But most NFL players aren't adults. They are prolonged adolescents with trebled testosterone levels and pockets stuffed with too many C-notes. During Super Bowl week, celebrity chasers and groupies flock to the site city and are a huge temptation on the club scene. For its big games, the Bills were plagued by a player element that was out to all hours—LB Darryl Talley got into a bar fight at 3 a.m. a few nights before one Super Bowl—and performed hungover as a result. (Worried about Tampa's notoriously uninhibited strip clubs, which TMQ views as essential to protecting our sacred First Amendment freedoms, Giants coach Jim Fassel welcomed his players to the Super Bowl city by reading them the details of the local lap-dancing ordinance!) Considering how stacked the early-'90s Bills were, the roster at one point boasting a stunning 16 Pro Bowl players, or three-quarters of the starters, a volunteer from the audience should have been able to win at least one Super Bowl coaching that team.
Still, because he's an admirable person, Levy's Canton chance is strong. The Bill thrown overboard may be Andre Reed. Reed has a fabulous story—from a tiny Division III school (Kutztown State), he became the No. 3 receiver all-time despite playing for a bad-weather team with a run-oriented offense. Yet clouds hang over him. Reed threw his helmet in one Super Bowl, costing his team a critical field goal. Reed shoved an official late in a 1999 playoff contest against Miami, costing Buffalo a touchdown in a game lost by seven. On both occasions Reed was the victim of bad calls, but Hall of Fame players do not act like babies after bad calls. Since the Bills advised Reed to retire, he has taken to denouncing them regularly, even to making the petty rant that if admitted to Canton he wants to wear the burgundy of the Persons, for whom he caught 10 passes, rather than the blue of Buffalo, for whom he caught 941. Reed is known to be a Web enthusiast—Andre, if you read this, there is still time to convince the world you are not a jerk. But that chance won't last forever.
Here are TMQ's proposed solutions to the dilemmas of Hall politics:
1) Affirmation action for OLs. Beginning next year, Canton should "enshrine" nothing but offensive linemen until such time as OLs representation is proportional to OL numbers in the lineup.
2) All Buffalo candidacies should be tabled until 2007, the likely year of Bruce Smith's first eligibility, at which point Canton would hold a Bills-only selection. For that year the Hall would accept Buffalo players exclusively, as many as the selectors can stand, and get it over with.
Failed Prediction Watch: There were many preseason predictions about who would meet in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the sources, TMQ wrote them down:
- MSNBC predicted Indianapolis would win the Super Bowl. The Colts were eliminated in the first round.
- Pro Football Weekly predicted Bucs over Colts. Both clubs will be watching from the comfort of home.
- Sports Illustrated also said Bucs over Colts. Not-even-close prediction by Paul Zimmerman, member, Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
- The Washington Post predicted the championship games would pit the Persons against Tampa and Indianapolis against Tennessee. None made the championship round. Not-even-close prediction by Michael Wilbon, member, Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
- Seeking to improve its odds, CBS Sportsline offered four dueling Super Bowl predictions: Rams over Colts, Raiders over Rams, Persons over Broncos, Colts over Bucs. None of the six teams in the CBS multiple prophecy made the Super Bowl.
- Seeking to improve its odds, the New York Times also offered four dueling Super Bowl predictions: Bucs over Colts, Colts over Bucs, Ravens over Bucs, Thumbtacks over Persons. Of the six clubs in the Times' multiple prophecy, one did actually make the game.
- As part of its meta-forecast (see TMQ's earlier item), ESPN ran no fewer that 15 dueling Super Bowl predictions. They were: Colts over Rams (ESPN plurality, predicted four times), Tennessee over Persons (predicted three times), Tennessee over Bucs (predicted twice), Rams over Colts, Bucs over Jax, Tennessee over Rams, Colts over Persons, Bucs over Colts, Persons over Ravens. ESPN finished 1-for-30, taking 30 chances at predicting clubs in the Super Bowl and getting just one correct, the lone pick of Baltimore.
- Tuesday Morning Quarterback Failed Prediction of the Year: The Sporting News picked the Detroit Lions to win the Super Bowl. Detroit did not make the playoffs.
Waived Super Bowl Starters: A few weeks ago, this column offered its All-Waivers All-Pros. As the Giants and Ravens prepare to meet in the Super Bowl, both led by QBs who were ridden out of town on a rail by their previous teams, let's note the Waived Super Bowl Starters:
Baltimore: Sam Adams, Trent Dilfer, Sam Gash, Qadry Ismail, Kyle Richardson, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Siragusa, Matt Stover, Harry Swayne, and Rod Woodson. Jersey/A: Michael Barrow, Lomas Brown, Kerry Collins, Brad Daluiso, Glenn Parker, Christian Peter, and Dave Thomas. Seventeen of the Super Bowl starters (first teams plus kickers) have been dropped by somebody who considered them no good or washed up.
Victory Speech of the Week: On his final day in office, President Clinton acknowledged that he "knowingly gave evasive and misleading answers" but for goodness sake did not lie! It is reassuring to know that the independent counsel office spent five years and $55 million in taxpayer money to obtain from Clinton two sheets of paper covered with weasel wording. At least the weasels are happy, and they're an important constituency!
Running Items Department
Obscure College Nicknames: TMQ promised an item on obscure team nicknames. Here are the best: