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Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations

This will probably be a shorter version of ST&NO than normal, because there hasn't been that much going on lately for the Broncos.  The whole league seems to be focused on the Super Bowl, and the Hall of Fame announcements.  Oh yeah, those.

1.  I set off a firestorm about the Hall of Fame the other day, and I don't regret doing it.  There is no other issue which gets a Broncos fan as riled up as the Hall.  Shannon Sharpe not making the list was a travashamockery.  Maybe the approach of trying to get these clowns to vote for Shannon was wrong, though.  I have been thinking that a better approach might be to push for a change in the existing process.

I kind of like the number 100.  If I were king for a day, I would create a 100 person voting group.  It would consist of the commissioner, all 32 principal team owners, 32 team representatives (either coaches or front office types, varying by team,) and 35 living members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, preferably with each team being represented at least once, to the extent that that is possible.  There would be no writers in the voting group.

There would be no limit to the number of entrants.  In the first year of the Bartlett Plan, the committee would evaluate the entire backlog of repeat-eligibles, as well as the first-year eligibles for that year.  In each following year, the committee would  be tasked with voting for all players who become eligible in that year.

With no limit on numbers, the question would simply be, who is a Hall-of-Famer?  If Shannon Sharpe is a Hall-of-Famer, then he should be elected to the Hall of Fame.  If not, there's no saving him for next year.  Each player gets one shot, and either they are a Hall-of-Famer, or they aren't.  There are no numbers constraints, so there's no need for repeat eligibility.  The end.  By doing all voting contemporarily, you ensure that the voters all probably saw the candidates play, and are familiar with their bodies of work.

So, for this year, assuming the backlog had already been cleared, the HOF class would have probably been Shannon Sharpe, Bruce Smith, and Rod Woodson.  If I were clearing the whole backlog of players who are eligible under the current rules, Bob Hayes, Derrick Thomas, and Randall McDaniel would still get in.  They'd be joined by Cris Carter, Terrell Davis, Richard Dent, Dermontti Dawson, Kevin Greene, Ray Guy, Charles Haley, Paul Tagliabue, and Lester Hayes.  That would be 15 inductees in 2009.

Missing the cut on my ballot would be Roger Craig, Chris Doleman, Russ Grimm, Cortez Kennedy, Bob Kuechenberg, Art Modell, John Randle, Andre Reed, Ken Stabler, Steve Tasker, and Ralph Wilson.  They would not be eligible in the future, unless as directed by a veterans committee (which would also be devoid of writers.)  Presumably, Floyd Little and Randy Gradishar would finally get a fair shake from that veterans committee also.

The most delicious part of this idea is that it would leave the sacred cow writers to lobby the voters.  How much fun would that be, to see John Clayton making an impassioned plea in his column, but knowing it is out of his control, like he were Zappa or something.

What do y'all think?  Let's be creative and throw some ideas out there.


2.  I think Jake Plummer should just shut up and play handball.  I appreciate his contributions to the Broncos, but he's not helping anybody or anything by running his mouth now.  The comparison of Jay Cutler to Jeff George was pretty absurd, and the Shanahan stuff just came off as sour grapes.

3.  I think that it would be a really good idea to get some leadership and media relations training scheduled for Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.  I work in the corporate training industry, and believe me, this is not a knock on Jay or Brandon.  All major companies invest in this sort of training for their leaders, and sports teams should be no different.  If people with MBAs from Harvard and the Wharton School are getting focused external leadership training, a couple of football players from Vanderbilt and the University of Central Florida can too. 

There is always a debate over whether leaders are born or made.  The correct answer is yes.  There are definitely innate character traits which portend for effective leadership qualities.  But techniques, strategies,  and ways of thinking can be (and must be) learned, and it is that fine-tuning which is usually the difference between a person who appears to be a good leader, based solely on charisma, and one who really is.  This is Jay and Brandon's football team, and the investment would be worth it.  If a leader would emerge on defense, that would be great, too, but in order to have legitimate power, he'd have to be a star player, and the only one of those we have is Champ Bailey, who is known to be quiet and reserved.

4.  A potential second round pick whom I like is Paul Kruger from Utah.  He is a rush OLB in a 3-4, and would be a somewhat undersized DE (6-5, 265) in a 4-3.  He has a high motor, and really good initial quickness.  He left school as a third-year sophomore, but he's already 22, as he did a 2 year Mormon mission, after his first year of college, when he made the Freshman All-American team.  He started slowly after returning from the mission, and improved as the season wore on.  He looked really good in the thrashing of Alabama.

5.  You should check this out on Pro Football Weekly.  It talks about how the Cardinals employ a hybrid defense, called an Under front, which resembles both 30 and 40 fronts at times, but is closer to a 40 front.  I learned something from it, and I think most of you would, also.

6.  Great Super Bowl tonight.  I was disappointed at the result, but you have to credit both teams for their resiliency.  I was at a really good party, but still found time to take notes.

 a.  Darnell Dockett is a flat-out beast.  He played dominant football tonight, like he did all season, and I believe he was the best player on the field.

 b.  I think the opening drive Field Goal attempt was chicken-(feathers.)  The Steelers are lucky it didn't cost them the game.  From 2 inches out, you always go for it, especially when you have the biggest QB in the League.  Especially, especially if you trust your defense to shut the other team down if you fail.

 c.  Penalties were the difference in this game.  Arizona had too many (although several were bogus,) and it was too much to overcome.  Pittsburgh's 3rd Quarter scoring drive was aided by 3 personal fouls.  Cardinals LT Mike Gandy, who is quietly a Top 10 player at his position, had 3 holding penalties tonight, and all three killed drives.

 d.  The casual observer would say that Troy Polamalu didn't do much tonight, but it was actually worse than that.  The Cardinals ran all kinds of combo routes at him, making him choose between Fitzgerald downfield, and a RB in the flat.  Warner was going wherever Polamalu wasn't.  Polamalu didn't necessarily play badly, but the Cardinals exploited the Steelers scheme, and made him a total non-factor.

 e.  James Harrison made a huge play at the end of the first half, obviously, but the 64 yard TD by Fitzgerald was his fault.  With the Steelers in Cover-2, and the safeties both shading outside the hashes, Harrison failed to get his proper depth in his zone drop, and Fitzgerald took it to the house on him.

 f.  I was very impressed with a couple of small things in the Cardinals special teams.  Their gunner, Michael Adams, (#27) had a great tackle on Santonio Holmes in the first half, and also downed the punt inside the 1 yard line, which led to the safety.  Also Monty Beisel (#52) had a great block on Steve Breaston's long punt return in the first half.  He hit the Steelers player square in the chest, on a play whose angle would have led to a lazier or less skillful block being a block in the back.

 g.  Why in the world wasn't the Warner "fumble" reviewed by the booth at the end of the game?  How will Mike Pereira explain this one?  Does he just give Cardinals fans the bird, live on NFL Network?  Warner's arm was definitely coming forward.

 h.  Al Michaels sucked on play-by-play tonight, but Madden was better than usual with his color work.  On Arizona's first posession, Michaels blew a call, and got me into a semi-argument with a guy I don't know, in a polite-company kind of setting.  F-Minus performance, Al.

7.  For everybody who thinks free agency should be avoided like the plague, remember Casey Wiegmann, and his huge impact, on the cheap, this season.  More on making sense of free agency, and its place in a reasonable player procurement strategy to follow next Monday.

8.  I can't get the name Brian Cushing out of my head lately, for some reason.  I really like that guy.