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The Wisdom Of Crowds: Cleveland Browns Edition

Sunday, April 15, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

In 2004 James Surowieki argued for deference to the collective judgment of crowds under certain circumstances in his book The Wisdom of Crowds.

Perhaps it is time to really apply that idea to a new area –the NFL draft.

The Cleveland Browns will draft third in theNFL’s annual allocation of college football talent which will be held April 28 and 29.

There is a spirited discussion underway on which of five players the Browns ought to pick:  Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas, or Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.

Within the vast millions of Browns fans, there is one group whose collective wisdom is surely worth sampling: the tens of thousands of season ticket holders who not only buy seats for every game on the schedule, but who also paid significant sums for the seat licenses that allow them the honor of paying for those tickets.

The Browns regularly communicate with us via e-mail –yes, I am among their number though I live in California– but have not yet polled us on the subject of which of these players we would most like to welcome to the club.  It would be an easy enough exercise to conduct, with one vote allocated per ticket.  If a large majority of the paying customers had a definite order of preference among the potential picks, that would be a significant though not of course dispositive bit of data for the management team.  (Had the Houston Texans bothered to ask their season ticket holders in advance of last year’s draft, they would not now be moaning the fact that both Reggie Bush and Vince Young are playing elsewhere.)

It would also make for a very interesting online experiment in valuing the opinion of your best customers, and conducted out in the open would surely be an interest-driver of the sort websites love. 

So, Phil Savage (the GM), give it a whirl.  Time is awasting.  Ask the folks who pay the bills.

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