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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tim Couch Reportedly Linked To Steriods and HGH

By David

According to Yahoo! Sports columnist Josh Peter, former first overall pick Tim Couch utilized anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to aid in his attempted return to the National Football League.

Like many pro athletes, Couch enlisted the help of banned substances, namely HGH, to assist and facilitate his recovery process from injury. He admitted to Yahoo! Sports that for a short period of time he used HGH to see how much it would help him recover from shoulder surgery.

By all indications the illegal performance enhancing drug did not do much good as Couch continues to struggle to revitalize what was once a promising career.

A confidential source told the website that he witnessed Couch being injected with steroids, but the quarterback denies ever the claim. The substances Couch supposedly used are banned by the league and any offender caught using them usually faces a one month suspension, if not more.

After a five-year stint with the Cleveland Browns, Couch signed with the Packers in 2004 and was released before the regular season began. His attempted comeback with the Jaguars did not last long as he was released earlier this month, and it now seems highly unlikely that the former Kentucky star will re-surface ever again with an NFL team.

Lance Briggs Crashes Luxary Vehicle and Faces Minor Repercussions

By David

Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs foolishly crashed his $350,000 Lamborghini Murceilago on the Edens Expressway just after 3 A.M. Monday morning. Initially Briggs called police to say that his sports car was stolen, but later confessed that he had severely damaged it himself and no one else was involved in the wreck.

Briggs posted $100 bond yesterday and was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident and was handed two traffic violations. At his October 4th court date it's very unlikely that the defensive star will be slapped with any jail time, although the charge does carry up to a maximum of one-year in prison.

This latest incident in what has been a circus of events over the past several months with the defending NFC champions got me thinking what was Briggs doing with his expensive vehicle in the wee hours of the morning? If practice begins at 8 A.M. for the team why is their premier linebacker out so late? What is even more puzzling to me is why head coach Lovie Smith did not institute a curfew for the players.

After the embarrassing events that played out in the Tank Johnson case, why has management not taken it upon themselves to restore some sense of sanity and order with the club. This incident sends a negative message to children and adults that it is permissible to crash your vehicle, leave the scene of an accident, be charged with a misdemeanor and not face any punishment from your employer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Commissioner Goodell -- Press Conference at Cleveland Browns Training Camp

Commissioner Goodell -- Press Conference at Cleveland Browns Training Camp
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference
Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Berea, OH
August 16, 2007

Let me just make a couple quick comments. I was in Detroit earlier this morning so this is just part of our training camp tour, getting a chance to talk to the players and coaches. I had a chance to meet with [Browns Senior Vice President, Business Operations] Mike [Keenan], [Browns General Manager/Senior Vice President] Phil [Savage] and [Browns Head Coach] Romeo [Crennel] this afternoon privately and then I met with the players just a few minutes ago. It’s been a very productive trip.

(On the message he is trying to communicate to the players)- “The primary message is that they are responsible, as NFL players, to this community as Cleveland Browns and to the organization, to their teammates and to themselves and their families. We have resources available to them, the things that we are doing to try and help them make better decisions and the things we are doing in respect to player safety. We had a particular discussion on concussions and some of the things we have done in the offseason to address that. We have been reaching out for players input and we’ll continue to do that and we encourage them to do that.”

(On whether he feels like he has the players attention going in as his ‘actions speak louder than his words’)- “Well, I think actions always speak louder than words and I think that is true for the players. Their words don’t mean as much as their actions and that is how people are going to judge them. I think they understand that and I think they are taking the appropriate precautions and taking advantage of the resources to help them make better decisions.”

(On how much time he spends monitoring the ‘health’ of each individual franchise and how ‘healthy’ of a franchise Cleveland is)- “Getting around and seeing the other franchises is helpful but having spent a great deal of time here in the mid-90’s, I know the passionate fan base they have here. I’ve never seen more passionate fans than Browns fans. I think this franchise has a great facility now, a great fan base and the team is doing all the right things to build a terrific franchise here. I think it is a very positive story for us.”

(On whether the NFL changed any of its policies in lieu of the NBA betting scandal)- “We always monitor that very closely and we have, what we think are policies and procedures that are second to none. Like anything, we look to improve them on a constant basis. If there are things that can be done better, we are certainly going to do that. The evaluation that our officials go through, the monitoring that they go through, we think that our officials are held to a very, very high standard and we are obviously very confident that is not occurring at the NFL level. You want to continue to do that because the integrity of the sport is critical and you want to be able to make sure that our officials understand that they are going to be held to that standard.”

(On how many questions the Browns players asked him during their meeting)- “Six or seven.”

(On whether that is a typical amount)- “It’s actually quite good in the sense that I think they felt comfortable enough to ask questions and they were direct questions, questions that are of great interest to them. I think that is terrific.”

(On what he told the players about concussions)- “That we did a lot of work in the offseason. That we had all of our medical teams and people outside of the NFL - some that have been critical, or some that may not have just agreed with some of the procedures that we have had – come together and try and share our learning’s on this. We made a number of changes on this in the offseason, including all players are going to be tested – neuropsychological testing to determine a baseline for each of the players. No players are going to go back into a game, or a practice, until their asymptomatic. We’re also looking at return to play, and if a player is deemed unconscious by the medical team, they won’t return into that game, which is a new twist also. We’re taking a very cautious, conservative approach. We’re continuing to study, we’re continuing to learn and we’re continuing to the lead the way in some of the things that are being determined about concussions.”

(On how hard it is to detect HGH and how widespread a problem he thinks steroid use is)- “Well, there is no test for HGH, but there is also a question of whether HGH has a performance benefit. We are working, and have worked with other leagues and other authorities to try and determine a test so that we can detect that. On steroids, I don’t think that it’s a big issue in our league. Our testing program is so comprehensive – we do over 12,000 tests – which is an extraordinary amount of tests, far more than any other league. We feel that testing program is so comprehensive, along with the education and there’s the fact that the players don’t want it in the game.”

(On whether it is surprising that guys still test positive)- “No, I think potentially that if you didn’t have any positive tests maybe your testing program wasn’t very good. You could take that side of it also. I think the fact that we have a testing program – you’re always going to have people who are going to look for an edge. And some will do it unconsciously. They think they’re taking something appropriate and then they realize there was something in there that they shouldn’t have in their bodies. That can happen and it does happen. But you’re responsible for what is in your body.”

(On whether he thinks his message has been heard by the Bengals as it relates to some of their off-field situations)- “I don’t think it is specific to any one team. I think it is all 32 clubs. All the players, coaches, owners and executives recognize that we needed to raise the standards and I think that has been accepted. I think it is being supported by all those parties, and most importantly our fans.”

(On whether he feels like he has the players support during his training camp trip tour) – “I do, because again, we have a limited number of players that get into those kinds of issues. We have 2,000 players. I’m proud of our players. I’m proud of what they do in the communities and on the field. I think more has to be discussed on that. We have always talked about the game – having the focus stay on football. We’re here now and its football time. We’re here at training camp and we can get the focus back on football.”

(On whether the players have noticed the difference in the treatment of concussions) – “I don’t know. You’d have to ask the players about that. I know our medical teams are very well educated on this. I think they are taking a very conservative approach to this and our statistics show they have been. That’s what we want to ensure – our players safety.”

(On his decision to ‘drag QB Brady Quinn out of the spotlight’ on draft day) – “It actually began the day before when a couple of players asked if I had any advice. I told them that in reality, one of the five was going to be the last one selected and it’s going to be difficult and will seem difficult for a long period of time. But when you look back at it several years later, it won’t be that big of an issue. I think the focus on that wasn’t right. It’s not why we ask players to come to the draft. I thought it was appropriate to bring him in and let him sit, and to see what happens with his family.”

(On whether he is interested to see what kind of NFL quarterback Quinn is) – “I sure am.”

(On whether the NFL pays attention to the marketing value of a player) – “We don’t look at marketing value. We recognize the players. That’s why people follow the game – the great players and great coaches and the game of football itself. When you have players that come into the franchise and lead the hope of the franchise, being the future quarterback for the next generation – it’s a great thing. I think seeing the reaction to the draft the Browns had was something that gave everyone more hope in the Browns passionate fan base.”

(On whether he is concerned by the perception the players had of him when he became commissioner) – “No, but I do think that people can get a misperception when people don’t get a chance to hear or talk to me. I reached out to a very broad spectrum of players – rookies to 15-year-veterans – to find out what was going on. We really spent a great deal of time receiving input into the personal conduct policy from players so that we were making the appropriate changes. And I think they respect that.”

(On his opinion of rookie holdouts) – “I think it does hurt the team and the player. I think it hurts the fans and that’s the unfortunate part. It’s difficult to make up time when you miss it in training camp. That’s one of the issues we’ve talked about with the union in negotiations and I think it will be clearly one of the things we talk about when we sit down to discuss changes to the system – what can be done to eliminate players, particularly rookies, from holding out of training camp.”

(On the experience of helping bring back the Browns franchise to Cleveland) – “It was a very difficult period for the fans of Cleveland and was a difficult period for the NFL. Obviously, the first several months were particularly difficult for all of us, but then we realized that we could make this happen. All of the momentum started to build and I think ultimately, we came up with a good solution. You realize how important the franchise is to that community when something like that happens and it’s devastating. We’re glad now that it’s part of history and the Browns are here now.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments regarding the Michael Vick situation:

(On the league’s position on the ongoing investigation surrounding Falcons QB Michael Vick)- “First, as it relates to dog fighting, the league finds it despicable, incomprehensible that it even happens, much less an NFL player being charged with potentially being involved in some way. We are doing our own review. There are a lot of discussion going on between Michael and his legal team. We will probably be meeting with them sometime in the next week to 10 days and be able to make some decisions from our standpoint. Part of this is to respect the legal process that he is going through and make sure that we don’t interfere with the federal authorities on this.”

