Denver Broncos News: Horse Tracks - 2/6/11

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Broncos' tight end Shannon Sharpe elected to Hall of Fame - The Denver Post
From the fourth grade through the eighth grade in Glennville, Ga., then a town of about 3,000, Sharpe used to catch chickens. The chicken farmer paid him $1 for every 1,000 chickens. "We'd catch between 12,000 and 15,000 chickens a night," Sharpe said. "And it had to be at night because obviously the chickens would panic."

Denver franchise now a fixer-upper - The Denver Post
"Solid," Sharpe said of the Broncos' hiring of Fox. "I think with where the Broncos are, they couldn't take another risk on a first-year guy. Sometimes when you use the word 'safe,' people have the wrong perception of what that means. But they needed a guy who is defensive-minded. They needed someone who is not going to give Tebow the freedom that the Rams gave Sam Bradford last year. You need a guy like John Fox."

Sharpe hoping more Broncos get canton call - The Denver Post
"If I had to venture a guess," Sharpe said, "I'd say T.D. (Terrell Davis) or Rod (Smith). They've had some great players — (linebacker) Randy Gradishar, I think he's probably going to come up on the veterans' committee."

Rugged Tebow plays similar to Big Ben's game - The Denver Post
"He's got a chance to be a Tim Tebow," said James Lofton, the former Packers receiver great. "We're so quick in trying to anoint the next guy as the next so-so. You look at the 32 starters, there's not a lot of cookie-cutters. There are no two QBs who are the same."

Krieger: Sharpe set standard for play, one-liners - The Denver Post
But he also was and is a unique personality who brought humor and joy to a game that often seems to suffer shortages of both. Nationally, he will be remembered at least as much for that.

Sharpe Legacy Lands in Canton
"When you least expected it, as he called himself -- 'Big Game James' -- was going to get you," Rod Smith recalled. "He'd find a way to make a big catch, get a first down and keep the sticks moving. He used to always say, 'If we move the sticks, we'll get six.' He was the master at that."

Sharpe Called to the Hall " MaxDenver
Sharpe was inducted in his third try. Only one of the other seven tight ends in the Hall of Fame had a shorter wait time: San Diego’s Kellen Winslow. Winslow, Sharpe and Ozzie Newsome are the only tight ends in the Hall of Fame who did not have to wait for at least a decade after becoming eligible for induction.

Lloyd on Fox, McDaniels, Tebow and his late bloom - CBSSports.com
Lloyd's obviously stoked about his current situation -- he went from being a receiver who'd never topped 750 yards in a single season (his high was 733 in 2005 with the Niners) to one of the most prolific wideouts in the NFL in 2010 as he piled up 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns for Denver.

Sharpe joins stellar class in Hall of Fame | sharpe, class, stellar - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
"If I had a thousand tongues, I couldn’t say how happy and proud I am," Sharpe said. "I don’t know what I did to deserve this.

Mora explains declining Broncos' defensive coordinator job | All Things Broncos
""When I got on the plane to Denver, I was taking the job," Mora said. ""When I got back on the plane, I knew I wasn’t going to take it.

Shannon Sharpe: Hall of Famer | All Things Broncos
harpe’s election means the Broncos are on a Canton-bound roll. Not one player whose career was identified with the Broncos had been elected through the first 40 years of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the Broncos now have four players honored in the last seven years. Sharpe follows quarterback John Elway (2004), left tackle Gary Zimmerman (2008) and running back Floyd Little (2010).

NFL NEWS: HOF

2012 could be year to break Hall of Fame logjam | ProFootballTalk
If a player doesn’t get in next year, they could wind up waiting a while. The 2013 first ballot class is very impressive: Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, and Michael Strahan are all extremely strong first ballot candidates.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Martin says Hall of Fame inductees deserved it more
"I think the voting committee did a great job selecting the 2011 class. If I were a part of the committee I can't say that I would have voted any differently. I'm not being modest at all, but I truly don't feel that there's anyone in this year's class that I should have bested in the voting process. Of course I would have loved to get in this year but, number one the inductees truly deserved it, number two there's always next year! I thank you all for the recognition and congratulations to this year's inductees!"

Hall of Fame voting never easy -- given the backlog of candidates - Jim Trotter - SI.com
The longest discussion Saturday was 37 minutes, regarding Sabol. With an expanding backlog of players, he faced questions not only about whether he was deserving of selection, but also the larger issue of whether a coach or contributor deserves a spot over a player. The bylaws are silent on that, which means the issue will always be present when a non-player is being considered.

