old game day start time info for NFL games going back into history. Martin told me that he was a “workaholic” during those conversations, that he got 24 days off from the KC Star, but rarely used them.
Oh, and I even found that old Matt Cassel draft I sent him by e-mail almost four years ago. I may re-post it soon, because I don’t think Martin would care.
I feel an immense sadness today, even though we never met in person. From reading his memoirs, I see that we shared many traits, including a lack of caring about what our shoes look like. We had a shared bond of analytical thinking about sports, and I am left wondering where I would be if I did not have my wife and kids (Manley was married twice and never had children) to try to keep my head on the ground, as difficult as it may be.
“The only thing I can say is that nobody alive is more analytical than I am. I know what I can do on a daily basis. I know how many mistakes I make when I type or write or remember or think. I chart everything. I understand trends. I’m making an educated decision that my mind is deteriorating at a rapid rate. I’ve seen it before with Frank and I’m not going down that road – not a chance in million.”
Maybe Martin knew too much, that was something he wrote almost two years before. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s as well, and my uncle has been diagnosed before his 65th birthday. This one hits close to home.
RIP Martin Manley, and again, thanks for the opportunity.