(On a story that said Vick’s legal team is consulting with the league before he agreed to any plea bargain)- “That is not correct.”

(On whether they have discussed a potential suspension in advance of a plea bargain)- “No. We are going to make our decision once we have all the facts.”

(On whether Vick accepting a plea bargain is an admittance that he initially lied to the league on the matter)- “Again, that is a hypothetical to some extent because it depends what he pleads to. That is why we would like to wait and allow the plea to either happen, or not happen and then make our determination from that standpoint.”

(On how big of an issue the gambling side of the Vick situation is)- “It’s certainly an issue and that is one of the things – law enforcement may be concerned about some certain things and we may be concerned about other aspects of this. I think that is why we want to evaluate what the government has. We don’t know all of the facts on that. Michael’s team may not know all the facts at this point in time.”

(On whether he expects any sort of backlash from fans if the Vick situation turns into the ‘worst case scenario’)- “Well, that’s a hypothetical which I’m not sure what the outcomes are.”

(On how difficult it is to be commissioner with this problem on the table)- “I think it is obviously something that is resonating with the general public and with us. I think the statistics we heard from our partners at the ASPCA is that 65 percent of households have a pet. I’m a pet lover myself so it is incomprehensible that a player is being charged with that. On the other hand, they are charges at this point in time and Michael Vick is not performing in the NFL right now and we are dealing with this aggressively. I think the public understands that and I think our fans understand that in no way do we accept anyone who is involved with dog fighting. We are going to deal with this aggressively.”

(On players in other sports being allowed to continue to play while they faced serious charges and why he felt this situation was different)- “I don’t run the other leagues. I run the National Football League and that’s my job. I felt that under the current circumstances that it was best for Michael Vick to focus on his legal defense and for the Falcons to focus on getting ready for the season.”

Related Links: PDF Version

Michael Vick Pleads Guilty Today - Sad Day - ESPN

Vick to be sentenced Dec. 10 after guilty plea

ESPN.com news services
Updated: August 27, 2007, 12:32 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. -- Michael Vick pleaded guilty Monday to a federal dogfighting charge and awaits a Dec. 10 sentencing date that could send the NFL star to prison.

In a statement before the media, Vick said he took full responsibility for his actions. He concluded by saying: "I will redeem myself. I have to."

"First, I want to apologize for all the things that I have done and I have allowed to happen. I want to personally apologize to Commissioner Goodell, Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino, and my Atlanta Falcons teammates, for I was not honest and forthright in our discussions," Vick said.

"I was ashamed and totally disappointed in myself, to say the least. I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts. What I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up."

Vick said he now has renounced dogfighting and has found religion as a result of the federal charges. "Dogfighting is a terrible thing. I reject it," he said.

"I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to better Michael Vick the person, not the football player," Vick said.

"I take full responsibility for my actions … I am totally responsible."

The plea by the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, who asked: "Are you entering the plea of guilty to a conspiracy charge because you are in fact guilty?"

Vick replied, "Yes, sir."

Hudson emphasized he is not bound by sentencing guidelines and can impose the maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

"You're taking your chances here. You'll have to live with whatever decision I make," Hudson said.

In his written plea filed in federal court Friday, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He said he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings.

The NFL suspended him indefinitely and without pay Friday after his plea agreement was filed. Merely associating with gamblers can trigger a lifetime ban under the league's personal conduct policy.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Vick stands to lose approximately $100 million because of his conviction.

Federal prosecutors recommended 12-18 months in prison.

"A first-time offender might well receive no jail time for this offense," U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement. "We thought, however, that the conduct in this conspiracy was heinous, cruel and inhumane" so three of the four defendants, including Vick, should receive harsher sentences.

The first defendant to plead guilty left the conspiracy in 2004 and is not as culpable, he said.

The case began in late April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of Vick's cousin raided the former Virginia Tech star's rural Surry County property and seized dozens of dogs, some injured, and equipment commonly used in dogfighting.

Vick's plea came hours before the Falcons are scheduled to play an exhibition game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. This will be the first chance for the team to see what effect Vick's case has on attendance at the Georgia Dome. Vick wears the biggest-selling jersey in team history and is given much credit for the team's 51 consecutive sellouts.

After initially denying his involvement, Vick has said little publicly about the case. Privately, he met with Goodell and Falcons owner Arthur Blank when the investigation was just beginning, and almost certainly lied to both.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Friday, August 24, 2007


This is from the website of NFLMedia.com and was released today, August 24th, 2007


Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Michael Vick today that he is suspended indefinitely without pay from the National Football League, effective immediately.

Following are excerpts from Commissioner Goodell’s letter to Vick:

· “Your admitted conduct was not only illegal, but also cruel and reprehensible. Your team, the NFL, and NFL fans have all been hurt by your actions.”

· “Your plea agreement and the plea agreements of your co-defendants also demonstrate your significant involvement in illegal gambling. Even if you personally did not place bets, as you contend, your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL Player Contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player.”

· “You have engaged in conduct detrimental to the welfare of the NFL and have violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.”

· “I will review the status of your suspension following the conclusion of the legal proceedings. As part of that review, I will take into account a number of factors, including the resolution of any other charges that may be brought against you, whether in Surry County, Virginia, or other jurisdictions, your conduct going forward, the specifics of the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson and any related findings he might make, and the extent to which you are truthful and cooperative with law enforcement and league staff who are investigating these matters.”

· “I have advised the Falcons that, with my decision today, they are no longer prohibited from acting and are now free to assert any claims or remedies available to them under the Collective Bargaining Agreement or your NFL Player Contract.”

# # #

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tribune's Carl Stewart Is Wrong - Raiders Line Was Never Bad To Start

Hi Carl,

I have to correct you on your column. The Raiders Offensive Line was never so bad to be so good. It was poorly coached,
and that was why I called for Tom Walsh to be fired on August 15th of 2006.

Take note. That was preseason.


And here's what I wrote:

Fire Tom Walsh

I continued the drum beat each week, and through the season. The reasons were based on my knoweldge of technical football. In other words, I can see just one game and tell you how an offense in going to perform for the rest of the year, in general terms.

The Raiders of this year use a more contemporary run blocking scheme, one that is exactly like the Denver Broncos in execution and design. For example, Lamont Jordan's 30-year second quarter run was a classic indictment of my claim. The line stepped to the left to get the defense to move that way, then fire blocked in zone fashion.

The result is that the whole defensive front seven moves that way, even though the running back does not. Thus, the back can see the blocks develop, then move toward the cutback lane. The weakside linebacker moved into the backfield too far, and didn't stay home.

Thus: a big run.

The Broncos are the master's of this. But note that the line isn't making a whole via brut muscle, it's just coaxing the defense to move in a certain direction.

It's this, and other techniques, that the Raiders are employing this year and why their offense is better and why I believe they'll go 9-7.

In closing, I ask that all reporters improve their ability to understand the technical aspect of the game, so they can see -- in one game -- what an offense is doing and why.


Zennie Abraham, Jr.

Monday, August 20, 2007


This was just released by the NFL. It comes in the wake of Michael Vick's guilty plea for backing dog fighting.

Statement From An NFL Spokesman On Michael Vick



STATEMENT FROM AN NFL SPOKESMAN: “We are aware of Michael Vick’s decision to enter a guilty plea to the federal charges against him and accept responsibility for his conduct. We totally condemn the conduct outlined in the charges, which is inconsistent with what Michael Vick previously told both our office and the Falcons. We will conclude our own review under the league’s personal conduct policy as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have asked the Falcons to continue to refrain from taking action pending a decision by the commissioner.”

Cleveland Brady Quinn Should Start Now

After holding out for a contract based on the instruction of his agent CAA's Tom Condon, Cleveland First Round Draft pick QB and former ND standout Brady Quinn came in to guide the Browns in the 4th quarter. At the time, the Browns were not only down but even though it was a preseason game, needed a lift. Quinn gave them that. He completed 13 of 20 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. At one point he was 5-for-5.

Brady's used to that kind of pressure -- remember UCLA in 2006? -- and he did it again. Yes, it was a preseason game, and they weren't starters. But with that kind of performance and given his history, I say start him for the next game and see what happens.

Michael Vick To Plead Guilty To Dogfighting - AP

This is both sad and chocking! But it appears that he has indeed engaged in this terrible act.

Lawyer: Vick to plead guilty to dogfighting charges
By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press Writer
August 20, 2007

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Michael Vick's lawyer said Monday the NFL star will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, putting the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's career in jeopardy and leaving him subject to a possible prison term.

The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines most likely would call for less. Vick's plea hearing is Aug. 27.

"After consulting with his family over the weekend, Michael Vick asked that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him," lead defense attorney Billy Martin said in a statement.

"Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has barred Vick from the Falcons' training camp but has withheld further action while the league conducts its own investigation.

Vick is charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. He had pleaded not guilty last month and vowed to clear his name at a November trial.

Martin's announcement came as a grand jury that could add new charges met in private. Prosecutors had said that a superseding indictment was in the works, but Vick's plea most likely means he will not face additional charges.