Cold, Hard Football Facts.com: Hanburger heads (another) controversial HOF class
And therein lies the rub. How is it that Hanburger (and fellow veterans committee candidate Les Richter) can go from never getting the merest sniff of the Hall of Fame to getting 75 percent of the vote? We don’t want to be negative. There’s not a single Hall of Famer that we’d suggest taking out – even the guys that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen were great players who sacrificed more for the game than we could imagine. Still, it’s frustrating that the Pro Football Hall committee is such a small and easily-influenced group that seems to have no real rhyme or reason when it comes to electing fringe players.

NFL NEWS: SUPER BOWL

Super Bowl is Hype; And the Hype Is Us - NYTimes.com
In a nation where political and religious topics have become too inflammatory for polite small talk, sports are among the few subjects we can comfortably express opinions about. The Super Bowl is a national "safe topic:" something we can still good-naturedly disagree upon. As such, it has become a touchstone for other national obsessions and anxieties, fears we don’t dare name and objections we are afraid to raise.

Advanced NFL Stats Community: Packers and Steelers fans, enjoy this Sunday
From then on, defending conference champions not named "Patriots" have had only 10 winning records in 20 seasons, against nine losing and one .500 record. All 24 Super Bowl participants including the Patriots have compiled a following-year average 56% winning record, a tad below 9-7.

A Close Super Bowl? Don't Bet on It. - NYTimes.com
Here, then, is a bet that you might be able to sucker one of your friends into, especially after a couple of pregame beers. Offer to bet him that the game won’t be especially close: one team will win by at least 7 points. He may think the bet is too good to be true, but you have a 60 percent chance of winning.

If Super Bowl goes to OT, new rules get first test - Super Bowl XLV - SI.com
"There are a lot of questions still that haven't been answered, because nobody's gotten into the situation yet," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "I'd like the rule had we had it ... all year. Then we'd know what to do before we get to the Super Bowl."

Streak over: Hospitalized fan Robert Cook will miss first Super Bowl - ESPN
The streak is over: One of the four men featured in a national commercial for never missing a Super Bowl game will not be at Sunday's showdown between Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

FOX Statistician Hoping for Anonymity in Super Bowl Booth -- NFL FanHouse
"When the guy breaks the longest run in Super Bowl history, I want to make sure that I'm telling my guy that was it right away," said Sfida. "Four plays later, it doesn't have the same effect if you're like, 'Oh, four plays ago that was the longest run in Super Bowl history.' You gotta be fast. You gotta be accurate. If you can do those two things, you can survive in this business."

FOX Getting Creative With Pregame Show -- NFL FanHouse
In other words, it's not your standard Sunday afternoon football setup. And it's dragged out not over the usual one hour or even ESPN's two, but during a four-hour marathon -- the length of which is dictated not by the merits of worthwhile material, but by the economics of wringing out every conceivable Super Bowl-adjacent advertising space

Super Bowl Teams Feature Mystique, Tradition - NYTimes.com
The players recognize how different these two franchises are from the other 30 teams. It might sound corny when they say "Once a Steeler (or Packer), always a Steeler (or Packer)." Yet it rings true for them, and that doesn't simply stem from success on the field. It goes beyond that.

The Who Gives a Damn Bowl - NYTimes.com
Football and rooting are overlapping addictions, in other words, so if you’re accustomed to spectating as a partisan — and who watches football who isn’t? — it becomes necessary to take a side, even if, deep down, you don’t really care who wins. It’s a pain in the neck, really, trying to figure out whom to root for when neither team has even the vaguest hold on your affection.

For Those With Deep Pockets, Tickets Still Available - NYTimes.com
It is still difficult to gauge which team will have the advantage in fan support at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. Of the sales recorded at ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com, data as of Friday shows that 8.3 percent have come from those living in Pennsylvania, compared to 7.2 percent in Wisconsin. Texas has the largest percentage of the ticket sales at 23.7 percent.

Texas Needs Late Rally to Save Super Bowl Week - NYTimes.com
Bad weather forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, cutting short the time — and the money — fans would be spending in town. And just when things were looking up on a bright and sunny Saturday, snapping a 100-hour streak of subfreezing temperatures, snow was back in the forecast for Sunday.

