by Eric Fulton
There will be many men who deserve a chance to wear a gold jacket in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This year there are 15 men that have a chance to make the cut for the ceremonies this August. I have chosen the following five guys who I think deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
There’s no doubt Brett Favre is one of the top five or 10 quarterbacks to ever play the game. He held almost every major passing record in NFL history until Peyton Manning set a whole new standard. Also, he was the most durable quarterback in league history starting over 200 consecutive games with 186 victories. Though he was indecisive about retiring earlier in his career, there is no way you can deny he is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Kurt Warner’s story is perhaps the greatest underdog story not only in football history, but also sports history. He won two regular season MVPs with the St. Louis Rams. Plus, he helped one franchise who is not known for winning (Rams) win a Super Bowl title and almost won with another (Cardinals). While he did not have a 15-20-year career, he made the very best of his opportunity in the NFL.
Coach Tony Dungy will always be known as the coach who turned around the fortunes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While he did not end up finishing what he started, he laid his foundation by becoming a great assistant coach. His years as Indianapolis Colts coach will always be remembered as a team that were consistent, which led him and the team to their only Super Bowl title.
Kevin Greene was one of the most feared defensive players in the ‘90s. He was also one of the smartest football players ever, especially when he was playing the Bill Cowher-led Pittsburgh Steelers defense. You can ask quarterbacks how good he really was as Greene tallied 160 sacks for his career. Even though he was not first ballot, Greene still deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Simply put, Marvin Harrison was one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game. Of course, he had to have a really good quarterback to throw the ball to him. For Harrison, it was Peyton Manning that threw him the ball many times in which it would build a Hall of Fame resume. He is the only wide receiver in NFL history to have eight straight years of 1000 plus yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in a season. Definitely a remarkable career indeed.
To see who will be inducted into this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame, watch the announcement during the NFL Honors on Saturday, February 6th (the day before the Super Bowl) on CBS.
by Julian Spivey
It’s always controversial to discuss whether a sports team won a game or whether their opponent lost a game and which one happened is always up for debate. Then there are those fans who hate the discussion altogether and automatically assume the winning team always won the game instead of benefiting from the opposition losing.
As great as the Denver Broncos defense was on Sunday during the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, making the Pats offense look the worst I’ve ever seen it, I can’t help but feel the Patriots ultimately gave the game away and not so much the players on the field, but the head honcho on the sidelines.
I don’t mean to take anything away from the Broncos defense, especially linebacker Von Miller who had a career day with 2.5 sacks (a Broncos postseason record) and an interception, but the Patriots should’ve won the game despite their offensive struggles had coach Bill Belichick been a little more conservative with his play calling in the fourth quarter.
Yes, despite the fact that you seemingly haven’t heard this from anyone else – I believe Belichick’s coaching cost his team the game.
The Patriots were down eight points due to kicker Stephen Gostkowski (who has become the scapegoat) missing an extra point attempt early on in the game, so Belichick knew he not only needed a touchdown, but a 2-point conversion just to tie the game up with about six minutes left in the game. This thinking ultimately cost him and his team the game and chance at defending their Super Bowl title.
Neither offense had been moving the ball very well during the second half of the game, so Belichick should have put a little more faith in his defense to get his offense the ball back – which they repeatedly did over the last six minutes. Because of this if Belichick had just played conservatively and kicked a field goal on two consecutive fourth downs (with 6:03 and 2:25– with all three timeouts and the two-minute warning remaining on the clock respectively), instead of going for it on a great Broncos defense both times his team would’ve only needed a late field goal to win the game and Gostkowski (arguably the best kicker in the NFL) likely would’ve redeemed himself
Coaches get paid to make the tough decisions – and we at home can play Monday Morning Quarterback all we want – but what has gotten me puzzled is the lack of people calling Belichick out for his decisions late in the game. Not once did we hear CBS announcers Jim Nantz or Phil Simms question Belichick’s decisions to go for it instead of taking the easy points and as someone who follows the games live on Twitter, as well, I can tell you that almost none of the experts on networks like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 were disputing Belichick’s decisions – in fact, most claimed the decision to go for it with six minutes remaining in the game was the right call. I will note that ESPN’s Bomani Jones was the lone journalist seeming to disagree with the call on social media.