Three of Vick's original co-defendants already have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him if the case went to trial. Quanis Phillips of Atlanta and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach signed statements saying the 27-year-old quarterback participated in executing at least eight underperforming dogs by various means, including drowning and hanging.

Phillips, Peace and Tony Taylor, who pleaded guilty last month, also said Vick provided virtually all of the gambling and operating funds for his "Bad Newz Kennels" operation in rural Virginia, not far from Vick's hometown of Newport News.

The gambling allegations alone could trigger a lifetime ban under the NFL's personal conduct policy.

The case began April 25 when investigators conducting a drug search at a massive home Vick built in Surry County found 66 dogs, some of them injured, and items typically used in dogfighting. They included a "rape stand" that holds aggressive dogs in place for mating and a "breakstick" used to pry open a dog's mouth.

Vick contended he knew nothing about a dogfighting operation at the home, where one of his cousins lived, and said he rarely visited. The former Virginia Tech star also blamed friends and family members for taking advantage of his generosity and pledged to be more scrupulous.

The July 17 indictment said dogs that lost fights or fared poorly in test fights were sometimes executed by hanging, electrocution or other brutal means. The grisly details fueled public protests against Vick and cost him some of his lucrative endorsement deals.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New NFL Website Still Places League In New Media Catch-Up Mode

This is a copy of an email I wrote to Greg Aiello regarding the new NFL.com website:

Hi Greg,

I hope you had a nice vacation. Here's my feedback on the website. I like the design, but what concerns me are small things. For example, if I click on a player, just that person's name -- John Abbate -- comes up in the title page. That's it. There's no repeat of his name in the title of the page -- nothing for a search engine to chew on.

Thus, if I type his name in Google, it doesn't show the NFL page. The number one page is for the Wake Forest Site.


My point is that the site's fine, the presentation of video's better, but it does not reflect an understanding of the need to use natural search to generate traffic to the site.

On top of that, there's no social network functionality and no connection to blogs. It's almost -- but not quite -- state of the

Hope you're well.



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Michael Vick attorneys negotiating plea - AJC.com

If this is true, and it reads so, then Mr. Vick was indeed involved in dogfighting. A very sad tale.

Vick attorneys negotiating plea
Falcons QB would serve prison time if agreement reached

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/14/07

Michael Vick's attorneys are engaged in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors and the Falcons quarterback could reach an agreement before new dogfighting charges are handed down next week, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The negotiations follow news that two more of Vick's three co-defendants are scheduled to enter guilty pleas later this week as part of a deal with prosecutors.

If prosecutors accept a plea agreement from Michael Vick, the Falcons QB will likely serve some prison time, according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Collins Spencer, a spokesman for Vick's lawyers, declined to comment Tuesday on any possible negotiations.

He added that Vick did not meet with his attorneys last night but said they will have a conference call with Vick this morning and may have an announcement this afternoon. Spencer did not indicate what the announcement would be.

On Monday Spencer said the legal team was "very surprised" by the pleas from Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips and said they would not affect plans to move forward toward a Nov. 26 trial.

Vick's lead attorney, Billy Martin, could not be reached for comment.

If the announcement is that Vick has reached a plea agreement, the embattled star quarterback is expected to be sentenced to some time in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Vick's motivation to enter a guilty plea is likely fueled by the U.S. Attorney's Office announcement last month that it will seek a new "superseding" indictment against Vick by the end of August. With the cooperation of Vick's three co-defendants, there will likely be new, and more specific, allegations against Vick. The federal grand jury in Richmond is expected to hand up that indictment sometime early next week.

If Vick can reach an agreement by the end of this week, he would not have to answer to any additional charges.

This week, Vick learned that in the criminal justice system, friendship only goes so far.

On Monday, guilty plea hearings were scheduled for two of his co-defendants and long-time associates. Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, has a plea hearing scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Richmond at 9 a.m., while Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, has a plea hearing set for Friday at the same time. The hearings showed up Monday on U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson's docket.

The third co-defendant, Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton pleaded guilty July 30 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Vick. Just days earlier, Taylor had joined Vick and the others in pleading not guilty.

Attorneys for both Peace and Phillips declined to comment Monday.

"There's no telling until the actual pleas, but this doesn't sound like good news for Michael Vick," said Kent Alexander, once the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and now Emory University's general counsel. "Usually, if people plead guilty early in a case they may be cooperating with the government. That's what it sounds like here."

A federal grand jury indicted the men last month on a single count of conspiracy to cross state lines to engage in illegal gambling; to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture; and to buy, transport and receive dogs for animal fighting.

They face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, but defendants often receive more lenient punishment when they accept responsibility and enter guilty pleas.

A 13-page statement of facts Taylor signed with prosecutors last month says Vick, Peace and Phillips set up a business called "Bad Newz Kennels" in rural Surry County, Va., to raise and train pit bulls for dogfights.

It also says the men gambled on the fights in Virginia and several other states and that Vick almost exclusively funded the dogfighting operation and gambling monies.

At various times, Taylor, Peace and Phillips executed dogs they didn't think would fight well by shooting them, the statement says. The indictment issued earlier in July said Vick also executed dogs.

The plea deals for Taylor, Peace and Phillips emerged after federal prosecutors announced at their arraignment hearing last month that they would be seeking a superseding indictment, meaning they could name additional charges and defendants in the case. That indictment is expected to be announced before the end of this month.

Vick's jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 26, deep into the Falcons' schedule. The Falcons will have played 11 of their 16 regular-season games by then. Vick will remain free until the trial, but his availability to appear on field is unclear. The NFL barred Vick, with pay, from being with the team pending the outcome of its own investigation.

A call to Vick's agent, Joel Segal, was not returned Monday. The Falcons declined to comment on the latest developments in Vick's case.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to make a decision on Vick's future in a few weeks. Goodell said he is waiting for a report from investigator Eric Holder before rendering a verdict, according to a league spokesman. No timetable has been set for Goodell's decision, NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello said.

Tailback Warrick Dunn, who spoke to Vick recently, said Falcons players are already of the mindset that they'll have to play without him.

"Mike is going to be missed, and he has been missed, but at the same time, you have to go on," he said.

Should Holder's report lead Goodell to determine Vick violated the NFL's player conduct policy, he could issue a suspension. Holder's report also could show that Vick did not violate the policy and that no league-ordered suspension or other discipline is warranted.

A high-ranking NFL team official said Goodell likely would meet with Vick or his legal representation before levying any suspension. Such a meeting has yet to take place.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank and president and general manager Rich McKay have said they had enough information to lead them to draw up papers to suspend Vick for four games — the maximum a team can suspend a player for disciplinary reasons. The league could suspend Vick for a year.

Blank and McKay also said there were discussions about cutting Vick.

Coach Bobby Petrino said Monday he had not been told of any developments from the NFL regarding a decision on Vick.

"I'm not aware of any recent updates on this situation," Petrino said.

"We've been proceeding as if — we have to — he's not going to be here, and we're doing the best we can at that."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oakland Raiders Offense Getting Rave Reviews Already

Last year at almost this time, I called for then-Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator Tom Walsh to be fired. The problems with the offense were simple: terrible and outdated blocking schemes, passing plays that contained the 70s style of deep patterns, lack of formation variation, and inflexibility.

Many Raiders fans wanted my head, but I stuck to my point.

The result with new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin is not just an up-to-date offense, but many of the problems I identified -- ok, all of them -- are gone. What's in place is the kind of offense that I have wanted the Raiders to install for years. It's only the first game of preseason, and yet the Raiders offense is getting rave reviews and deservedly so.

Let's review why.

1) Blocking.

It's simplictic to write "the blocking is better." What's better is that the linemen aren't being asked to hold blocks for a long time. What's better is that the timing of the pass patterns are matched with the kind of block the linemen are asked to make. And what's better is that the Raiders are using a variety of pass patterns, including one of my favorites where the receiver just turns to the quarterback and waits for the pass, because the cornerback's about 10 yards off of him.


2) Formations.

Last year, the Raiders didn't seem to understand that there were a ton of different ways to line up and create mismatches. Not so this year. The Raiders employed about 45 formation for the first game of preseason this year. Many of the sets were simple, and use of the shotgun was intelligent. What I'm getting at is the Silver and Black's going to present more complex approaches as the year goes on.

What's the point of all this? The defense can't zero in and stop the attack based on one concept -- there's too much to deal with for a defensive coordinator.

3) Pass Patterns.

As I stated before, pass patterns are more varied by far. It means more ways to get the receivers and backs opens. It means more ways to move the ball through the air.

In closing, the Raiders offense is not just better, it's much better. This is a credit to Coach Kiffin and Coach Knapp as well as The Raiders organization for making a bold step when it was needed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Last of the 49ers struck it rich as a pioneer
Scott Ostler - SF Chroncle
Saturday, August 11, 2007

BILL WALSH MEMORIAL SERVICE - Last of the 49ers struck it rich a...

