Ronde Barber: By The Numbers

At his retirement press conference on Thursday, future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber admitted that he only recently got a better grip on some of the amazing career numbers he posted during 16 years in the NFL.  That is, he knew he had played more games than the vast majority of players, for instance, but he didn’t know the exact number was 243, et cetera.

Most of those numbers have been part of the public discussion for years now.  As he racked up the interceptions and sacks through the years, he frequently became members in new clubs, until the point where he became the only man in the 40-interception/25-sack club.  Listing all of his accomplishments takes a while, but finding a new angle on Ronde’s numbers isn’t easy to do anymore.

That said, the Captain’s Blog has a new one for you, and it speaks to Barber’s incredible durability and career longevity. Continue reading

Tony Dungy Thrilled by Warren Sapp’s HOF Induction

Tony Dungy’s NFL career began in a cradle of Hall of Famers.

Dungy was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1977, which means he joined a roster that already included NINE future Hall-of-Fame players – Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster – plus a Canton-bound head coach in Chuck Noll and an already-enshrined owner in Art Rooney.

Dungy’s playing career lasted just three years but he went into coaching immediately thereafter and would subsequently cross paths with many more future Hall of Famers, such as Dermontti Dawson, Derrick Thomas, John Randle, Lamar Hunt, Cris Carter, Randall McDaniel, Chris Doleman, Warren Moon and Gary Zimmerman.  After Dungy became the head coach of the Buccaneers in 1996, he also eventually tutored McDaniel again in Tampa from 2000-01.

Despite a career spent in the presence of Hall of Famers (and perhaps a career that is also destined for the same honor), it was a unique and special experience for Dungy when former Buccaneer great Warren Sapp got the call to Canton this past February. Continue reading

Separate Hall Ballots Could Be Better for Brooks, Sapp

Late in the afternoon on February 2, Derrick Brooks was in New Orleans, in the middle of all the pre-Super Bowl XLVII activities.  As Brooks made an appearance at an NFL event downtown, his good friend Warren Sapp was about a mile away, in the final stages of an agonizing wait.

Sapp, Brooks’ long-time teammate with the Buccaneers, was one of 15 modern-era finalists waiting to find out if they had nabbed one of, at most, five spots in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.  The field of finalists was so deep and accomplished that neither Sapp nor Brooks could predict with much certainty if the game-changing defensive tackle would get the Hall’s call on his first try.

That’s why Brooks was a mile away, taking part in the NFL event but keeping one eye on a nearby TV monitor. Continue reading

Could the Bucs Be Canton Bound Next Summer?

Warren Sapp will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3 as part of the Class of 2013, in a ceremony held in front of the Hall in Canton, Ohio.  Since Sapp will become the second person in the Hall of Fame who spent the majority of his career with Tampa Bay, it’s a virtual certainty that a group of Buccaneer reps will be on hand in Canton that day, as well.

It’s even possible that the entire team will get a trip to Canton for the weekend.

One day after Sapp and the other six members of the Class of 2013 have their bronze busts unveiled, two teams will kick off the NFL’s 2013 preseason schedule with the annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium, right next door to the Hall.  The two opponents in that game have not yet been announced, but there’s reason to believe the Buccaneers are on the short list of possibilities. Continue reading

Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, By the Numbers

On Saturday, former Buccaneer DT Warren Sapp was chosen for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, sharing a star-studded Class of 2013 with G Larry Allen, WR Cris Carter, T Jonathan Ogden and coach Bill Parcells.  It was a momentous occasion for the NFL’s 27th franchise; as most Buccaneer fans know, Sapp joins Lee Roy Selmon as the only players in the Hall who spent the majority of their careers in Tampa.  G Randall McDaniel and QB Steve Young, another pair of Hall of Famers, each played two seasons in Tampa but are better known for their years in Minnesota and San Francisco, respectively.

So one becomes two, and that may be the most important number associated with Saturday’s news.  Here are some more:

1 – Number of figures from the Buccaneers’ 2002 Super Bowl Championship team who are now in the Hall of Fame.  S John Lynch was eligible for the first time in 2012 and made it to the list of semi-finalists.  LB Derrick Brooks will be eligible for the first time in 2014.  CB Ronde Barber, who is also considered a strong candidate upon his eventual retirement, was still playing this past fall.

