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Super Bowl weekend shows high and lows of professional sports

Pro football's big weekend has come and gone, and there were those that helped the NFL get it right, and as usual, there were those that laid a rotten egg. Two teams of good guys met in the Super Bowl, and although the game wasn't an artistic beauty, it did prove there is more than one way to go about becoming a champion. On the other hand, we may have learned that those on the panel that select members for the Hall of Fame are as clueless as the voters for the Heisman Trophy.

First, the Super Bowl. I was glad to see Coach Tony Dungy and Quarterback Peyton Manning lead the Indianapolis Colts to victory in the Super Bowl. Dungy and Chicago Bear Coach Lovie Smith received much acclaim for being the first African-Americans to lead their teams to the big game. Instead of using the media circus that is the Super Bowl to get on a soapbox and turn it into a political spectacle, they simply reminded everyone that they might have been the first to get there, but not the first to be good enough. They both had the good sense to keep the focus on the game itself, because the point that African-Americans can be successful leaders has long since been proven.

Dungy and Smith are both perceived to be mild-mannered, God-fearing men that take a more subtle approach to preparing their teams. I'm sure they have their moments, but they clearly have proven that you don't have to be a raging lunatic fluent only in profanity to get the job done. I also noticed during the Super Bowl that the talking going on between players from the two teams seemed to be mostly complimentary and pats on the butt. There wasn't a lot of hot-dogging and taunting going on. If these two coaches can discipline their players with their unique approaches, then you would hope the other thirty NFL coaches would take notes.

The talking heads and print media that cover pro sports have always said that Peyton Manning can't ever be considered a great quarterback until "he" wins a Super Bowl. Manning repeatedly said that he did not believe in monkeys on a back, but you know he must be thinking that he is glad to have that monkey off his back. Besides the thrill of victory, he may be mostly glad not to ever have to address that issue again.

Manning deserved the Heisman Trophy from his senior season at The University of Tennessee, but with the help of ABC television and ESPN, the award managed to find itself in the hands of Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson. That was the greatest travesty in the history of awards, so I'm glad that Manning finally got his due. That was also when I personally quit putting any stock in the vote for the Heisman Trophy.

I now can add selection criteria for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to that of the Heisman Trophy. For my money, you can take it all and dump it in the trash. Ray Guy was once again passed over for selection into the Hall, which from now on I will refer to as The Hall of Shame. Don't take that as a reflection of those already enshrined, but a dedication to the 40 lamebrains that vote on who goes in and who stays out.

These idiots are supposedly the best and most experienced in the business of covering pro football. I'll bet somewhere down the line in one of their game stories they made reference to a game being won by a team's punter "turning the field over" or "pinning down their opponent" with coffin corner kicks. Their editors should never allow them to use that line again, or better yet, never pay them to cover another football game.

Former Cleveland Browns offensive guard Gene Hickerson was among those selected for the Hall. His claim to fame? He played 15 seasons from 1958-1973 blocking for future Hall of Fame members Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly. Great, put him in the Hall. My question is this. Since he retired 34 years ago, did Hickerson suddenly become a better blocker on better teams than Ray Guy was a punter for the championship Raiders?

Hickerson's selection proves to me that Ray Guy's omission from the Hall is more than just ignoring the position of punter. I'm not sure, but it reeks of politics. Like most things political, there's nothing we can do about it but wish everyone associated with the NFL could be as apolitical as Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith were last week.

Web posted on Thursday, February 08, 2007

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