They came to the old football stadium Friday, fans and players and friends, to say goodbye to Bill Walsh, the last of the true 49ers.
Walsh wasn't the last of the football 49ers, but the last of the 49ers who began migrating to San Francisco 150 years ago because their dreams were too big to fit anywhere else in America.
They were wild, restless, desperate and a little bit crazy, and the spirit of those 49ers may have seen its last spark in a gray-haired football coach who struck gold without getting his hands dirty.
Walsh's story is the last great gold-rush saga. A window into what he achieved and the impact he had on so many lives was opened up at the public memorial service Friday at Candlestick.
It was what you might call a West Coast service - innovative, entertaining and choreographed by Bill Walsh. While he was slowly dying of leukemia, Walsh planned his own services, down to the music piped into the stadium speakers as the 8,000 or so fans filed in, a river of 49er red.
It was mostly country music - Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash, Little Jimmy Dickens.
The music had a wistful thread. "Always on My Mind." "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)." "Hello, Walls." "(You'll Always Find Me Here at) Closing Time."
But you can't plan everything, and Walsh surely would have appreciated the man who stood up in the grandstands early in the service and recited a poem about the 49ers.
The emcee, Chris "Boomer" Berman, is a Bay Area guy who knows about the Beat poets, so he let the man do his thing, then said admiringly, " There's a 49er fan."
The rest of the program went pretty much as scripted. The previous day's private service at Stanford was mostly about Walsh the man, while Friday's event was more about what Walsh created here. It was an amazing machine and all he did was select the parts, assemble them by his own blueprint, teach, coach, inspire and lead.
"The man who brought it all together," Steve Young said.
And the man who held it all together for a decade. Who else but Walsh could have pulled off that miracle? As Ronnie Lott observed after the service, "Abraham Lincoln said, 'We are all copies.' Bill is not a copy, he's an original."
For sure, nobody but Walsh could have built such a marvelous contraption from the ground up, and made it soar. Former team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who had many bitter battles with Walsh, went poetic on us, likening the 49ers' glory days to Camelot.
"Bill Walsh was our King Arthur and this stadium was our castle," Eddie D said.
It was DeBartolo who hired Walsh when the 47-year-old's window of opportunity as an NFL head coach had just about slammed closed. DeBartolo was either incredibly lucky or a true visionary, because that hiring had a major lasting impact on San Francisco's culture, self-image and world reputation.
DeBartolo's longtime sidekick Carmen Policy took us back to the beginning, when DeBartolo's father advised Eddie Jr. not to hire Walsh because trusted NFL insiders had convinced the senior DeBartolo that while Walsh was a smart guy, he wasn't head-coach material.
So true. Walsh was way overqualified for the job. But instead of dumbing down his system to the league's level, Walsh lifted his players and assistant coaches.
So Eddie DeBartolo Sr. was strongly opposed to his son hiring Walsh?
"That's Carmen," DeBartolo Jr. said after the service, in a tone indicating that Policy's speech had been overly dramatic. "(My dad) was just a little concerned about the salary. He wanted to pay Bill $45,000. Bill wanted two-something ($200,000-plus)."
So how much did Walsh get?
"Two-something," DeBartolo said.
For his dough, DeBartolo got a genius who had the kind of plan and faith and determination that gets Golden Gate Bridges built.
Joe Montana explained after the service how the West Coast offense had been a new way of thinking. Opposing defenses hated to give up four yards on a running play, but a four-yard pass? No biggie.
"In their mind," Montana said, "they were saying, 'It's only four yards (gain on the pass play), we stopped 'em.' "
Four yards and a cloud of Jerry Rice's cologne.
Four yards at a time, Walsh's 49ers won three Super Bowls. Critics disparaged Walsh's schemes, but couldn't stop them.
The bad guys, Walsh didn't dink-'n'-dunk 'em as much as he out-thunk 'em.
Along the way, he berated his men and he praised them, made them cry and laugh, tore them down and built them up, made them hate him and, in the end, love him.
Walsh swung a mean pick, and no 49er ever struck it richer.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An Email From The Animal Fighting & Cruelty Campaign On Michael Vick

For some reason I don't think this is an official organization; rather, it seems to be an email from a single person. Regardless, it explains the pain animal rights activists have over the entire Michael Vick Dog Fighting Issue. Here's the email.

Dear Friends of Animals,

We received your comments regarding the recent dogfighting allegations
against Michael Vick and we understand you disagree with our call for
the NFL to suspend the celebrity quarterback as well as our call for
Nike to drop him as a spokesperson. We apologize for the delayed
response. We wanted to take a moment to explain on position.

As you know, in late April Surry County Virginia Sheriff's Office raided
Vick's 15-acre property and massive evidence of animal fighting was
found. There were blood splatters on the floor of one room and a
blood-stained rolled-up carpet in the corner of another. Veterinarian
drugs and, according to one account, syringes were found in the house.
More than 60 dogs were also found, some of them heavily scarred with
gashes on their bodies. One had a severely injured leg that was bent
at a grotesque angle.

Since the raid, Vick has been indicted for charges related to
dogfighting. The indictment cites horrible instances of animal cruelty,
including killing dogs by means of electrocution and slamming one to the
ground several times. The NFL has taken these allegations seriously
enough to bench Vick and he has been dropped by many of his corporate
sponsors, including Nike.

The judicial system will determine whether or not Vick is guilty of
violating state or federal laws against animal fighting, but at the very
least, Vick turned a blind eye to the horrible animal cruelty on his
property. We believe that our nation should have a zero-tolerance policy
for dogfighting. Michael Vick has not been denied his right to due
process and in fact, he even has the means to hire top-dollar lawyers,
which is more than most people can do. He has his day in court.
Regardless, our nation should not just focus on this case, but the fact
that this blood-sport is an epidemic in our society and warrants our
immediate attention.

We appreciate your interest in dogfighting issues and we also encourage
you to contact the NFL to urge them to adopt a zero-tolerance police on


Thank you for your considerate thoughts on this issue.

Animal Fighting & Cruelty Campaign

Interested in taking action online to help animals? Then join our online community! Go to http://humanesociety.org/join

Monday, August 06, 2007

Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt Like Scrimage

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals wound up their first week of training camp under new coach Ken Whisenhunt on Saturday with a workout that started badly but ended well.

Several thousands lined the practice field on autograph day and, for a while, especially for the offense, it was not a pretty show.

"You know what? I hope they understand it's one day of practice," Whisenhunt said. "We built a pretty good week. A lot of people have seen that and recognize that."

After Whisenhunt broke up the controlled scrimmage and had a few words with the players, the defense played better and the offense finished strong, capped by a pair of touchdowns in a full-contact goal-line drill.

"Something was missing," Whisenhunt said. "I didn't see the intensity. We didn't have the same level as we had before."

Matt Leinart's touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Troy Bienemann and a pair of crunching runs up the middle by Marcel Shipp for scores ended the workout as a thunderstorm rumbled nearby.

"The defense picked it up," Whisenhunt said. "The offense picked it up at the end. We had a good goal-line session, so I'm very pleased with the way it resolved itself."

For the enthusiastic fans, most of them clad in Cardinals red, the goal-line success made up for the fumbled snaps, false starts and assorted other miscues earlier in the session.

"The challenge for a good football team is one that can respond to that," Whisenhunt said. "I think I saw that at the end of practice, and that's hard to do, to change that attitude during practice. So I was very encouraged with that."

Leinart was visibly upset with the mistakes.

"He should be angry," Whisenhunt said. "I think he showed some good leadership today because he was upset with the offense, and that's what we need."

The offensive line remains a critical work in progress.

"The line's playing physical. Our problem is just working together," Whisenhunt said. "Our defense is throwing a lot of blitzes at us. What we have to get better at is working together and picking those things up."

Whisenhunt said his biggest concern going into next week is resolving the competition for a few starting jobs. Oliver Ross and recently signed first-round draft pick Levi Brown are competing at right tackle, and there are several players in the mix for tight end and cornerback.

He hasn't decided on punt or kick returners, either. Decisions will be easier, Whisenhunt said, after the Cardinals play their first preseason game, next Saturday at Oakland.

The organized autograph session came before practice. According to Northern Arizona University, four fans spent the night in sleeping bags to be first in line. A few others slept in cars or RVs.

"Unbelievable," Whisenhunt said.

Larry Fitzgerald has had a standout first week of camp, catching virtually everything thrown to him and working hard at improving the details of his game, Whisenhunt said.

Fitzgerald said it's normal for the defense to be ahead of the offense this early in camp. The difference is magnified, he said, because it's a new offense but the defense remains largely the same under the same coordinator, Clancy Pendergast.

As for the big crowd?

"This is nice right here," Fitzgerald said after signing dozens of autographs. "And as soon as we get in the playoffs, it's going to be like this every year."

Buffalo Bills' Marshawn Lynch and linebacker Paul Posluszny Sit Out Scrimmage

From http://www.buffalonews.com

Bills swap some paint

Updated: 08/05/07 7:37 AM

Fans got a little extra treat Saturday as coach Dick Jauron ended practice with a 10-minute, full-contact scrimmage with most of the rookies and young veterans. Some rookies, such as running back Marshawn Lynch and linebacker Paul Posluszny sat out, and no prominent veterans participated.

The Bills do very little hitting and no tackling in practice, so the brief but hard-hitting scrimmage was intended to give the coaches a better look at young players in a more physical setting.

“With a lot of the guys we don’t know, we need to see them and see where they are,” Jauron said. “We ran about 14 or 15 plays and that was good. Now we’ll look at the tape. At least it will help us evaluate them under live conditions. That’s not like a game will be for them, but at least it gives us a look at them.”

Neufeld hurt

The injury bug continues to plague the Bills. Tight end Ryan Neufeld suffered a hyperextended knee on a running play during an 11- on-11 segment of practice. He walked off the field under his own power and was examined by head trainer Bud Carpenter, but was held out the rest of the day.

