Super Bowl Sunday and Hall of Fame Happenings

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. My recap will not be coming out until tomorrow. I will be watching the game with friends, rather than live blogging. The world will survive.

There is plenty of football news, from the positive to the negative to the controversial.

The negative comes in a pair of criminal allegations that always seem to be timed to mar the game.

The first involves Warren Sapp. He was arrested Saturday in a domestic violence dispute. NFL Network has removed him from Super Bowl and other NFL coverage pending an investigation. The former Buccaneers and Raiders defensive standout had crossover appeal when he was on “Dancing with the Stars.”

The only thing I can say is that we do not have all the facts. I will wait and see.,0,3150440.story

On Friday, another Hall of Famer and NFL analyst faced accusations when Michael Irvin was accused of rape. The former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has had trouble with drugs and women in the past, and time will tell if this new allegation has legs. The alleged incident happened three years ago, which works in Irvin’s favor. The timing seems suspicious.

The day before the accusations hit the airwaves, Irvin sat down for an interview with Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star. Whitlock might be the best sportswriter in the country, and his take on Irvin is fair and thoughtful.

Making the segue to Hall of Fame announcements, I still maintain that Michael Irvin’s induction speech is one of the great sports speeches of all time. Like Whitlock, I hope Irvin is innocent of the new charges.

The 2010 Hall of Fame class was just announced. As expected, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were locks. Joining them were John Randle, Russ Grimm, and Rickey Jackson, along with seniors Dick Lebeau and Floyd Little. None of these were bad choices, but Charles Haley missing the cut was a shocker. The man has five Super Bowl rings. Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed, and Shannon Sharpe all missed the cut. Apparently there was a concern about too many receivers all at once. They should all get in sooner rather than later.

The NFL does a lot right, but there are some serious flaws in the Hall of Fame selection process. All the choices this year were fine, but too many people get left out due to category problems.

They should separate coaches from contributors. We watch the players, but there is an anti-contributor bias due to the number of quality players.

On the coaching front, Don “Air” Coryell absolutely merits inclusion. He learned from Sid Gillman, and taught Mike Martz. There is no “Greatest Show on Turf” without him.

Paul Tagliabue is one of the greatest sports executives of all time. It is tough to choose between him and Pete Rozelle, but Tags is at least Rozelle’s equal. Twenty years of labor peace and blockbuster teelvision deals means a record of virtually total success.

I was shocked to find out that Ed and Steve Sabol of NFL Films were not in the Hall of Fame. Ed Sabol should have been included years ago.

John Facenda might actually be the voice of God. God belongs in the Hall of Fame.

John Madden rightfully made it as a head coach, but he should have gone in as an announcer. Also deserving are Al Michaels and the very underrated Pat Summerall.

I would also consider ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman. “NFL Primetime” revolutionized how we watch football highlights.

The bias against special teams players has to stop. With punters, Ray Guy deserves it, and Shane Lechler one day should get in.

With kickers, Adam Vinatieri, Morton Anderson, Gary Anderson, and Sebastian Janikowski are some of many who should one day be considered.

Steve Tasker absolutely belongs in the Hall as a special teamer.

Also, how can we ignore the return men. Billy “White Shoes” Johnson was the original game changer (and the best dancer in the history of the game, sorry Ray Lewis). Mike Nelms, Vai Sikahema, Mel Gray, and Bryan Westbrook all got it done, and Dante Hall and Devon Hester took it to the next level. None of these players were thrilling on offense or defense, but special teams matters.

How about coverage guys? Anybody crazy enough to bust up a wedge on returns is special. Longtime Cowboys standout Bill Bates leads this group.

Getting back to contributors, it seems unfair that head coaches can get inducted but not assistant coaches. This is like inducting a quarterback but ignoring the offensive line. Some guys were only moderately effective or worse as head coaches, yet flourished as coordinators.

On the defensive side of the ball, Buddy Ryan should get in. He is the greatest defensive coordinator of all time.  Dom Capers should one day be looked at as well.

On offense, Bob McKittrick and Joe Bugel should go in as offensive line coaches. Bugel coached the “Hogs.”

The NFL has to fix these deficiencies. We all know about Peyton Manning, but he has had the same center his entire career, Jeff Saturday. Centers are famous compared to the many unsung heroes I have listed.

One other thought is whether non-football achievements should be considered. I feel that only activities specifically connected to football should get a player inducted. However, special achievements could lead to them getting an exhibit in Canton. While Pat Tillman is not in the Hall as a player, there is a Pat Tillman exhibit dedicated to the player who walked away from football to serve his country in Afghanistan. The exhibit is poignant and totally appropriate.

I would consider exhibits for guys like Warrick Dunn and Darrell Green. Green is in as a player, but both of these guys should be recognized for their charity work. I am not saying put Warrick Dunn in as a player. Just recognize his charity work with an exhibit. Every year he helps a single mother own a home.

On the lighter side of things, a hilarious Web site called “Loserville, USA” discusses the fact that nobody on the Atlanta Falcons has ever been inducted. Despite having the required last name, Falcons cornerback Deangelo Hall does not belong there.

It is never too early to debate the 2011 class. The five first ballot candidates are Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Dick Vermeil, Curtis Martin, and Jerome Bettis.

Deion and Marshall should get in on the first ballot. The others should wait awhile, perhaps not getting in at all only because so many of the others I mentioned are waiting far too long.

Anyway all, time to enjoy the Super Bowl.

(Prediction: Colts 38, Saints 24)

Enjoy the game everybody!


One Response to “Super Bowl Sunday and Hall of Fame Happenings”

  1. There is one Falcon that should definitely get in and that’s Deion Sanders. Really, if you ask me or just check the stats, his best years were with that team. He was the panultimate shut-down corner on what was one of the all-time best secondaries, which was Atlanta’s in the early ninties. He was also an all-round player, particularly in special teams, and his return stats, during his Falcon years, were among the best. I believe he will be eligible next year.

    Now, I know some people hate Neon Deion. He is a character, controverserial and flashy. He had a reputation for avoiding making big hits, and I saw a few times when he seemed to get out of the way rather than put his body on the line, especially later in his career. But nothing he didn’t do ever his teams anything, and everything he did do always helped them. He has two rings and he more than helped his teams get them both. So I believe he should be a lock as soon as he is eligible.


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