Candidates announced for 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the list of 133 candidates — 110 players, seven coaches and 16 contributors  — up for induction into sports greatest fraternity.  Some of the noteworthy first-time eligible players includes Defensive end Bruce Smith, defensive back Rod Woodson and tight end Shannon Sharpe.  The list also includes non-players/contributors former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams, Jerry Jones, Art Modell and Ralph Wilson.

The Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will be announced later this month as semifinalists. The field will then be narrowed to 15 by a mail ballot. After that the inductees will be selected from among those 15 and the two senior nominees (former Cowboys WR Bob Hayes and former Falcons/Eagles DE Claude Humphrey), who were selected in August by a senior selection committee.  The final list of 2009 inductees will be chosen at the selection committee’s annual meeting on Jan. 31, 2009, in Tampa, the day before the 2009 Super Bowl.

I fully expect the Pro Football Hall of Fame to use all six spots from the 133 eligibles and 2 senior committee choices.  You have to think ’08 omitted player receiver Cris Carter has already locked up one of the coveted spots.  Other candidates that I believe should get strong consideration includes Bruce Smith, Woodson, Sharpe, Phil Simms, Ralph Wilson, Eric Allen, Lester Hayes, and Richard Dent.

Please checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame for some of the players that I felt should be in Canton.  I would also like to see the committee think about inducting former quarterback Doug Williams as his win in Super Bowl XXII was of great social significance.

  

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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Culpepper is almost back in the NFL

After a hasty “retirement”, it seems only a matter of time before Daunte Culpepper is back in the NFL

(Philadelphia, PA) — When Daunte Culpepper announced a very hasty and contrite retirement right at the start of the 2008 NFL Season, I was skeptical.

But as the months passed and the injuries at the quarterback position piled up around the NFL — over 43 quarterbacks have started moving closer to 2007’s NFL record for most starting quarterbacks (64) — you knew Culpepper would get a call.    

Culpepper recently put himself back into the mix with the following statement, “A number of teams have contacted me since my retirement announcement and have provided some important information that has caused me to reconsider returning to the league. As much as I have enjoyed my brief break from playing, I know that I love the game and I have some unfinished business in the NFL. It has never been because of a lack of passion for the game but rather the absence of a fair opportunity to complete and play that caused me to retire. Now that there are some real opportunities that match my desire to play, I will choose the one that is the best fit for both the team and me so that I can continue my NFL career. For the second half of this season, I hope to play a role in helping a team win some games. I want to thank all of those who encouraged me to ‘keep a light on’ for the right NFL opportunity that would eventually come back to me.”

The call finally came this week as Culpepper almost joined the hapless Chiefs and had a physical/workout with the Lions.  In his own words in a recent email Culpepper said, “I had a great workout and meetings with the Lions today”.

We will see if all of the buzz around Culpepper will equate into an NFL contract, but I truly believe a team will take a chance on him.  Maybe the Cowboys (Brad Johnson struggling), Patriots (need veteran backup for Cassel), Packers (need veteran behind Aaron Rodgers), and Bengals (Carson Palmer probably will go on I/R) should join the Chiefs and Lions in taking a look at Culpepper.

For his 10-year career, the three-time Pro Bowl player has passing numbers of 1867-2927, 63.8%, 22,422 yards, 142 TDs, and 94 INTs with 484 rushes for 2536 yards and 33 TDs.  His resume and numbers clearly show he deserves another shot. 

Good Luck Daunte !!

The Philadelphia Phillies Win the World Series

 

The Phillies Win, The Phillies Win !!!!

(Philadelphia, Pa) — I know this a football website, but this native from the Philadelphia area has reason to CELEBRATE !!!!

Congratulations to the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies as they finally finished off the Tampa Rays 4-3 to finally end Philadelphia’s 25 years of frustration since the 76ers won in 1983. 

I was not allowed to go to the 1983 Parade, but you can rest assured that this Friday, I will be at the Parade with over 1 Million of my friends.

Congrats Philly, You Deserve It.

Taking It to the House Game Report: Falcons vs. Eagles

TAKING IT TO THE HOUSE: HOME TEAM EDITION will feature game day blogs. In this series, the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES are featured throughout their 2008 season from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.