Jauron doesn’t think the injury is severe, but isn’t sure how long Neufeld will be sidelined. Neufeld suffered a season-ending foot injury a year ago.

Starting left tackle Jason Peters got very little work because of a sore calf muscle he hurt during last Thursday’s night practice. The injury isn’t serious and he’s expected to practice Monday.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle John McCargo’s strained oblique kept him from practicing Saturday. Cornerback Jason Webster (hamstring), offensive guard Brad Butler (hamstring), running back Josh Scobey (calf) and defensive end Anthony Hargrove (hamstring) also didn’t practice.

Sideline views

The defense clearly got the better of the offense during the short scrimmage. Two of the best hits

Mark Mulville/Buffalo News

Linebacker Coy Wire has been making his presence felt during practices. were delivered by linebacker Kevin Harrison. After catching a short pass, running back Fred Jackson juked linebacker Josh Stamer off his feet, but Harrison leveled Jackson with a jolting tackle. Harrison also forced a fumble with a blow to running back Dwayne Wright in the backfield.… Josh Reed turned in the best catch of the day, making a one-handed grab after beating safety Ko Simpson over the middle.… Linebacker Coy Wire had another good day, blowing up a pass to Wright and intercepting rookie quarterback Trent Edwards to end a drive during a two-minute drill.… Linebacker John DiGiorgio (hip flexor) and offensive lineman Christian Gattis (knee) returned to practice, but both were limited to mostly individual work.… Punter Brian Moorman was the only absentee from practice. He was excused to tend to a personal matter.

Bills host young Backers

The Jr. Bills Backers were special guests of the team Saturday. About 400 kids, ages 3 to 14, attended practice and received gifts such as cameras and autograph books. They also were treated to a postpractice autograph session with several players. Brothers Stephen and Nicholas Phillips (ages 9 and 12, respectively) of Kenmore won a contest to interview Lynch and

Posluszny for feature

stories that will appear

on the Bills’ Web site in the future.

From Buffalo take the Thruway to Exit 47. Take Route 490 East for 25

miles to Exit 25 (Fairport


Road — 31F). Turn right or left and follow signs to fan parking. Shuttle buses take fans from the nearby lots to the practice fields.


After 10 consecutive days without a break, the players have today off. The Bills return to work on Monday with a night practice from 7 to 9:05 p.m. There are no tickets available and you must have one to attend. The team will work out Tuesday from 1 to 3:05 p.m.

NFL Blackout / Broadcast Policy Text - NFLMedia.com

This is the official NFL policy on blackouts from NFLMedia.com


Glossary of Terms
Franchised Market - television market (ADI or DMA) that has an NFL franchise (i.e. Buffalo, NY or Phoenix, AZ).
Secondary Blackout Market - television market in the home territory (with station(s) having signal penetration to within 75 miles of the game site) of an NFL franchise that is subject to blackout restrictions.
Early Game - Game with kickoff at 1:05 p.m. (Eastern Time).
Late Game - Game with kickoff at 4:05 or 4:15 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Blackout Policy
To ensure an NFL club's ability to sell all of its game tickets, and to make televised games more attractive to viewers through the presence of sellout crowds, the following policy is observed by the NFL:

For a home game to be aired locally in the franchised market and in any secondary blackout market(s), the game must be sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff. If the game is not a sellout by the 72 hour cutoff, both the home franchised market and the secondary markets of the carrying network will air an alternate game.

Number of Games in a Market
With regard to the number of NFL games seen in a particular market on a Sunday afternoon, there are three different situations.
An NFL franchised market (i.e. New York, Chicago, Dallas, etc.).
On a week when the NFL team (or teams) in a market is on the ROAD Sunday, Monday or Thursday night or Saturday afternoon, the market will receive three Sunday afternoon games... two telecasts by the network with the doubleheader week and one game by the network with the single game week. When an NFL team in the market is playing at HOME on Sunday afternoon, the market will receive two games... one game on FOX and one game on CBS, regardless of which network has the doubleheader week. Unless 1) the home team's assigned telecaster that day (CBS or FOX) is also on the doubleheader network and 2) the game is sold out 72 hours in advance. Then the three games would be the home team's and two other games in the remaining early or late window.
All other television markets (including secondary blackout markets).
Network affiliates in these markets will receive three games on Sunday afternoon, two on the doubleheader network (one early and one late) and one game on the single game network (either early or late).
Selection of Games to be Telecast Regionally
By network contract, all team road games must be telecast back to that team's home territory (franchised market and secondary blackout markets).

Other than the above requirement, the televising network is the sole selector of which game(s) will be aired in all markets.

NFL Hall Of Fame Class - Interview Transcript From NFLMedia.com

August 3, 2007 - NFL Hall Of Fame Class - Interview Transcript From NFLMedia.com

An interview with:

ADAM SCHEFTER: Our first member of
the 2007 class Hall of Fame played tight end for
the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977. He was a
seven-time Pro Bowl selection, a member of the
1970s all-decade team, and a man that Deacon
Jones told me this morning was a much, much
better blocker than people knew. I call to the
podium the first member of the class of 2007,
Charlie Sanders.
said step up and talk about the weekend, what it's
like. You know, every time I get to a point where I
try to explain how I feel, what the whole experience
is about, I get halfway through the sentence and I
really can't complete the sentence because it's
something I never experienced before and it's
something that's very hard to put into words.
It gives you a chance, I do know, to
humble yourself, because it also gives you the
opportunity to look back over your life and realize
how many people actually had a hand in what's
happening to me right now. If that doesn't humble
you, nothing will. I'm excited for my family,
especially my kids more than anything, because I
realize how much time I took away from them to
get here. This is kind of, okay, this is a payback, a
let-me-off-the-hook type of a deal (laughter).
I am elated. I'm so excited. I woke up this
morning. The first thing popped in my mind is,
Tomorrow's Saturday. We kid Roger Wehrli about
the fact that right after the announcements he was
always last because of the W in his last name. It
was a standing joke: Roger's last. All of a sudden
they told me I was going to be first.
You know, I know how he feels now. I'm
going to break the ice tomorrow, and then maybe I
can sit back and relax. But right now I am probably
more nervous than I was as a rookie drafted by the
Detroit Lions.
Q. This applies to the whole group, but
it's the elite status of being in the Hall of Fame.
You're one of these six, 241 in the world. Go
back to your last year, in 1977. Probably 50,000
men have gone to training camp since then.
When is it like to be in such a small club?
CHARLIE SANDERS: Again, it's very
humbling, especially for me. I've never been the
type of guy that started out my life wanting to be an
athlete, much less a professional football player. I
felt I was always competitive in any area that I tried
to go after. I'd like to think that I would have been
just as competitive had it been any work of life.
It's just unbelievable that I'm standing here
today. I just keep asking myself, Why me? My
career was good enough. I mean, I felt very happy
with my career after 10 years with the Detroit
Lions. This is just icing on the cake. I mean,
again, it's humbling. It's like you stole somebody
else's blessing, because I definitely was blessed
prior to this. It's more than anyone could imagine,
believe me.
Q. You mentioned there were a lot of
people that helped you get to this point. Who
are some of those people?
CHARLIE SANDERS: Now you're going
to have me expose my speech. I'm having a hard
enough time right now. Maybe I should break the
ice. It will be easier tomorrow. Rehearsed it on
Most of my help in terms of being
competitive and challenging life, what I go at,
basically was mental preparation. That was the
way my father was. My father was an
August 3, 2007
visit our archives at asapsports.com
athletic-looking individual, but education was all he
believed in. He was a type that felt that if you
wanted to play sports you had to earn the right, but
education was going to come first.
So the strict disciplinary type approach is
what he was about. I mean, if you were going to
do it, you were going to do it right or you were
going to do it over, and I mean starting over.
Some may look at it as that's a cruel,
harsh way to attack life. But, you know what, life is
cruel, too. I attribute most of who and what I am to
the type of person my father was.
Thank you.
ADAM SCHEFTER: The next person we'll
be calling to the podium will be the former Houston
Oilers and Tennessee Titans guard, tackle, center,
long snapper, everything. He played 19 seasons
in the NFL, Bruce Matthews.
BRUCE MATTHEWS: Well, I got to admit,
this weekend is kind of a struggle for me. From the
perspective of a fan, which I feel I am, of the NFL, I
really feel like an outsider looking in.
What I mean by that is just going to the
Ray Nitschke luncheon, seeing all of these Hall of
Famers, it's like they should allow me to sneak out
the side door. I guess for me it hadn't really sunk
in yet.
It's just a great honor. I think Charlie said
it so well: it's very humbling. I think more than
anything, to play this game was such a blessing, it
never was a job. I never felt a sense of
entitlement. It was like my whole life I was allowed
to be a kid, and they paid me as well.
Even being able to play all the years I did,
it never was work. This weekend is very much like
that. It's like, You're going to allow me to do what?
I kind of look around. You sure you're talking
about the right guy?
It's a great honor to be here. I'm sure over
the course of the weekend it will sink in a little
more. It's been emphasized over and over it will
probably take a year before you really understand
the impact of everything that's gone on, but I'm
excited to be here.
Q. How does one play 19 seasons in
the NFL?
BRUCE MATTHEWS: I've been blessed.
My brother Clay played 19 years for the Browns
and Falcons. My family was blessed with the
bodies that could take the pounding. The good
Lord just gave us those bodies. Kind of ended up
for me, I was coaching a youth team my second
year out. I slipped in the mud, tore my quad
tendon. First time I ever had knee surgery.
Nineteen years in the NFL, never missed a game.
Then a bunch of nine-year-old boys took me down
Q. Bruce, last week baseball had its
Hall of Fame. Players that played for one team
their whole careers, like Cal Ripken. Most of
you guys predate the start of free agency. 15
years of free agency, except for one year for
Thurman, all you guys played for the same
franchise. Do you think that era is going to be
ending in the NFL? What, in your mind, do you
think has been the good and bad of free
BRUCE MATTHEWS: Well, my dad also
emphasized in me a sense of commitment and
loyalty. You know, the Oilers, we didn't necessarily
have the best teams always, but I always felt a
responsibility that I was put in that position -- and I
don't want to take away from anybody who has
ever signed a free-agent contract, because I truly
understand. But to me it was like, yeah, I guess I
could jump ship and go to a winning team, but I'd
rather accomplish something where I started out.
I can't say there weren't moments in my
career where I didn't consider it. But it was just
part of the challenge. Yeah, I could go play with
the 49ers or somebody - no offense to any 49ers
fans out there. I just always looked at it as an
I think there are those players around still
today. You know, even Cal Ripken's record.
People talk that that type record will never be
broken. I disagree. I think there are guys out there
who have the same love of the game that
everyone has been referenced here today, my
classmates have referenced, and they appreciate
the game just for the sake of playing the game.
Obviously the money is great, the
notoriety, everything that comes along with it.
Unfortunately so much attention is drawn now to
the negative aspects of the game. But there are
those guys out there who play the game, play it
right, play it for the right reasons.
Thank you very much.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Randy Covitz of the
Kansas City Star informed me the next players
called to the podium was the finest player ever
born and raised in Missouri. He is a member, like
Charlie Sanders, of the NFL's all-decade team
visit our archives at asapsports.com
from the 1970s.
Former St. Louis Cardinals cornerback
from 1969 to '82, Roger Wehrli.
ROGER WEHRLI: Well, thank you. Like
the other fellas, I'm just so thrilled to be here. As I
say, I got to play my whole career in the state of
Missouri. I grew up in Missouri, played at the
University of Missouri, then drafted by the St. Louis
What a thrill that was to be there in my
home state for my whole career, be able to have
my family and friends come to the games, my folks
see me play basically my whole career.
They want us to talk a little bit about how
we feel about this. It's really almost beyond
description to be voted into this group. You know,
to be with the guys that you've played against,
played with, three of the other Cardinals that I
played with as teammates are in the Hall of Fame.
Many of the receivers I faced during my career in
the of Hall of Fame, guys that we faced. I played a
few games against Charlie early in my career.
You know, it's just something that you
dream about, but you can't really hope for it
because you don't want to be disappointed if it
doesn't happen. When I got that phone call this
past February that I was in, all the emotions were
there. It was just a wonderful thing. I'm so thrilled
to be here and be a part of this.
Q. After waiting 25 years, did you think
the day would pass you by?
ROGER WEHRLI: I thought probably it
had. Although the last few years I've been -- I
made the cut of the 25, the cut of the 15, and all of
that. I think more recently, the last few years, it
gets a lot more publicity because they publicize
those cuts. You start thinking, Well, maybe I have
a chance.
But really I thought it had probably passed
me by and I would go into the senior division. My
last year of eligibility, this was my 20th year of
being eligible, which is all you have in the current
class, and it happened this year. As I say, I'm just
blessed to be here with these guys.
Q. How about playing your entire
career at Missouri. Can you talk about what
that was like. Strange being in Canton, Ohio?
ROGER WEHRLI: As I said earlier, it was
so neat. At first you get letters from pro teams
after playing at Missouri. You get letters from
some of the pro teams. You get letters from
Dallas, San Francisco, some of the teams that you
think, Well, that would be neat to go there, neat to
go to California, neat to play in Dallas because
they were kind of America's team at the time, all
those types of things.
But then drafted by the Cardinals. In fact, I
was in St. Louis the night before the draft getting
an award from college football. Coach Charlie
Winner, who was then head coach of the St. Louis
Cardinals, sat at the dais with us. He leaned over
and mentioned they were interested in me. That
was the first time I knew that the cardinals were
even thinking about drafting me.
That was kind of a thrill because I didn't
really know they were interested in me. Sure
enough, they drafted me in the first round the next
day. It worked out wonderful. I got to play 14
years in St. Louis. Just kind of moved right across
the state from the Kansas City side over to the
St. Louis side. Just a wonderful time there.
Q. Could you share with us your
thoughts on the Nitschke luncheon today,
being a first-year member of that group, how
that went.
ROGER WEHRLI: It's wonderful to be
there with the guys that are in the Hall of Fame.
When they talked earlier, being a W, I'm the last of
this class, so I'm No. 241. To think that's a select
group, a very select group of all the people that
have played. To go to the luncheon this afternoon,
be in the same room with just those guys that are
here, and what a great group we have coming
back this year.
I think there's over 80 players coming back
here, at that luncheon today. Just to sit there, you
know, I sat at a table with the Cardinals', Larry
Wilson, Dierdorf. You know, just to look around,
see all the guys you saw when you were growing
up, as I say, played against that are in this Hall of
Fame, it's just very humbling.
They talk a little bit about what it means to
be in the Hall of Fame. You know, it's just beyond
words really.
Thank you.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Our next member
from the class of 2007 was a running back that
spent 12 seasons in Buffalo and one more in
Miami. He led the NFL for a record four straight
years in total yards from scrimmage. I present to
you, ladies and gentlemen, Thurman Thomas.
THURMAN THOMAS: Thank you. I'm
visit our archives at asapsports.com
pretty much like these guys, the next couple words
that come out of my mouth will be my speech. I
mean, I'm just at a loss for words right now without
giving away my speech.
I tell you something, just being at the Ray
Nitschke luncheon this afternoon, and Warren
Moon said something that really hit home, I was
kind of -- I was sitting in the back of the room at a
table with two other guys that I had just met,
guests there at the luncheon. He got up and he
said, As you look around this room, do you actually
belong here, seeing all the great players?
I looked around the room. I saw Joe
Greene, I know that he won four Super Bowls. I
hate to pick on Mike, but I was looking at Mike.
Bruce, Mike Munchak, Warren Moon, that they had
never been to a Super Bowl. I look at Troy
Aikman, you know, guys like that, Michael who
won a Super Bowl. It still hit me then, as like,
I took one last look and said, Well, Marv
and Jim is over there, so I guess I belong here
(laughter). It kind of dawned on me, they lost four,
I lost four, I guess I do belong here.
It was just a luncheon, man, where I was
just sitting down, you know, looking at all the great
players that were in that room. There's some great
ones that I watched when I was real little. Some I
had an opportunity to watch during the end of their
career. It's just an outstanding group of guys. I
feel like me going in with the class that I'm going
in, 2007, it's something that's special, something
that I'll never, ever forget.
My family, they're up here having a great
time along with the other players' families. So this
is something that will be remembered from my
family and friends that are coming up here today,
tomorrow, for a long period of time.
Q. Does going into the Hall of Fame
take away any of the sting from the Super Bowl
THURMAN THOMAS: Well, I don't know if
it takes away any sting. I wish that we could have
won one. You know, I never really experienced
what Michael and some of the other guys
experienced as far as winning the Super Bowl,
having that feeling afterwards.
Now, I know I'm going into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame, I have a lot of teammates coming up
here. The after party should be enjoyable. I don't
know if it will feel like a Super Bowl. It will feel like
a Hall of Fame party. But that will be special to
You know, that's the only thing that I can
actually go on. Like I say, I've been in the locker
room on four losing teams. That's not a good
feeling. But when you have teammates like Bruce,
Andre, Darryl Talley, a head coach like Marv Levy,
it seems to ease the pain a little bit. I really thank
those guys for being there, actually, and I told
them all the time, being there for me, because I
didn't play well in the last couple of Super Bowls.
When we had probably our best chance to
compete, those guys have always stood up and
said, Hey, it's a team game, don't worry about it.
You tried your hardest, didn't give up us on us.
That's all we ever asked for. Just a great bunch of
great group of guys that I'd go to war with any day.
Q. I think it's given a Bruce will be here.
Are you expecting to see Bruce Smith and
Andre Reed standing here with you?
THURMAN THOMAS: Well, showing how
confident Bruce is, we were at a golf tournament
about a month ago. He actually signed a ball,
"Bruce Smith, Hall of Fame '09." So I guess you
can see how confident he is of being here in a
couple of years (laughter).
I truly hope that Andre Reed gets an
opportunity to get in the Hall of Fame. His
numbers are great. He was around a group with
Marv Levy, myself, and Jim Kelly. To me, you
know, just talking about my teammates, Steve
Tasker, to me the best special teams player to ever
play the game. So we have some guys who are
going to be coming up here pretty soon. Hopefully
those guys will get in.
Q. How long will your speech be (asked
by Michael Irvin)?
THURMAN THOMAS: I think it will be
anywhere from, I guess, 9 to 12 minutes. But they
did inform us -- well, they informed you they
wouldn't cut to commercial, so I may get up there
and talk a little bit longer. So who knows.
Might be short. I timed it last night. It was
nine and a half minutes. I've been talking to
Deacon Jones. He said, Whatever you do, write it
down, which it is written down. And he said, If you
just have to do this, Thank you, read, read, read,
read, finish, thank you very much, leave, without
looking up again, he said, Do it that way (laughter).
So hopefully I'll be able to do it better than
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Q. Has Michael Irvin said to you that
even if you leave a few minutes he would use
them? (Asked by Michael Irvin)?
