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It's SB49 but let's talk Atwater to HOF, 'No media' Marshawn, Manning does good

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When the Seahawks and the Patriots square off on Sunday night, I'll be watching my favorite Broncos highlights, which obviously include Super Bowl 32. I know you shouldn't live in the past, but it works quite well when the present is a drag. And then I'll dream of the future and our 19-0 record next season.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Now that the Broncos coaching questions have been answered but it's too early to argue over players, I have some discussion homework for you all before the weekend.

Of course, since there's not really an important game on Sunday, you can save it for then if you'd prefer.

And don't panic...you only fail if you don't participate.


Topic 1: Atwater to the HOF

The NFL Hall of Fame inductees for 2015 will be announced Saturday night, and there are two very deserving Broncos among that group - running back Terrell Davis and safety John Lynch (stay tuned for MHR stories on each).

Both are Hall-of-Famers in my opinion (TD unquestionably), but both are on the bubble for earning that gold blazer and a bust in Canton.

But if we're going to have any conversation about potential HOF safeties, then let's give a Mile High Salute to one of the best free safeties to don the Orange and Blue uniform - Steve Atwater - who should absolutely be in the Hall of Fame

For a quick reminder of what a stud Atwater was, check out this clip originally created by Jon Heath:

In 10 seasons with the Broncos and one final year with the Jets, the Chicago native logged five sacks, 24 interceptions, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, nearly 1,100 tackles and one near-knockout on the "Nigerian Nightmare" Christian Okoye of the Chiefs.

Atwater earned eight trips to the Pro Bowl and helped bring Denver two Super Bowl trophies. And as we head into Super Bowl weekend for a game our favorite team is unfortunately not playing, I can't think of a better Broncos era to reminisce about than the late 90s.

Discussion points: Do I even need to ask if you agree with me on Atwater's inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I didn't think so.

This man deserves to be in Canton too.


Topic 2: Sports media and the Super Bowl

Marshawn Lynch has been getting more media attention for not talking to the media than just about any player not discussing DeflateGate this week in Phoenix.

But if you think Lynch doesn't want the attention, you are so, so wrong.

He knows what he's doing. In fact, his little gig is the hottest press conference in town. As Deadspin writer Tom Ley pointed out in the ultimate of ironies, reporters are mad at Lynch for giving them a much better story than if he had answered their banal questions:

"No, seriously, this guy is mad at Marshawn Lynch for showing up at Media Day and giving columnists something to write about, which is literally what he was asked to do."

While I don't care for his attitude and don't buy that he really doesn't want the attention, I actually don't blame him.

As Dashiell Bennett of The Atlantic notes, for the most part, nothing interesting comes out of these press conferences anyway.

"Athletes are notoriously guarded, and the questions are inane. Inquiries like, "How did you feel?" and, "Talk about that one play," typically receive canned, clichéd responses or pointless platitudes about giving "110 percent" and never quitting. Then all 12 reporters reprint those quotes in 12 different media outlets and fans are none the wiser about the people or the game they love."

Exactly. I hate that second week of Super Bowl hype (and not just because I don't care for the Seahawks or Patriots...I didn't like it last year either).

The hype drags on forever, there are no more good football angles to cover, all the advertising companies have released their full, uncut commercials online anyway, reporters ask terrible questions and the players can't possibly be getting any more rest and/or prep (which would be the only good rationale for having a second week).

Discussion points: Good idea or bad to have two weeks before the Super Bowl? And, is Lynch exploiting his "not talking to the press M.O." here or is he really just that annoyed?


Topic 3: Why I'm rooting for the Pats

I know, I know. Blasphemy. Many of you would much prefer to see the Patriots go down in flames on Sunday than hoist a Lombardi. I don't blame you. After all, a hated AFC rival is a hated AFC rival - which almost always beats out even an NFC team that has had our number too often of late.

But barring any well-timed natural disaster, I'm going to be hoping the Patriots pull this one off on Sunday. Do not fear, I have no love for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady nor Gronk - all of whom have combined to expose the Broncos' weaknesses way too many times and have been part of a cheating culture for way too long.

And even though I believe - and secretly hope - if the Pats win, it will add an asterisk to the entire season because of the cheating cloud hanging over the New England locker room, that is not my main motivation this weekend (though, nothing will make me happier about this season than if the final game - the one we could not be part of - remains shrouded in suspicion).

