Is it just me, or does it feel like Steve Atwater deserves to be in the HOF more than Champ Bailey?
*-- Scott Thielemier *
I can't say for certain whether it is just you, but it is certainly not how I feel. I put the two of them on equal footing.
As I noted prior to the Hall of Fame announcement, there are 43 players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame who played at least nine seasons and earned Pro Bowl selections more than 70 percent of the time. Now that Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed are in the Hall of Fame, 42 of them are in the club. The only one who is not? Atwater.
That needs to change next year, and based on conversations throughout Super Bowl week and nuggets that have leaked out from the selection meeting, it seems like there is wind in the sails of his candidacy.
Bailey said Saturday that getting the Hall call in his home state of Georgia and with Owner Pat Bowlen was ideal because it allowed his football life to come "full circle."
So, for Atwater, what could be more "full circle" than being introduced as a Hall of Famer next February at Super Bowl LIV in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida -- the same stadium in which he played his final game as a Bronco and won his second consecutive Super Bowl ring?
I mentioned this to Atwater, who smiled and said that the only thing that would make it better would be if the Broncos were playing in that game. If you're going to dream, dream big! That's one of the best things about No. 27.
Do you think training camp will be run differently with Vic Fangio in charge compared to the last couple of years?
I expect there will be changes. I have never seen a coach come in without making at least a few tweaks to the practice schedule and altering some points of emphasis in the on-field sessions. The question is what those changes will look like. Fangio's experience is so deep and broad that he has a wide array of philosophies from which he can draw, as he has worked under Jim E. Mora, Dom Capers (who worked under Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh), Brian Billick, John Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh, John Fox and Andy Reid disciple Matt Nagy.
With such a diverse array of minds and ideas to influence his thinking, I'm fascinated to see how Fangio structures everything from team meetings to practice schedule to team travel. Change can be a healthy thing.
#AskMase What, if anything, do the Broncos do to put their players out in spotlight for recognition in the HOF conversation?
You've seen it with Steve Atwater. Getting him back in the organization in a public, front-facing role representing the team at public events and on the radio every day. This has helped raise his public awareness and his Hall of Fame candidacy; I think it had something to do with him having his best year in the Hall of Fame voting, getting him into the final 10 for the first time.
The Broncos' public-relations team was dogged in its promotion of Owner Pat Bowlen in particular over the last two years, and I expect now its full determination will go toward helping push Atwater over the goal line. And if what Hall of Fame president David Baker said Saturday about a potential separate, all-seniors class for the NFL's 100th anniversary in 2020 comes to pass, then I think great Broncos like Randy Gradishar and Karl Mecklenburg will get the full-throttle push from the organization.
Which city has been the best host for the Super Bowl?
Tough question. Atlanta acquitted itself well last week in terms of having most venues and hotels clustered in the downtown core, and was vibrant throughout the week.
Minneapolis did an amazing job despite having the disadvantage of a harsh climate. The decision to base the week-long activities out of the Mall of America was a stroke of genius, and for us on Radio Row, the presence of shoppers and fans around us as we conducted our broadcasts brought a dynamic element to the week that is difficult to replicate anywhere else. Despite the weather, I thought the Twin Cities delivered.
New Orleans, though, remains the alpha dog of Super Bowl host cities, because of its massive, mile-long convention center, the ability to centralize everything around downtown and the French Quarter and its world-class array of restaurants. Because everything is so compressed there, the city overcomes its relative lack of public-transportation options.
I have covered Super Bowl weeks in seven cities, and here's how I would rank them:
- New Orleans
- San Francisco Bay Area
- New York City
The San Francisco Bay Area experience was too spread out, with teams staying in Santa Clara and San Jose and the media clustered in San Francisco. Because I stayed in the Broncos hotel, I didn't make it to San Francisco until the night of NFL Honors, which was not ideal. Houston's sprawl ensures a long ride to a restaurant for dinner. New York City is an example of a city that is just too big for a Super Bowl; when I went into Manhattan for media events, I rarely got the sense that the Super Bowl was being held in the city, and I think it's better when the game kind of takes over and creates a buzz in the town.
I haven't done a Miami Super Bowl yet, but I expect that will settle fairly high on the list for Super Bowl LIV.
Can you put up Isaac Bruce numbers vs. those of Julian Edelman to show people the difference between a great player and a good one? #AskMase
Raw regular-season totals:
- 1,024 receptions
- 15,208 yards
- 91 touchdowns
- 8 1,000-yard seasons
- 4 Pro Bowls
- 499 receptions
- 5,390 yards
- 30 touchdowns
- 2 1,000-yard seasons
- 0 Pro Bowls
Regular-season per-game averages:
- 4.6 receptions
- 68.2 yards
- 0.4 touchdowns
- 4.4 receptions
- 46.9 yards
- 0.3 touchdowns
Playoff per-game averages:
- 4.9 receptions
- 84.3 yards
- 0.4 touchdowns
- 6.4 receptions
- 78.4 yards
- 0.3 touchdowns
Super Bowl per-game averages:
- 5.5 receptions
- 109.0 yards
- 0.5 touchdowns
- 6.3 receptions
- 87.3 yards
- 0.3 touchdowns
And don't forget, Edelman played almost his entire career with Tom Brady throwing him passes. Bruce had barely over four years with Kurt Warner; the rest of his career was filled with passers such as Chris Chandler, Chris Miller, Steve Walsh, Tony Banks, Marc Bulger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, J.T. O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill.
*Would you rather tackle 100 rabbit-sized C.J. Andersons or one C.J. Anderson-sized rabbit? *
A rabbit that size, burrowing around the dirt, would be an olfactory and bacterial nightmare. Gotta go with the 100 rabbit-sized C.J. Andersons.