2 – Number of players from the NFL’s 1995 draft now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Warren Sapp was the 12th player chosen overall in that draft.  RB Curtis Martin, who was enshrined in 2012, was taken 74th overall by the Patriots in Round Three.

3 – Number of players in the Class of 2013 who were elected in their first year of eligibility.  That ties for the most in any given year since 1970 (when the current procedure was put in place) and marks just the second time it has happened in the last 20 years.  Three first-year-eligible candidates were also chosen in 2006 (Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Reggie White), 1993 (Dan Fouts, Chuck Noll, Walter Payton), 1991 (Earl Campbell, John Hannah, Jan Stenerud), 1990 (Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Tom Landry), 1987 (Joe Greene, Jim Langer, Gene Upshaw), 1980 (Deacon Jones, Bob Lilly, Jim Otto), 1978 (Lance Alworth, Ray Nitschke, Larry Wilson) and 1977 (Forrest Gregg, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr).

4 – Number of seasons in which Warren Sapp led the Bucs in sacks, despite playing alongside Simeon Rice for three of his nine years with the team.  Sapp also had four double-digit sack seasons, one with Oakland, which is the second-most by any defensive tackle after John Randle.

5 – Number of defensive tackles who have been elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility since 1970 (when the current procedure was put in place).  Warren Sapp joins the list, which also includes Joe Greene, Bob Lilly, Merlin Olsen and Randy White.  (Reggie White would make it six if he’s included, but was better known as an end.)

6 – Number of players from the University of Miami (FL) now in the Hall of Fame.  The Hurricanes have been represented in each of the last two classes, as former Miami DT Cortez Kennedy went in last year.  The others are Ted Hendricks (Class of 1990), Michael Irvin (2007), Jim Kelly (2002) and Jim Otto (1980).  Miami is now tied for eighth on the list of colleges with the most Hall of Famers, matching the totals of Illinois and Minnesota.  USC heads the list with 11 and Notre Dame is second with 10.

7 – Number of times Warren Sapp was selected for the Pro Bowl, all during his nine years in Tampa.  That is second-most in team history to Derrick Brooks’ 11.

10 – Number of Pro Football Hall of Famers who were born in the state of Florida following the selection of Warren Sapp.  Florida is now tied with New York for the sixth-most representatives in the Hall.  Pennsylvania leads the way with 29, one ahead of Texas.

16 – Number of defensive tackles now in the Hall of Fame after the selection of Sapp.  That includes several players (e.g. Reggie White) who are listed as both ends and tackles.

85 – Number of regular-season and postseason games the Buccaneers won during Sapp’s nine years with the team.  The franchise had won 88 games during the 19 years before his arrival.

96.5 – Warren Sapp’s career sack total over 13 seasons with Tampa Bay and Oakland.  Among those who primarily played defensive tackle, that is second in league history to fellow Hall of Famer John Randle’s 137.5.

99 – Warren Sapp’s jersey number.  He becomes the third player in the Hall of Fame who wore that number in the NFL, joining two other defensive tackles, Dan Hampton (who also played end) and Cortez Kennedy.  The Hall’s collection of 99s has increased three-fold in the last two years, as Kennedy was just enshrined in 2012.

Open Your Doors for Warren Sapp, Canton

J.J. Watt will probably win this year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, and if not him then Von Miller.  Had those two not had such visibly outstanding seasons, however, you might be hearing a lot more about Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins.  Atkins recorded 12.5 sacks, dominated the line of scrimmage for the Bengals and, according to Pro Football Focus, was one of the four best players in football in 2012.

Here’s how Joel Corry of the National Football Post described Atkin’s potential as the third-year defender began to get more notice in November: “[He] could become the best 3-technique defensive tackle since Warren Sapp.”

Before the 2010 NFL draft, a pair of Big 12 defensive tackles, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy, were widely (and accurately) expected to go among the top three picks in the opening round.  Usually matched with the Buccaneers at pick #3, McCoy was usually described in scouting reports as having a skill set similar to that of Warren Sapp.  Eight months later, after Suh had opened his career with a 10-sack season in Detroit, he was drawing the Sapp comparisons.  After Suh’s career hit some trouble spots in 2011, Lions Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham ordered his young charge to watch videotape of Sapp in action; a Pro Bowl year followed.