I think had it been any other team besides the Patriots and any other coach besides Belichick that we would be seeing articles and tweets and possibly have heard on-air comments about how the coach made the wrong decision to go for it both times instead of kicking and how they should have had enough faith in their defense to get the ball back for them. I believe because it’s the “mad genius” Bill Belichick – arguably one of the two or three greatest coaches in NFL history and a no-brainer future hall of famer that people are giving him a pass. I don’t believe that’s fair.
Sometimes the “mad genius” can just end up looking mad and I think that’s what happened on Sunday afternoon. It’s not unheard of for an offense to be able to score just nine or 10 points in a six-minute span in football, especially with the way the other team’s offense is failing to move the ball. Belichick kept acting like he needed eight points the entire time and it ended up killing his team. Three field goals is all it would’ve taken to win that game and the Patriots offense and defense both proved that it could’ve easily happened – Belichick’s stubbornness got the best of him. And, unlike so many, I’m not afraid to say it.
by Eric Fulton
After 17 weeks and 256 games, the 2015 National Football League regular season has concluded. There are 12 teams left in the quest to win Super Bowl 50. I will rank the teams from least likely to most likely to win the Super Bowl.
12. Houston Texans (9-7)
The AFC South Champions benefited from an easy schedule and a weak division. J.J. Watt should be favorited to win another NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. However, Brandon Weeden will get his first career playoff start this weekend. At least Weeden is not in Dallas.
11. Washington Redskins (9-7)
Another division winning team that came from a bad division (NFC East). They also have another quarterback that is making his playoff debut this weekend in Kirk Cousins. Even with home field advantage, many people don’t think they will go far in the playoffs.
10. Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
The Vikings won the NFC North at Green Bay on Sunday night. Mike Zimmer should be the favorite to win Coach of the Year. However, Teddy Bridgewater is starting his first playoff game and the team they are facing in the Wild Card game Sunday are on a mission.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Despite winning the AFC North title, the Bengals are not sure if they will have Andy Dalton start their game on Saturday. If Dalton is not available, A.J. McCarron will get the start. Can the Bengals finally win a playoff game under Marvin Lewis? This weekend’s game will not be easy.
8. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
The Packers lost an opportunity to host a playoff game after losing to the Vikings in week 17. Since starting 6-0 earlier in the year, the Pack have fallen on some hard times. Can Aaron Rodgers rally his team and help Green Bay recapture their playoff magic?
7. Denver Broncos (12-4)
The Broncos benefited from not only winning their division, but also getting a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Now the question is who starts the first playoff game in two weeks: Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler? Either way, they must have good quarterback play or they will easily be one and done.
6. Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
The Cardinals are led by MVP candidate Carson Palmer. However, can the Cardinals stay healthy in order to make a run toward the Super Bowl?
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
The Steelers have proven that if you have good quarterback play and great defense in the playoffs, you have a chance to go all the way. Will they be able repeat the magic they had going during their Super Bowl XL run?
4. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Andy Reid’s Chiefs were one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season. While not a lot are picking them to win without the services of running back Jamaal Charles, they can still make a ton of noise in the AFC.
3. Carolina Panthers (15-1)
The NFL’s best team all year long thanks the shoulders and legs of MVP favorite Cam Newton. While the Panthers, may have the best record, they seemed beatable as of late. Certain teams in the NFC will have the chance to knock them out before the Super Bowl.
2. New England Patriots (12-4)
The Patriots have not looked good losing four out of their final six games of the regular season and losing home field advantage throughout the AFC. However, the defending Super Bowl champs have proven time and time again how to win in the playoffs.
1. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
The Seahawks have been one of the league’s hottest teams in the second half after a rough start to their season. Now the team is firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been playing great football in the second half. They could get running back Marshawn Lynch back this weekend, which would be huge. They are on a mission to right the biggest wrong of last year and they will be dangerous.
The Word's Julian Spivey and Eric Fulton share their Baseball Hall of Fame ballots if they had a vote. Each contributor had the opportunity to vote for up to 10 players. Julian used up his entire ballot. Eric voted for seven players to be inducted.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Julian Spivey: Ken Griffey Jr. is the gold standard for Major League Baseball. He did things the right way in an era where most of the stars seemed to do the exact opposite. His career numbers would be even better had it not been for injuries hurting most of his last decade in the game. Some people are speculating whether or not Griffey might be the first ever unanimous Hall of Fame inductee (but, I don’t believe that’ll ever happen).