THURMAN THOMAS: Yes, he has. He
has definitely told me that, and I'm sure he has the
other players, too. I'm sure Bruce Matthews, his
speech won't be as long. Roger won't say too
much. Charlie said that he won't say too much.
So you may have at least 50 minutes, I think
(laughter). It starts at 6:00, ends at 9:00.
You could have anywhere from maybe
8:00 to 9:00. We're leaving it all up to you, baby,
because we know how important it is to you and
Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. If you want all the
time, you can have it (laughter).
Q. Who is going to be the first person
to cry?
THURMAN THOMAS: They already
counted out Michael because he already cried at
the press conference in Miami. It won't be
Michael. I will probably say it would be Michael
again. That's what I'm going to put my money on.
Q. When you were playing, did you
look around the locker room and say, There are
a lot of Hall of Famers in this room?
THURMAN THOMAS: No, I didn't. You
know, including myself, too. I mean, I think when
you come into the National Football League you
don't think right away, Oh, yeah, I'm coming in to
be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You come in
to think you're going to try to win as many
championships as you can.
To play on such great teams as I did with a
bunch of great players I played with, dominated the
AFC for a long period of time, playing really in a
small market, to get the publicity we got was great
for all of us because we had the stats, Jim had the
stats, I had the stats, Andre, Bruce, Steve Tasker.
You can go on and on. Marv Levy was the best
coach in Bills history.
You never really looked at it until I guess
after you finish playing. Marv Levy became the
first coach to get in from that team, from the
Buffalo Bills. After that it's kind of been like a
domino effect for Jim, myself, Andre, hopefully
Steve, and Bruce in a couple of years.
Thank you very much.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Our next member
from the class of 2007 played 12 seasons in Dallas
for the Dallas Cowboys. He was known as the
“Playmaker.” But as John Madden himself said
when he was up here earlier, he was not the
play-maker as much as he was a linebacker
playing wide receiver. I now call on Michael Irvin
to come up here and answer a few questions.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Hello. I missed John.
He was up here talking about me, and let me tell
you about John. One thing that I am kind of
disappointed in my career. I wanted to catch a
thousand passes, and I probably could have. First
of all, I thank God that I don't have Thurman's
problem, because I do have three Super Bowl
rings (laughter). Let me get that out of the way.
But I wanted to catch a thousand passes.
One day in that meeting with John and Pat, I
shared a secret with them about how to get open
without being as fast as some of the other guys. I
said, you know, John, sometimes when guys are
real close, as long as I'm in the running motion, I
kind of (indicating), go get the ball.
I said, John, that's between you and I.
Don't tell anybody. Of course, he must have run
out of things to say during the broadcast, because
that game, this secret between John and I, he
broadcast to the world.
So now they bring in the rule. Every time I
got ready to play, Watch Michael pushing. So
those last 250 catches, I put that on John. I could
have gotten to a thousand if he would have left my
secret between him and me.
So whatever John said, I don't know. I just
don't know. John says too much sometimes
(laughter), and that's the problem.
You hear most of the guys talking about
that luncheon today. To describe it, honestly it's
not anything you can describe. Adam and I was
talking about that earlier. I mean, to sit in that
room with guys you've admired so much. Not only
to sit in that room and look at them, but they grab
the microphone and start talking about you.
So I was sitting there, and Deacon was
talking about me. I'm thinking, oh, my God, I've
never had a lack-of-confidence problem, not even
lacking in the ego department (smiling), but I sat in
that room and didn't squeak a word - not one word.
I did not say a word.
Earlier we had a meeting in one of these
rooms. Like the rookie, I came in and I grabbed
my chair. They had tables. The tables looked full.
I grabbed my chair, quietly went and sat against
the wall. It's like sometimes when you're in the
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room where there's so much greatness, it's okay to
capitulate and say, Hey, I'm just happy to be here.
That's how I feel. I'm just happy to be
here. Don't know if I deserve it. Don't know if
anybody deserves it really. But I'm just happy to
be here.
Q. You've had so many experiences in
your life, how does something like this live up
to your expectations?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Well, to live up means I
had to have the expectations. I don't know that I've
expected what I'm seeing. The size of it all, it's not
anything you can fantasize about or dream of.
When I used to train, I used things to motivate me
like, you know, during the off-season if I'm training,
when I get at the pushing point where I'm tired, I
would say, Hey, Pro Bowlers don't stop here. The
Pro Bowl could motivate me.
When I would get past the Pro Bowl point I
would say, Are you winning the Super Bowl or not?
Boop, that would push you a little bit more. You
get tired there, you know, Super Bowl MVP? You
push there.
But not once did I even mutter out of my
mouth about Hall of Fame. Just didn't do. I just
didn't do it because I couldn't fathom it in my mind.
I couldn't put it together. I just didn't do it.
And now that I'm here and I see what it
really is, I'm glad I didn't do it 'cause I probably
would have killed myself trying to run up to what
the Hall of Fame is.
So, you know, I had no expectations about
it, but I'm just happy to be here.
Q. You're one of 17 children in your
family. Can you talk about the role your family,
siblings, had on your development as a football
MICHAEL IRVIN: It's a funny thing
because I think growing up with so many siblings,
the good thing about it is you do learn that it's not
all about you. That's what team is all about. You
play a part, you play a role in the big picture.
And I do believe I'm fortunate enough to
win championships everywhere I played. I do
believe the ability to get along with people.
Because once we start breaking it all down, it's
only all about getting along with people. Can you
lead? Can you help somebody become better at
what they're doing?
I don't think that I was ever the greatest
player on a football field, but I do believe that I
helped players play great. There's a great
difference there. I think you'll get many players
that help players play great, you're going to win
championships with that, and that makes all the
difference in the world.
Jimmy Johnson, when I was talking to
Coach Johnson, he said to me, You know you're
my favorite player, Michael. Congratulating me,
called me to congratulate me. Said, You're my
favorite player. I said, Coach, that's great. Do you
know what that means to me to hear you say that?
He said I worked hard. I used to train
thinking about I want him to say I was his best
player. To hear you say that. He said, Stop,
Michael. I never said my best, I said favorite
(laughter). I almost wrecked the car laughing. I
said, Okay, I I'll take favorite. I'll take favorite.
I hope that's what he was meaning, he
was trying to convey to me. No, you were not the
best, but you helped people play great, and that
made the difference.
Q. Where did your will come from?
MICHAEL IRVIN: I hate losing. You
know, it's funny because I was telling Roger's
business partner, Roger Staubach, because he still
argues at basketball games and everything. I hate
losing. And now, even now when I'm playing
basketball or something, I'm out there arguing with
these young guys. They're much better athletes
than I am now, but I'm arguing with them, No, we
When I hear the Roger Staubach stories it
makes me feel good, because I think I'm crazy.
But then I hear that Roger does this stuff. Then I
think, Okay, it's okay. If he's doing it, then, okay,
maybe it's normal, it's just normal.
I never got when people say, I understand
sportsmanship, I understand sportsmanship, I
understand that, but don't tell me -- and I know kids
may be watching, but I'm sorry, I'm going to tell you
the truth -- that it's not about winning and losing,
but it is. It is about winning and losing.
For me it's always been about winning and
losing, and that's where the will comes in at. I did
not, do not, and will not. I don't want to lose.
Q. When you look back over all of your
accomplishments in your career where does
this weekend rank?
MICHAEL IRVIN: This is tops. This is
tops. You hear people say that this is the crowning
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moment of your career, and it is just that. You
know, there are plenty of Super Bowl rings in that
room. It is the elite.
I always used to tell people, Okay, the best
get to go to college. Then the best of that best
gets to play in the NFL. This is the best of the best
of the best of that best in the Hall of Fame.
To be in that room and say that I'm part of
that, it's a mind-blowing honor. It is. It's
overwhelming. It's overwhelming. And it does get
embarrassing. It's hard. I don't ever get
embarrassed, but it does get embarrassing. You
get little old ladies walking up to you in the airport
saying, Congratulations on the Hall. I'm like, What
do you know about the Hall of Fame? It's like,
Wow, this is different, this is different.
Q. How important is it that you get to
share this with your family? Seems like you
brought a big chunk of Broward County up
here with you.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Yeah, a big chunk of my
money is gone (laughter).
No, it's very important. That's why I would
say -- I said it in the press conference in Miami that
it did work out great. My mom was right. God
does know best. It worked out the best way. First
and foremost, my leader, our leader, our
quarterback, Troy Aikman, he led us to three Super
It was just that he walked in the Hall first
and he led. He's leading my group of guys into the
Hall, so he went first. I have the opportunity to get
in in Miami, right there, right at home, right in front
of everybody. I thought that was great. God fixed
it for me.
Because the reality of it all to me was, Troy
got his MVP in Pasadena. Emmitt got his MVP in
Atlanta. The next Super Bowl was in Miami. That
was supposed to be my MVP. We went down 21
and lost to San Francisco.
I told Emmitt, Atlanta is as close as we
gonna get to Pensacola. There was going to be no
Super Bowl in Pensacola. The Miami Super Bowl
was supposed to be my MVP. It was San Diego,
they played a lot of man coverage. It lined up
perfectly. It did not work out. I guess God said, I
got you there, Michael. Let me give you this back.
So to get inducted, called in Miami, it was
great for me. It kind of made everything all right for
me again.
Q. Why did you select Jerry Jones to
make the presenting speech, and have you
finished your speech yet?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Well, I selected Jerry
because he's the right man for many reasons, for
many reasons. I sat with my wife -- and I'll share
this with you -- I sat with my wife and I said, Baby,
okay, who gets your vote? And she started
sharing things with me that I didn't know anything
about. She started sharing when I laid on that
carpet, and it was carpet, in Philadelphia with my
neck injury.
While I was under the doctor's care, Jerry
called her and talked to her until she was calm
about everything. And when things were not going
great for me, Jerry would call her and talk to her
and let her know that we're going to be right here,
you know, we care about him. She's never said
anything to me about any of that.
You know, Jerry and I go beyond football,
beyond football. I don't play for Jerry now. We still
sit down and talk. He asks me about my plans.
What are your plans? He's always talking about
this 36 months, give me your three-year plan. We
always got to be working 36 months. And I'm not
catching one touchdown for him, not one.
He means a great deal, great deal to me,
and I appreciate his friendship. I appreciated when
I was playing his ownership, the type of owner he
is. He has the same desires to win Super Bowls
as the players do. You don't find that with owners
a lot of the times. They're guys that want to make
money, but this guy really wants to win Super
Bowls. I have an appreciation for that.
I tell people all the time, I love that he
comes to practice. If you're going to bust your butt
in practice like you supposed to practice, you
should want the owner to come out here, too, to
practice. Because when I go ask for my money we
shouldn't have any problems. You see how I
practice, so why would you not want him out there
all the time? I want him on the field. I want him to
be here every day. I like that it matters that he's
around all the time.
I think the world of him, I really do. I think
the world of him as a man. I think the world of his
family. It was an easy pick for me.
Q. Your speech?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Am I finished with it?
My speech is in here, it really is. I think it's
important for me with all that I have gone through
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to share as much as is in here and who I am.
There are a lot of people that have heard a lot
about me - some things good, some things bad. I
get the opportunity -- I want to try to share as much
of me with people as I can.
Q. On or off the field, any regrets from
your career?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Of course I have
regrets. Some of the things that have happened
off the football field. I don't think anyone would
raise their hand and say, I want that to happen.
But when it's all said and done, do I move
on with it, then you try to start looking at the bright
side of everything. You say, Okay, that's
happened. What do you do you now? What's the
bright side of it? What's the bright side? I look and
I say, when I go to talk to kids that are having
issues or had problems, they perk up. They know
when I walk in the room, He's been there and he's
done that. They lend me their ear. I get an
opportunity to really have some great
I get on airplanes and I can't tell you how
many just fellowship sessions I've had with people
just on airplanes. They heard the story, they sit
down, talk to me, they open up, they cry. They
may hand the phone over, Can you call my son?
He's going through something. Call my daughter.
She's going through something. Maybe you can
They loved watching you.
Those are the times, though I will always
regret the mistakes, the bad decisions. I don't
want to call them mistakes, but bad decisions I
made. I will always regret them. Those are the
times that I'm okay, yeah.
Q. You mentioned losing earlier, Troy
Aikman. In the earlier years you had some lean
times. When Troy first came in did you say,
This guy might be able to turn it around for us?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Let me tell you, the first
year, what did we go 3-13 the first year? I cried
after every game like a baby. Flat out cried.
Boo-hoo. I mean, tears were running. The guys
were walking by me, picking up their checks,
talking about, I don't know what you're doing,
I was taking down their names, too. As
soon as Jimmy got there I turned that list in. They
got to go (laughter).
When we drafted Troy that year, I said,
Oh, we got it. That's all I needed was one guy. I
can get this thing turned around. I'm good. Went
1-15 that next year.
But the good thing about it is somebody
else was crying with me. You found that it
mattered. It mattered. I thought, I got me
somebody else that it really matters to. That's all
you need. You just keep putting people around
you that it matters to. Troy, we got Emmitt of
course, it mattered to Jimmy. We had a head
coach with all of his star players, naturally that
trickles down, that trickles down. We were able to
be very successful.
I like the fact -- I didn't enjoy it. There's a
difference between enjoying and liking. I didn't
enjoying losing, but I like the fact, as I look back,
we started out with those lean years, because
through those lean years we built a bond that held,
that sustained us through those great years.
That's why we never had disputes, we
never broke up. You would never hear me call out
my quarterback. You would never hear me talk
about my teammates in a bad way, because they
are that: They are my teammates. But they were
also family.
They’re taking me away now. I could sit
and talk with you guys quite a while, but they're
telling me that's it. Thank you, guys (laughter).
FastScripts by ASAP Sports