Great defensive tackles emerge in the NFL from time to time.  In the middle of the last decade, for a few bright years, it was Atlanta’s Rod Coleman.  Here’s how an anonymous scout described Coleman for the Sporting News in 2004:

“Rod Coleman is to the Falcons what Warren Sapp was to the Bucs in that he can be a disruptive guy who can play the run on the way to the quarterback. He’s probably not as athletic as Sapp, but he’s got great power and great strength.”

Sensing a pattern?

Warren Sapp, the seven-time Pro Bowler who spent nine seasons with the Buccaneers and another four in Oakland, retired after the 2007 campaign but his name is still a constant part of the NFL discussion, and not because he is now flinging around opinions for the NFL Network the way he used to do with offensive linemen.  Sapp changed the game, redefined a position, rejuvenated a franchise and made his own name a lasting part of the NFL lexicon.

That, dear voters, is a Hall of Famer. Continue reading

Eliot Harrison: It’s Sapp vs. Strahan for the Hall

If Warren Sapp is ushered into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, he will be part of an extraordinarily strong Class of 2013.  If Sapp is not a part of that group, it will likely be because of how strong it is.

That’s essentially the point NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison made on Tuesday.  Harrison actually makes one contention and one prediction when it comes to the former Buccaneer great, and they are at odds.  Harrison contends that Sapp should be one of the five modern-era figures inducted into the Hall this year, but he predicts that former Giants’ defensive end Michael Strahan will get the votes to take Sapp’s spot.

The decision is in the hands of the 46 members of the media who are currently on the Hall of Fame Selection Committee.  The group includes one reporter each from the 32 NFL towns, such as the Tampa Tribune’s Ira Kaufman, a Pro Football Writers of America rep and 13 other at-large members such as SI’s Peter King and ESPN’s John Clayton.  They will go behind closed doors on Saturday, February 2 in New Orleans and debate until they’ve reached a consensus.  They will pick at least two and no more than five inductees from the 15 modern-era finalists, and almost everyone believes they’ll max out the class this year.

By Harrison’s estimation, first-year-eligible offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden are stone-cold locks.  He also believes the Hall will finally call for five-time Super Bowl champion Charles Haley and that legendary coach Bill Parcells will make it in after waiting one extra year.

If all of that comes to pass, then there would be just one spot remaining for the other two first-year-eligible finalists, Sapp and Strahan, as well as some intriguing holdover candidates (Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Will Shields, etc.).  Harrison would vote for Sapp over Strahan, but he thinks the actual voters may lean towards Strahan because he “still effervesces in the public eye.”

Still, Harrison makes a strong case for Sapp; check it out.  We’ll be doing the same thing in the Captain’s Blog next week as the vote draws near.

Point/Counterpoint: How do both John Lynch and Warren Sapp make the Class of 2013?

There’s a big announcement just around the corner, and it is generating quite a bit of buzz about possible busts in the Buccaneers’ future. With Mark Dominik behind the wheel, we’re not talking about the NFL Draft, but rather the much more celebrated and sought-after type of bust: those of the bronze sort that can be found in Canton, Ohio.

Currently the field of potential Pro Football Hall of Fame 2013 inductees sits at 27, and it will shortly be chopped down to 15 semifinalists. Past Buccaneer greats John Lynch and Warren Sapp find themselves up for the honor and are widely expected to make it to the next round. Since the maximum number of modern-era selections in a single class is five, it’s time to figure out what it’s going to take for both Lynch and Sapp to make the Hall of Fame Class of 2013.

Names like Larry Allen, Charles Haley, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Bill Parcells and a host of other greats are some of the key contenders. Since you and I are obviously pulling for both Bucs to get their busts this year, let’s not ask, “Will they make it?” Instead let’s focus on what could happen in the final closed-door voting session to make it so.

So, sir, just how do both John Lynch and Warren Sapp make the Class of 2013?