ATLANTA FALCONS (4-2) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-3), 1:00 PM EST, Lincoln Financial Field (FOX)

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Taking It to the House Senior NFL Writer Lloyd Vance was at sunny Lincoln Financial Field along with 65,000 plus frenzied Eagles to see if the World Series euphoria that Phillies have created could translate into a Birds’ win in a “Statement” game. 

Pregame Notes: I was pleasantly surprised to see Lincoln Financial Field filled to the rafters during pre-game as I am sure all Eagles fans were up very late Saturday Night to see their beloved Phillies win 5-4 over the Tampa Rays.  After a bye week to rest all of their bumps and bruises, the Eagles are back for this highly anticipated with the upstart Atlanta Falcons.  Plain and simple the Eagles need this game to get back in the NFC East race. Good news should abound for the Eagles as they are (9-0) coming off of a bye under Andy Reid and for the first time in awhile the team is almost fully healthy with RB Brian Westbrook (ribs) and WR Kevin Curtis (sports hernia) returning to the line-up – missed starters WR Reggie Brown (hamstring) and G Shawn Andrews (back surgery). 

The Falcons come into town as one of the biggest surprise teams of the 2008 NFL season.  Led by new head coach Mike Smith, they have comeback from the “Abyss” that was their (3-13) horrible 2007 NFL season, which was filled with pothole after pothole including the Michael Vick dogfighting situation and former head coach Bobby Petrino quitting with three games remaining in the season. The Dirty Birds are also coming off a bye and have a good record but questions have lingered about whether they are too young and if their schedule has been too light for them to be legitimate contenders in the competitive NFC South.  The Falcons-Eagles game will be a special one for Falcons quarterback Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan, who returns to Philly (grew up in the suburbs and played at William Penn Charter in the city) for the first time as a professional.  Ryan, the third overall pick in the ’08 NFL Draft, to play the Eagles as his team looks to close out doubts regarding their contender status at Lincoln Financial.

The all-time series record with the Falcons stands at 14-11-1, so expect a tough physical game in the “Battle of the Birds”. Continue reading

2008 NFL Week 8 Preview

(Philadelphia, Pa) — I have dubbed this week in the NFL, “Statement Week”.  The midway point of the 2008 NFL Season is upon us and now it is time for teams to make their move toward the playoffs or planning for the off-season.  Former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s favorite word “parity” is alive and kicking in the NFL ranks. 

The good thing is that there is so much competition every week with a ‘never-say-die’ attitude prevalent around the NFL.  But the wild thing is that no one has any idea who is going to win when teams line up, regardless of their record.  The weekly upsets have produced a desperate feeling around the NFL.  Jobs are on the line – three head coaches and one GM have already been fired with several others on the hot seat – so fans, players, owners, and coaches are all trying anything to get their team in contention.  The desperation is fueled by an understanding around the NFL that at the midpoint of the season, the sands in the 2008 season hourglass are quickly slipping away and there is little time to change their team’s destiny.

Every NFL team seems to be jumbled between 4-2 and 2-4 (twenty teams) as we hit halftime of the NFL marathon-like season.  The current standings show that there is little separation as there is one lonely undefeated team (Titans 6-0), three (5-1) teams   — Giants, Bills, and Steelers; three (5-2) teams Buccaneers, Redskins and Panthers; three (4-2) teams — Patriots, Cardinals, and Falcons; four (4-3) teams that need to figure out if they are going up or down — Cowboys, Bears, Packers, and Broncos; five (3-3) teams that will either join the playoff hunt or not in the coming weeks (Eagles, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, and Ravens); three (3-4) teams that are up and down too much – Chargers, Vikings, and Saints; five (2-4) teams who are either moving up the ladder or following toward the draft – Dolphins, Browns, Rams, Texans, and Raiders; the reeling (2-5) Niners (fired head coach Mike Nolan this week); and the NFL’s basement dwellers of the (1-5) Chiefs and Seahawks with the (0-6) Lions and (0-7) Bengals bringing up the rear.