Super Bowl Quarterbacks Who Were Champs Sooner and Later - NYTimes.com
Some young quarterbacks struggle for years with inferior teams or must wait for an opportunity. Aaron Rodgers, in his first Super Bowl in his third season as the Packers’ starter, stood on the sideline for three years behind Brett Favre. The Broncos’ John Elway got to the Super Bowl in his fourth and fifth seasons but lost both times and did not win one until his 15th and 16th.

Super Bowl Defenses Share a Blueprint - NYTimes.com
It is also the first Super Bowl in nearly three decades matching the two stingiest scoring defenses. The Steelers allowed an average of 14.5 points in the regular season. The Packers allowed 15.

Can a third Super Bowl earn Roethlisberger forgieness? - The Denver Post
Though neither ended in criminal charges, would the people of the Walt Disney Company really feel good about inviting Roethlisberger to their kingdom if his Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium tonight and he is named Super Bowl MVP? Would millions of Americans forgive Roethlisberger, praise him, believe he would be deserving of hero's treatment if he can earn his third Super Bowl victory in six years?

Packers' Capers, Steelers' LeBeau mirror images - The Denver Post
"It's true," said Packers defensive backs coach Darren Perry, who played and coached with both men. "That's the whole walk softly thing. They walk softly and carry the big stick of respect. They're like the fathers and grandfathers of this defense."

Refs get nervous just like players - The Denver Post
"No question," said the NFL's former vice president of officiating, Mike Pereira. "When you get to this one, they say all the right things that it's just another game, but it's not another game. They all know there's 150 million people that are going to be watching, and they all know if they screw it up, it will be talked about for the entire offseason."

Steelers' Mendenhall, Packers' Starks facing tough defenses to dent - The Denver Post
But in the 29 games since that button was pushed by Tomlin — 13 in 2009 and 16 this season — Mendenhall has rushed for 2,503 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those totals include his 1,273 yards rushing this season to go with 13 touchdowns.

NFL NEWS: GENERAL

Saunders: Broken record: NFL ratings on endless rise - The Denver Post
Fans looking for "real" pregame coverage should zero in on two segments. "The Road to the Super Bowl," NFL Films' graphic look at how Green Bay and Pittsburgh got to Dallas, airs at 10 a.m. Producer Steve Sabol notes: "This is red meat for NFL fans. No interviews. No talking heads. Just football action." (There will be commercials.)

Ravens players threatened to go to union about long playoff practices | ProFootballTalk
One sign that Baltimore’s loss to the Steelers was particularly painful: There continues to be stories coming out of some team dysfunction before the game.

Jets issue statement on Sanchez story | ProFootballTalk
The Deadspin article regarding Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez’s alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl included a mention that the team is preparing a statement.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Suh credits Williams, Vanden Bosch for growth
"It's as simple as during camp and the season, me and Corey would sit next to each other in the film room, studying, breaking down guys together, as well as me and Kyle going in early to work on Tuesdays, watching film, looking at guys and looking at offenses together," Suh said from Dallas. "We really do that as a group, but I just (mention) those guys because a lot of times it was just us."

Playoff Bowl Was N.F.L.’s Consolation Game - NYTimes.com
Brown was there with the Lions at the dawn of the Playoff Bowl when the second-place finishers in the league’s conferences played. He was present with the Rams when the format changed to match the losers in a new first round of the playoffs.

Damage to Metrodome Is Felt Beyond N.F.L. - NYTimes.com
It has taken longer than expected for Walter P. Moore, a Texas-based engineering firm, to assess the damage and decide whether to fix the panels or replace the whole roof. Bill Lester, the executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, said the final report was expected to be announced this week.

Colts Will Get Chance to Do What Cowboys Couldn't - NYTimes.com
"It's certainly possible. Peyton is still at the top of his game. His supporting cast is very, very strong. I'd love to see it," Ballard said. "Some people say, 'Oh, no, you don't want that because then you won't have as many visitors.' I don't believe that. Look at Butler. Them being in the Final Four actually generated more interest."

Former Buckeye Schlichter suspect in probe | The Columbus Dispatch
Former Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter, already known as one of the nation's most-notorious compulsive gamblers, is the target of an investigation by local and federal authorities centering on a sports-ticket scheme that has swindled numerous people out of several million dollars, according to sources familiar with the matter.