Scott Smith: You’ve framed the issue nicely, Andrew.  I could and would gladly go on at length on the reasons why I believe both Lynch and Sapp should be immediately ushered into the Hall, now that they’re eligible.  But the problem isn’t whether they’re deserving.  It’s whether or not the competition is too strong this year.

You mentioned Allen, Ogden and Strahan, all of whom are first-year-eligibles along with Lynch and Sapp, and those are usually the most worrisome contenders.  (K Morten Andersen is also on the first-year list, and while Hall voters don’t seem too keen on kickers and punters, we are talking about the NFL’s all-time leading scorer here.)  Logically, any of the other 21 finalists have already had at least one crack at it and didn’t get the necessary votes, so they wouldn’t seem like as much of a concern.  However, some of them may have just been squeezed out in particularly strong years, and others may garner support over time.  That happened last year with Chris Doleman, who finally made it in his eighth year of eligibility and second year as a finalist.  Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf also made it in as second-year eligibles in 2012.

That’s why we also have to pay attention to such candidates as Haley and Parcells, as you mentioned. I would also throw in Jerome Bettis, Will Shields, Paul Tagliabue and that three-headed receiving monster of T.C.A. BrownCarterReed.  (I guess one could also take a look at Steve Atwater, Kevin Greene, Joe Jacoby and Aeneas Williams, but I don’t see them usurping any of the above, and we have to draw the line somewhere.)

So, the task is clear: Take Allen, Ogden, Strahan, Andersen, Bettis, Shields, Tagliabue and those three receivers and eliminate all but three of them.

And here’s my take: Sorry, returning candidates, but this year’s group is just too strong for this to be the year you break through.  I think the Hall has a spot for the sixth-leading rusher in league history (Bettis), especially when you compare his numbers to Martin and add in his Super Bowl ring.  Shields, too, given his amazing 12 Pro Bowls and eight All-Pro selections.  I know many were surprised that Parcells didn’t make it last year, and I think his time is coming, but hopefully not this year.  Haley’s best number is his five Super Bowl titles, which is enough in my book.  Brown, Carter and Reed look like they will continue to split the vote for a while, but there is still hope.

But none of those guys had enough support last year to get in, and even if they’ve gained some in the interim, is it enough to blast through this year’s top-heavy class of first-year eligibles?  I don’t think so.

And that’s crucial, because I think Allen, Ogden and Strahan are locks.  Some consider Ogden the greatest left tackle of all-time, with apologies to Anthony Munoz, and there are simply no holes on his resume.  He’s got the 11 Pro Bowls and the nine All-Pro selections, he’s won a Super Bowl, he’s been the NFL’s Lineman of the Year and he had the reputation of an all-time great while he was playing.  Allen’s resume is nearly identical, and he was a member of the All-Decade Teams for both the 1990s and the 2000s.  How could that not be a Hall of Famer.  And if we think Sapp is a Hall of Famer, it’s hard to argue against Strahan, who has an almost identical list of accomplishments (Pro Bowls, All-Pros, Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl ring) plus the NFL’s single-season record for sacks (even if you don’t like the way he got it).

I also think Andersen will eventually find his way into the Hall of Fame.  True, there’s only three kickers or punters in Canton so far, and only one who was exclusively a kicker in Jan Stenerud (George Blanda played QB; Lou Groza played T).  But there’s going to be another one eventually, and wouldn’t you start with the all-time scoring leader?  I just don’t think it will be this year.

So there’s how the two Bucs go in together: Your final class is Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden and Michael Strahan.

(By the way, for this to work, voters have to determine that Lynch was the superior player to Atwater in the end, and it’s close.  Atwater had eight Pro Bowls to Lynch’s nine, two All-Pros to Lynch’s four, two Super Bowls to Lynch’s one.  They both had standout reputations as punishing hitters; Atwater has an all-decade team to his name but Lynch has a defensive back of the year award.  It’s close, but I think Lynch gets the nod because he was such a key figure on a defense that changed the NFL.)

Andrew Norton: As deserving as most of the players on the list of 27 are, you’ve narrowed things down quite nicely and I have to agree with you for the most part on your whittled-down list.

As much as I would love to see the NFL’s all-time leading scorer make the top five, I think it is still out of reach for the time being. With the ever-increasing value of statistics in the NFL, and the fact that the general public now recognizes the majority of kickers thanks to the prevalence of fantasy football, I do see him getting in in the near future, just not in a year as stacked as this one.

That being said, I think that when the five inductees are announced there will be massive cheering heard in Tampa Bay and Dallas. My five selections: Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Larry Allen, Bill Parcells and Charles Haley.

Like you, I think that Larry Allen makes the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Already a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor (which holds 12 Hall of Famers and three past nominees), Allen is largely heralded as one of the best offensive linemen to ever play the game. In 14 years, he made 11 Pro Bowls, was an All-Pro seven times, member of two All-Decade Teams and Super Bowl Champion.

Now, the prospect of why Larry Allen makes it is my main argument as to why Jonathan Ogden does not. It’s not especially often that two people from the same position make the Hall of Fame in the same class. The last time two offensive linemen made it in one year was 2007, but only one of them was a modern-era player. The last time two modern-era offensive linemen have made it together was 2001. That said, Ogden is massively worthy of the title, but I feel that with such a deep field only one offensive lineman makes it and Allen’s credentials give him the edge.

In his place I put Bill Parcells. Last year was his first year of eligibility and I believe that many would argue that he should have made it as a first-ballot inductee. In my mind, he is a shoo-in. He won two Super Bowls and took four different teams to the playoffs. If that isn’t impressive enough, look at the teams that he turned around and made contenders. The Giants were 3-12-1 before he took them to the playoffs. It took him two years to turn around the Patriots and bring them to Super Bowl XXXI. He took over a 1-15 Jets team and got them to 9-7 a year later and 12-4 the year after that. NFL Coach of the Year two times, 183 total wins. I like him.

Finally, I will give Charles Haley the slight edge over Michael Strahan. Haley gets my pick because he has five Super Bowl rings. And its not just that he has them, it is that he was a pivotal player on each of those Championship teams. He was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice, five-time Pro Bowler, seamlessly transitioned from linebacker to defensive end, recorded double-digit sacks in a season six times and was a part of a division winning team in 10 of his 12 seasons.

Strahan is popular, likeable and very public, and that is before mentioning his record of sack in the season. (And since you mentioned it, no, I do not like how he got there.) Being that Charles Haley (and Kevin Greene) are both in contention as well, I think that Strahan falls short of the two.

Did I mention Haley’s five Super Bowl rings?

Scott Smith: Yes, you did.  You couldn’t have emphasized those five rings more if you had painted them colors and arranged them into the Olympics logo.  Of course, neither that stunt nor your above arguments would make me budge from Ogden and Strahan.

You mentioned the “last time” that two offensive linemen got into the Hall in the same year as 2001 (as if that is unfathomable eons ago…ooh, who can remember ALL THE WAY BACK to those murky Y2K days), but didn’t say who they were.  So I will: Mike Munchak and Ron Yary.  (Of course, it also happened just three years before that, too, with Anthony Munoz and Dwight Stephenson, but who’s counting?)  Do you think that’s maybe because…oh, I don’t know…that’s the last time that a single class had two candidates as mind-numbingly worthy as the Allen-Ogden combo.

Your two connected reasons for removing Ogden, as I see them, were that, 1) No way two OL get in at the same time (yeah, right); and, 2) Allen’s credentials are better than Ogden’s.  Of course, you didn’t bother to say WHY you chose Allen over Ogden, so I’ll just assume it’s because you prefer the player with the same number of Pro Bowl bids and Super Bowl rings but fewer All-Pro selections.  Hey, to each his own.  I tend to prefer $20 bills to 19 singles, but that’s just me.

All of that said, I would definitely agree that Parcells and Haley are the two people I most worry about busting up my plan.  I can’t find fault with any of your supporting arguments for those two, and I’m truly surprised they’re not already in.

Fortunately for me, you conveniently paired up our different choices as such: Parcells over Ogden and Haley over Strahan.  So, while I am surprised Parcells didn’t get in last year and the fact that he’s now a second-year candidate (three second-year finalists got in last year) makes him more dangerous, I think I’ve sufficiently argued for Ogden.  Can’t have Parcells if you don’t bump Ogden, so no Parcells.