This week’s slate of games features several marquee match-ups that will go a long way in establishing playoff spots and moving up in conference standings (only two divisional games). Continue reading

NFL Power Rankings – Week 8

(Philadelphia, Pa) – As we enter the midway point of the NFL season, it is time to say “Cheerio” to NFL fans around the world.  The NFL for the second year in a row will be going global as the Chargers and Saints face-off in Wembley Stadium in London, England in a game that I am calling the “Desperation Bowl”.  Both teams are at (3-4) and coming off lopsided week 7 losses so they need to win badly across the pond.

The Chargers and Saints are not the only desperate teams that are looking to step it up in week 8 as the entire NFL seems to be jumbled between 4-2 and 2-4 (twenty teams) as we hit halftime of the NFL marathon-like season.  The current standings show that there is little separation in the parity-laden league as there is one lonely undefeated team (Titans 6-0), three (5-1) teams   — Giants, Bills, and Steelers; three (5-2) teams Buccaneers, Redskins and Panthers; three (4-2) teams — Patriots, Cardinals, and Falcons; four (4-3) teams that need to figure out if they are going up or down — Cowboys, Bears, Packers, and Broncos; five (3-3) teams that will either join the playoff hunt or not in the coming weeks (Eagles, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, and Ravens); three (3-4) teams that are up and down too much – Chargers, Vikings, and Saints; five (2-4) teams who are either moving up the ladder or following toward the draft – Dolphins, Browns, Rams, Texans, and Raiders; the reeling (2-5) Niners (fired head coach Mike Nolan this week); and the NFL’s basement dwellers of the (1-5) Chiefs and Seahawks with the (0-6) Lions and (0-7) Bengals bringing up the rear.

The division leaders after 7 weeks features some craziness including two-way ties for first place in the NFC South (Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both at (5-2) w/ a 1/2 game lead over the Falcons) and NFC North (Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears both at (4-3) w/ a 1 game lead over the Vikings).  The rest of the divisions feature the following leaders — NFC East: NY Giants (5-1) w/ a 1 game lead over the Redskins, NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (4-2) w/ a 2 game lead over the Rams, AFC South: Tennessee Titans (6-0) with a 3 game lead over the Colts and Jags, AFC East: Buffalo Bills (5-1) w/ a 1 game lead over the Patriots, AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) w/ a 2 game lead over the Ravens, and the AFC West: Denver Broncos (4-3) w/ a one game lead over the Chargers. The NFC East is proving once again to be the NFL’s toughest division as all four teams are at .500 or better entering this week.

Now on to the rankings for this week

1.  Titans (6-0) – The NFL’s last undefeated team ran over the reeling Kansas City Chiefs like a tank.  In a game that will truly tell us if the Titans are for real, Jeff Fisher’s squad takes on the inconsistent Colts at home on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

2. Steelers (5-1) – They may not have all of the big names, but the Steelers put on their hard hat and go to work each week producing “W’s”.  This past week it was the hapless Bengals turn to get pounded by P-Burgh’s running game and defense.  In a highly anticipated playoff type game, the Steelers host the Super Bowl champion Giants in FOX’s featured afternoon game.

3. Giants (5-1) – It wasn’t pretty, but the G-Men continue to put up wins as they did just enough to get passed the Niners.  In a game that will test their character, Plaxico Burress leads the Giants into Heinz Field to face his former team the Steelers.

4.  Redskins (5-2) – An ugly “W” is better than no “W” at all is what the ‘Skins are thinking after squeeking one out over the Browns.  In a possible trap game, the Redskins must go to Motown focused to take on a Lions team that has some weapons.

5.  Bills (5-1) – Buffalo’s boys continue to make believers around the NFL as this past week they took care of business against a Chargers team that badly needed a win.  The Bills go South to Miami this week in search of some sunshine and stuffing the Wildcat Offense as they face a hard to figure out Dolphns team.

6.  Buccaneers (5-2) – Led by a rejuvenated quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Bucs added another nail to the reeling Seahawks’ coffin.  In a put-up-or-shut-up game the Buccaneers travel to Dallas to face their former Super Bowl winning quarterback Brad Johnson.

7.  Patriots (4-2) – ESPN Monday Night Football was alive as the Patriots continued to say, “Wait a second, We are not done just yet” as they pounded the defense weary Broncos.  The tough rejuvenate Rams come to town for a must-win game, which is surprising considering that everyone thought this would be a cake walk a couple of weeks ago.

8.  Cardinals (4-2) – Ken Whisenhunt and his team had a bye week to crow about their big win and sit back while the NFC West division fell behind.  In a game that will go a long way in establishing their identity, the Cardinals travel to Carolina for a playoff type battle.

9.  Jaguars (3-3) – Hopefully the Jags are all healed up and ready to step over .500 after a much-needed bye.  In a game that could be very dangerous, the hard to peg Cleveland Browns come to Jacksonville for a key AFC game.

10.  Panthers (5-2) – John Fox had his team clicking on all cylinders as they dismantled the Saints early and coasted to a blowout win.  In a playoff type game, the Panthers host the Cardinals in a “Respect” game.

11. Cowboys (4-3) – The NFL’s marquee franchise sank to new depths as veteran 40-year old quartetrback Brad Johnson never looked stable in an embarrassing lopsided loss to the Rams.  With their season close to being on the line, the Cowboys look to get all of their offensive weapons involved as they host a red-hot Buccanneers squad.

12.  Bears (4-3) – In a surprising pinball scoring type game, the Bears continued their dominance at home by handing the Vikings a deflating loss.  A much-needed midseason bye is on tap for Lovie Smith and the Bears as they prepare to hold off the hardcharging Packers for the NFC North crown.

13.  Falcons (4-2) – The bye week allowed the young Falcons to heal some bumps and bruises while focusing on catching NFC South leaders the Bucs and Panthers.  In a homecoming game for quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons look to close out doubts of their contender status at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

14. Packers (4-3) – The Packers looked like a rejuvenated bunch as they showed the rest of the NFC that they are indeed contenders as they showed the Colts the door.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers get a chance to enjoy the great weather in Green Bay and heal their injuries during the bye week. 

15.  Colts (3-3) – The curse of Lambeau Field continued for the Colts (3-7 lifetime there) as the Packers turned turnovers into points in an overwhelming loss.  In a make-or-break type game the Colts travel to Tennessee for a marquee match-up against the undefeated Titans on ESPN Monday Night Football.

16.  Eagles (3-3) – Hopefully the bye week allowed Eagles playmakers running back Brian Westbrook (ribs) and receiver Kevin Curtis (sports hernia) to return to the field.  In a crucial game with playoff implications, the Eagles host an upstart Falcons team looking for respect.

17.  Chargers (3-4) – The Bolts found out firsrt-hand just how good the AFC East leading Bills are in a blowout loss.  In a game that means everything to re-gaining momentum and proving that they are legit, the Chargers travel to London, England to face an equally desperate Reggie Bush-less New Saints team.

18.  Broncos (4-3) – The Patriots throttled the fickle Broncos on Monday Night Football in Foxborough.  Unfortunately for head coach Mike Shanahan, he will have two weeks to review the tape of the awful beating at the hands of the Patriots as the Broncos are on a bye.

19.  Jets (3-4) –  In a total stunner the J-E-T-S and Brett Favre looked terrible in an out of nowhere overtime loss to the Raiders.  I fully expect the Jets to get back on the horse as they host the lowly Chiefs sans troubled running back Larry Johnson.

20.  Ravens (3-3) – Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens attacking defense shutdown the Miami Dolphins’ “Wildcat” offense.  This week the Raven look to get back to over .500 as they host the Raiders in a reunion game for the Ryan Brothers (Rex is the Ravens D-Coordinator and Rob holds the same title for the Raiders).

21.  Vikings (3-4) – Despite another Pro Bowl type game from running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikes lost a surprising shootout game to the Bears.  During the bye week I suggest that beleaguered head coach Brad Childress reacquant quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with the playbook as the former starter maybe needed in the near future.

22.  Rams (2-4) – Jim Haslett has dialed up the right mix for the hard-charging Rams as they thumped the “Young and Restless” Cowboys in St. Louis.  We will see if the NFL’s new feel good story continues as the Rams look to make it three in a row as they travel to Foxborough to face the tough Patriots.

23.  Saints (3-4) – The Carolina Panthers showed the Saints why they are currently leading the division as they first knocked Reggie Bush out of the game then dismantled the rest of the team in a lopsided win.  A must-win game awaits in London, England of all places as the Saints travel abroad to face the Chargers.

24.  Texans (2-4) –  The Texans took care of business against the winless Lions, but it wasn’t as easy as expected.  With an eye of trying to follow in the ’07 Chargers footsteps (went from 0-3 to the playoffs), the Texans will rest-up during the bye week.

25.  Dolphins (2-4) – The Ravens defense mauled the ‘Phins high powered running attack on their way to a dominating victory.  In an AFC East statement game, the Dolphins host the division leading Bills.

26.  Browns (2-4) – Romeo Crennel and Dawgs tried their best to put away the tough Washington Redskins, but in the end the ‘Skins led by running back Clinton Portis held on for the win.  In a game that will probably make or break their playoff hopes, the Browns travel to Jacksonville for a loser leaves town bout with the Jaguars.

27.  Raiders (2-4) – To the surprise of everyone, the Raiders played tough and handed the Jets an overtime loss led by kicker Sebastain Janikowski’s club record 57-yard field goal.  Next up for the Raiders is a cross-country road trip to Baltimore to  face a Ravens team that is close to joining the playoff hunt.

28.  49ers (2-5) – The Niners had a chance until quarterback JT O’Sullivan continued his turnover ways (league leading 15 turnovers) against the New York Giants.  In one of the NFL lower tier games, the Niners host the equally disappointing Seahawks.

29.  Seahawks (1-5) –  The Buccaneers continued to send Mike Holmgren further into retirement as they pounded the Hawks.  In a tiolet bowl type game, the Seahawks travel to San Francisco to face the lowly Niners.

30.  Bengals (0-7) – Another week with another loss for the Bungles this time the NFC North leading Steelers pounded them.  Well at least this week we know the Bengals won’t lose as they are on a bye.

31.  Lions (0-6) – The Texans did just enough to send the Lions to another defeat despite the efforts of receiver Calvin Johnson.  The Lions will try to save head coach Rod Marinelli from the chopping block as they host the improving Washington Redskins.

32.  Chiefs (1-5) – The Tennessee Titans ran up and down the field on the hapless Chiefs on their way to another win.  Herman Edwards returns to the Meadowlands this time as the coach of the beleaguered Chiefs.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2008 NFL Review – Week 7

(Philadelphia, Pa) — The 89th NFL Season is nearing the halfway point and the topsy-turvy world of the NFL is wackier than ever.  Every Sunday shows that teams play with pride and spirit when facing an opponent predicted to be superior.  What we do know is that no team in the NFL is leaps and bounds above the rest of the pack.  Not even the (6-0) Tennessee Titans can overlook an opponent, because parity rules in the NFL.  Sure there are seven teams who are at least 3 games above .500 (Titans 6-0, Bills 5-1, Giants 5-1, Steelers 5-1, Panthers 5-2, Redskins 5-2 and the Bucs 5-2) and five teams that are at least 3 games under .500 (SF 49ers 2-5, Chiefs 1-5, Seahawks 1-5, Lions 0-6, and the Bengals 0-7) who are all probably getting ready for April’s draft.  But the vast majority (20) of NFL teams are stuck somewhere between 4-2 and 2-4.

With the halfway season almost upon us and crucial playoff pre-testing games in November and December soon to follow, we will know who the pretenders and contenders are real soon…We hope.  Usually it is easy to predict the top teams, but with injuries and an attitude of “Any Given Sunday” prevalent around the league who knows what will happen next.  This week there were more upsets that showed no one knows a thing, when it comes to the NFL.  The Patriots came back strong throttling the Broncos, Carolina thumped the Saints, Buffalo took another step toward respectability by beating the Chargers, and the Colts looked old and befuddled as they didn’t show-up in another loss in Green Bay.  But the biggest surprise had to be what happened to the vaunted Dallas Cowboys.  Continue reading