Eric Fulton: The best baseball player in my generation. He is perhaps the definition of a five tool player.
Julian: Mike Piazza should’ve been a first ballot hall of famer, bar none. But, here he is on his fourth year on the ballot and has been the very worst victim of the era he played in. Writers have been reluctant to vote Piazza into the hall simply because they can’t be sure he never used performance enhancing drugs despite no evidence he ever did. I’m all for keeping PEDs users out of the hall, but I need some evidence.
Eric: He is the best offensive catcher ever. Another person who deserves better credit.
Julian: Jeff Bagwell is another victim of the era he played in. Simply because some writers think there is a chance he may have used steroids they are keeping one of the biggest power hitting first baseman out of the hall. It’s a shame.
Eric: Great first baseman with Houston. Power hitter with a great swing.
Julian: Jeff Kent hit more home runs than any second baseman in the history of baseball – that alone should almost get him into the Hall of Fame. But, for some reason (likely the era he played in, also hurting Bagwell and Piazza) voters don’t seem very interested in voting him in.
Eric: He was the greatest offensive second baseman ever. Definitely a player you would hate to play against no matter what.
Julian: Those who don’t vote for Mike Mussina often throw out the fact that he never won a Cy Young Award, but there are a handful of pitchers in the hall who also never won that award and a dirty Roger Clemens was stealing some of those honors, as well. Mussina’s 270 wins and being one of the most dominant pitchers of his era should be enough to garner induction. I just narrowly chose him over Curt Schilling (who I believe is a hall of famer, I just ran out of ballot spots) due to more wins and a higher WAR (wins above replacement).
Eric: His 270 wins should get him in. He was one of the better pitchers in the American League for a decade.
Julian: We’ve seen enough from hall of fame voters thus far to realize that Fred McGriff is never going to be voted into the hall of fame and that’s a damn shame. I believe wholeheartedly that McGriff is the most screwed player in baseball history. He’s screwed because of the era he played in. Those who don’t vote for him state that he wasn’t good enough in an era of power numbers (despite hitting 493 homers), but he didn’t put up similar numbers to his fellow players because he was doing it clean and they weren’t. In any other era, McGriff would’ve been a lock for the HOF, no clean player has ever been kept out with that many homers.
Eric: Very close hitting 500 home runs. He was very gifted, talented, and CLEAN baseball players who is very under the radar to get in the Hall of Fame.
Julian: Tim Raines is arguably the best the second greatest base stealer in the history of baseball behind only Rickey Henderson, who has often overshadowed Raines’ career because the two played in the same era. Raines also has likely had his hall candidacy affected due to hanging on too long. His peak years say he’s a hall of famer. If I’m not mistaken this is his second-to-last year on the ballot with the new hall changes. Maybe that will help his case.
Eric: He was one of the greatest base stealers ever in baseball. No doubt he was a smart baseball player and ideal leadoff guy.
Julian: Trevor Hoffman was the all-time MLB saves leader until Mariano Rivera broke the record toward the end of his career. That alone should be enough to get Hoffman into the Hall of Fame, in my opinion, but some voters don’t seem interested because they don’t think he was dominant enough nor do some people believe most closers even belong in Cooperstown.
Julian: Lee Smith was the all-time MLB leader in saves until Trevor Hoffman broke his record toward the end of his career and that alone makes him worthy of induction into Cooperstown, in my opinion, despite the fact that he has a losing record and an ERA higher than Trevor Hoffman’s. Smith is in his second-to-last year on the ballot and likely won’t be inducted.
Julian: This is Alan Trammell’s final year on the ballot and he’s not going to make the cut. I used to be one of those folks who didn’t believe Trammell was a hall of famer, until I started seeing how many people who are bigger experts on the game of baseball than I am think he is – that turned me around. Trammell was the second best shortstop in the American League during his era behind on Cal Ripken Jr. He was also part of one of the greatest double-play combinations ever with Lou Whitaker (also underrated). I don’t believe Trammell is more deserving than someone like Curt Schilling, but because it’s his final year on the ballot he gets my vote this year.