NFL.com news: Safety group warns athletes about helmet makers' marketing
Mike Oliver, executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), said Friday in a statement: "Claims or representations that a particular helmet is anti-concussive or concussion-proof, without scientific support, can be misleading and dangerous."

Desmond Howard, Phil Simms have confrontation about Simms' son Matt - ESPN
Howard wrote on his Twitter account, "Phil Simms just threatened 2 hit me b/c I said his son was 1 of the worse QBs in the SEC. I told him "LET'S GO!" Howard then tweeted that police intervened so that he could continue his scheduled appearance at the NFL Experience, a Super Bowl event for fans at the Dallas Convention Center.

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick named AP Comeback Player of the Year - ESPN
He also displayed the kind of reformation away from the game that impressed a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Vick received 29½ votes, easily beating Seattle receiver Mike Williams, who got eight.

Advanced NFL Stats Community: Does "the law of diminishing returns" apply to passing?
Does diminishing returns apply to passing? As a QB passes more, should the effectiveness of his passing be expected to decline? Or do mismatches rule and quality win out in NFL contests, so a top-quality QB's performance should be expected to be consistent during an entire game – or even rise as he finds the weaknesses in a defense and maybe even "breaks" it?

Advanced NFL Stats Community: Defense wins Championships ...
Pundits like Easterbrook, Prisco, TV Commentators and - Coaches tell us year in and year out that "Offense sells tickets but Defense wins Championships". But is that true, or is it a myth

NFL DRAFT

NFLPA Game Review - CBSSports.com
The most talented prospect in this game wasn't difficult to discover, even when watching in a public place; Nation DT Kenrick Ellis (South Carolina/Hampton) was continually putting pressure on Texas squad interior offensive linemen to push the pocket, plug up a lane against the run, or hustle to the ball outside the tackles. The 6-5, 336-pound tackle also forced a bad snap by otherwise stellar center Tim Barnes (Missouri) in the red zone in the fourth quarter, leading to a missed field goal.

Kris Durham opens eyes at Texas vs. the Nation | National Football Post
Besides the strong impression made by Miami running back Damien Berry, Hampton defensive tackle Kenric Ellis and Ole Miss nose guard Jerrell Powe at the former Texas vs. the Nation all-star game, University of Georgia wide receiver Kris Durham also helped his cause with NFL scouts this week.

ProFootballWeekly.com - Miller at No. 3 makes sense for Bills
Though many of the top players available in the draft are underclassmen, the Bills' coaches have spent much of their time examining the top senior prospects while coaching the South team at the Senior Bowl. One player who actually fits both criteria is Texas A&M OLB Von Miller, the winner of the Butkus Award in 2010 who registered 27½ sacks his last two seasons as an Aggie.

2011 NFL Mock Draft - Mocking The Draft
2. Denver (4-12)- Da'Quan Bowers- DE- Clemson - The new coaching brain trust in Denver will be making the switch from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 system. The majority of 4-3 defenses are successful if a rush can be generated by the front 4. Adding Bowers to a line that will also feature Elvis Dumervil should allow the rest of the defense to drop into coverage. Bowers would complement Dumervil nicely because of his ability to create pressure and also hold up against the run.

Prospects boycotting Combine, Draft senseless - CBSSports.com
The prospects who elected not to come to Indianapolis would be perceived by teams as selfish, mindless drones following the orders of agents and current NFL players -- not the eager-to-please (and get paid to play) prospects that they actually are.

NFL LOCKOUT

N.F.L. Union Urges Players to Prepare for Lockout - NYTimes.com
"Are the players ready for a lockout? Absolutely not," said Steven M. Piascik, an accountant in Glen Allen, Va., who prepares tax returns for about 65 professional athletes, including N.F.L. players. "Hopefully, a lockout won’t be bad. But we are advising our athletes to maintain a strict budget."

Just How Dumb Does Roger Goodell Think We Really Are? -- NFL FanHouse
The players don't want it. Neither do the fans. "We started this with the fans," Goodell said, with raised eyebrows, signaling that more illogical statements were on the way.

On labor, John Madden says game is "too good to screw it up" | ProFootballTalk
"And what they’re saying is that when we were there, we were the custodians of the game. Players, coaches, owners, everyone in the Hall of Fame. And now these guys are the custodians. I mean these players, coaches, owners, Commissioner are the custodians. They have a responsibility. And they just hope that they get this thing figured out, because it’s too good right now to screw it up."

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