So now it’s Strahan versus Haley.  And here’s the strange thing about Haley, despite all of your jewelry-based points above: He’s been available as a candidate since 2005.  He was a semifinalist in ’05 but didn’t get enough support to make the list of 15 finalists until 2010 (he has been there four straight years now).  Heck, he didn’t even make the semifinalist list in 2006 before reappearing in 2007.  That’s kinda strange, huh?  Clearly, there is something holding some of these voters back…and remember, that group of voters doesn’t turn over very rapidly.

Still, let’s compare the two pass-rushers.  Yes, Haley has him on oversized diamond rings, five to one (Strahan does have one other SB appearance).  That’s not nothing.  It’s significant.  But does it make up for the fact that Strahan has 141.5 sacks to Haley’s 100.5?  Or that Strahan was once named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, an honor that escaped Haley (but not Sapp, by the way)?  Or that Strahan holds one of the most prestigious single-season records in the history of the game (22.5 sacks)?  Or that he was considered equally dominant against the run (in fact, a 2004 Football Outsiders post called him one of the best five two-way ends EVER).  Correct me if I’m wrong (that would be a first) but I don’t believe Haley had anywhere near the same reputation as a run-stopper.

Charles Haley’s five Super Bowl rings are a unique accomplishment and, to my mind, a ticket to the Hall of Fame, when combined with his 100 sacks.  Eventually.  I just don’t agree that you can bump Strahan to make room for him, so I think you need to go back to the drawing board.  And this time, stop drawing stars all over it.

Andrew Norton: I’m a little offended. You were so civil in your first discussion, but that counterargument seems a little hostile. I do completely believe that Jonathan Ogden does have a place in the Hall of Fame, just not this class. I apologize, as it seems to have put quite a bee in your bonnet.

And since you had so much fun with my first fun fact about the number of offensive linemen per class, I feel that I should follow that up with an even more fun fact making your predictions even more unlikely. The last time that three first-ballot players made it in a single class is 2006 with Troy Aikman, Warren Moon and Reggie White. No class since 1970 has had more than three. And all five of yours, sir, are in their first year of eligibility.

And to add one more note for each of my selections:

Larry Allen played multiple positions, and he did clear holes for that Emmitt Smith character who I’ve read used to be pretty good.

Bill Parcells has more wins than 15 of the 21 coaches in the Hall of Fame and as many or more playoff wins as 17 of them.

Charles Haley has been an available candidate since 2005, but when it comes to HoF voting, he is essentially the defensive version of Art Monk who was voted in on his eighth year of eligibility. He’s overdue, and I think that if Allen makes it, they have to also put in Haley. Also, FIVE Super Bowl rings. He has been on 10.9% of all Super Bowl winning teams. As a starter and linchpin. Come on.

For the record, I do have Jonathan Ogden next on my radar, but Cris Carter and Jerome Bettis higher than Strahan.

In closing though, I think we should really bring things home and talk about who we have in common and who everyone in Tampa Bay will be pulling for: Warren Sapp and John Lynch.

Both were the foundation of the Super Bowl Championship team, one of the NFL’s best defenses in history.

Warren Sapp wasn’t just one of the dominant defensive tackles, he was the dominant defensive tackle of his era. With 96.5 total sacks, seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pros, a Defensive Player of the Year award and member of two All-Decade teams, it is hard to argue that he misses out as a first-year owner of the yellow jacket. And, honestly, who could possibly give a better speech?

John Lynch made nine Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro selection four times, first-team twice. He is on nearly every list of the hardest hitters in the history of the NFL. He piled up 13 sacks, 26 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and 740 tackles in his 191-game career and is one of the most popular players ever to play his position.

We’ll know in the week leading up to the Super Bowl which ones come out on top. Hopefully you’re in a better mood by then.

Hall of Fame Semifinalists Awaiting Next Step

In late November, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee whittled the field for its Class of 2013 down to 27 candidates, including six first-year-eligible players.  At the time, the Hall also announced that the next reduction, down to the 15 finalists, would take place in “early January.”  The timeline on the Hall’s official web site still uses that somewhat non-specific language, but the upshot is that the next announcement should be coming very soon.

And that’s exciting news for former Buccaneer greats John Lynch and Warren Sapp. Continue reading