In honor of my friend, good rivalries and a prayer for bragging rights next year, I'm cheering on his favorite team this weekend. Or at least, for the other team to lose.

No, the reason for my Pats support this time is in honor of a reader who is both a Pats fan and a good man. Since week 9 when our hated AFC rivals silenced the Broncos, he has read my stories and emailed with humorous insight to the Broncos' woes and some down-to-earth critique of his own favorite team's success.

I look forward to his emails every Monday because it reminds me what fun sports rivalries are - nothing (too) personal, just good fun and the hope that you get to be the one bragging the following week.

My friend's 93-year-old dad (also a long-time Patriots' fan) passed away last week ... so in honor of them, good rivalries and a prayer for bragging rights next year, I'm cheering on his favorite team this weekend.

Or at least, I'm really cheering for the Seahawks to lose (which isn't hard...I really can't stand them.)

Discussion points: Which team are you hoping more to lose?


Topic 4: Great honor for Manning

Peyton Manning is in Phoenix today to accept a highly deserving award voted on by his NFL peers - the Bart Starr Award for leadership and character.

I can't imagine there's a better player out there for this award, but it's great to see his teammates and competitors alike feel the same.

Congrats, No. 18!

Discussion points: Should Peyton Manning...haha - just kidding. I think we've covered that one enough.


Last but not least, SB32:

There's no discussion needed for this...just enjoy reliving highlights of one of our greatest seasons ever and this Super Bowl gem that never gets old:

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Horse Tracks - HOF edition

Terrell Davis smiling 'ear to ear'
The Broncos' star running back from 1995-2001 and at least half the reason the Broncos have two Lombardis is excited and nervous that he finally advances to the 15 HOF finalists.

Marshall Faulk believes TD deserves to be in the Hall
Another Hall of Fame running back believes our own Terrell Davis has earned that golden jacket and bust in Canton.

2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalists: Who gets voted in?
Power ranking the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists and predicting who ends up in the hallowed halls in Canton, Ohio, from the 18 finalists.

The broken Hall of Fame voting system - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
Over the weekend, I saw The Imitation Game, the story of British mathematician Alan Turing. Turing helped crack the German Enigma code machine during World War II. ...It reminded me of the Hall of Fame.

John Lynch faces uphill battle for Hall of Fame - ESPN
John Lynch was one of the hardest-hitting safeties ever. But that might not be enough to convince the voters to put him in the Hall of Fame.

Horse Tracks - Super Bowl edition (aka "do we really care?")

Power Ranking Every Super Bowl MVP | Bleacher Report
Guess which former Bronco ranks the highest in this list? (hint: the guy hoping to be named to the HOF this weekend)

Marshawn Lynch Doesn't Need to Talk to Anybody - The Atlantic
Is giving interviews part of an athlete's job or is the sports media "machine" simply broken?

Marshawn Lynch lectures media, shouts out everybody - SBNation.com
Marshawn Lynch's latest press conference may have been his best yet.

What we learned from Thursday of Super Bowl week - NFL.com
Marshawn Lynch's uncomfortable news conference made waves, but Thursday reminded us there's 30 teams not in the Super Bowl. Will Peyton Manning return? Is DeMarco Murray in the Cowboys' plans? Here's what we learned.

Horse Tracks - Broncos+

Manning to receive 2015 Bart Starr Award
Peyton Manning was chosen by the players of the NFL to receive the 2015 Bart Starr Award, an annual honor given to a player who exemplifies character and leadership on and off the field.

Through the Years: Wade Phillips
Check out photos from Wade Phillips' coaching career, including a stint as the Broncos' defensive coordinator from 1989-1992 and head coach from 1993-1994. All photos from Associated Press.

Tom Brady wants Peyton Manning to return in 2015
Patriots QB Tom Brady told reporters on Thursday that he hopes his friend and rival QB Peyton Manning returns to the Broncos next season.

Blandino: NFL to talk expanded use of instant replay - NFL.com
Head of officiating Dean Blandino discussed a variety of matters at a news conference Thursday, ranging from game balls to instant replay. Check out our biggest takeaways.

NFL Says Concussion Rate Among Players Fell 25 Percent in 2014 Season
There were 111 recorded concussions during the 2014 NFL regular season, which was an improvement upon the 148 concussions suffered in 2013.

Tim Tebow wins $40,000 at Phoenix Open pro-am celebrity challenge
Tim Tebow won $40,000 at the Phoenix Open pro-am celebrity challenge.