NFL Hall Of Fame - Michael Irvin Speech Text Transcript

From NFL Media.com.


JERRY JONES: Will, W‑i‑l‑l, I've never seen anybody with more of it. Competitiveness, whatever it took, the competitiveness for the entire team not just for himself. I think of focus. When it was time to practice, it was complete focus.

To the person that will ever talk about Michael Irvin, it's the first thing they'll say, He's the hardest worker we've ever been around. Strength was his number one thing. I'm talking with physical strength. When I was on the Competition Committee, at my protesting the league made a Michael Irvin rule as to just how much you could use that strength against d-backs.

We had it all on the table there. We spot San Francisco 21 points in five minutes. That team fought back all day long. Michael Irvin statistically had one of his greatest games. It was like a heavyweight prize fight. The battle that Michael was involved in with Deion Sanders on almost every play, boy did he make play after play after play.

It's one of only three games that I've ever teared up after the game was over. It meant that much and more to everybody in the organization. Go with me, if you will, for a high point in his career, to Pasadena, the Rose Bowl. 100,000 people out there. Beautiful mountains in the background. Michael scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. One of them, when he scored, he had his back to the end zone. He wheeled and ran through the end zone with one arm outstretched, and we go up on them. Right then I had the feeling, We're going to be world champions. There Michael Irvin was what the scene was all about.

Mike was going across the middle on a short slant and he didn't get up when he was hit. He didn't get up. That great competitor, the guy who won't take "no" for an answer, the guy with all that will, was laying there compromised.

I got in the ambulance with him. We got his wife Sandy on the cell phone. All of a sudden he started moving. He reached over. I said, Michael, you're moving your hand, you're moving. We got Sandy back and said, Hey, he's moving. He's starting to move. Boy, didn't realize that was it.

Induction day will be like the day you get up when you get an opportunity to be in the Super Bowl. It's a privilege to be there. It's a privilege to be a part of it. But more important than anything, to have the honor to get to be a part of Michael Irvin going into the Hall of Fame, be there, have something to say about him going in there. When I know of all of the people that he's touched and the great things that they can say, for me to get the chance to say those and a few short minutes, it's Super Bowl day for me.

(End of video presentation.)

JERRY JONES: Hey, man, that will fire you up there. What an honor to be here with you, to be right here on this historic ground with these champions, these champions sitting here behind us.

You know, it is unique what can be the makeup of a championship team. A championship team can have a catalyst. They can have a spark, someone that can put a fire in another person's heart.

The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s were champions. They were in three Super Bowls and won them in four years' time. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you tonight that the heartbeat, the heart and the soul of those championship teams, was Michael Irvin. Michael came to Dallas with a self‑proclaimed nickname, the “Playmaker.”

Now, at first many people didn't understand why this young guy would brand himself with such a bold nickname. But we begin to figure it out real, real soon.

When it was third‑and‑long, opposition coaches knew exactly where Troy Aikman was throwing the ball. The defensive backs knew exactly where Aikman was going with the ball. Everybody in the stadium knew where the ball was going, but they couldn't stop it.

Troy Aikman often said the greatest thing about Michael Irvin is you could throw him the ball when he was covered or you could throw him the ball when it was open, and the results were usually the same almost all the time. It was either a completion and most of the time it was for a first down.

Now, when you've got a quarterback that has that kind of confidence in your receiver, you can have some offense. That's how you earn the name “Playmaker,” and that's how you keep it.

His performance always improved as the level of competition increased. He routinely had his best games against Deion Sanders, Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, Aeneas Williams. And his numbers increased as that long season went along and we got closer to the playoffs. From the regular season to the playoffs, from the playoffs to the Super Bowl, that was Michael Irvin's best days.

At the pinnacle of his career in 1995, he had 11 100‑yard receiving games, a mark that is still an NFL record today. But the Dallas Cowboys' offenses really weren't designed for the receiver to get big stats. They really weren't designed for Troy, the quarterback, to really rack 'em up in statistics.

The teams were designed to win championships, and what that meant was take what the defense gave you. Now, with the backdrop of all of that, the fact that one team could produce the NFL's greatest all‑time rushing leader in Emmitt Smith, the fact that last year the first opportunity that he had a chance to be honored with these men, Troy Aikman came into the NFL Hall of Fame.

And the fact tonight that Michael Irvin is going to go in the Hall of Fame, it just shows you the team concept and shows you the balance that was there. The player that epitomized it more than anyone on the team, the player that taught it, the player embellished it, that was Michael Irvin and his leadership.

You can't get to Canton, Ohio without exceptional talent. But athletic ability alone was only a part of Michael's gifts. His hard work is legendary. In two‑a‑days, the grind of all of it. When you'd be on the field in the morning and in the afternoon, someone would look around and find, Where is Michael? He'd be down on the field with pads on in the hot sun getting some more in.

His passion, his competitiveness were really possibly his greatest gifts he shared them with his teammates on a daily bases. He practiced every day with the determination of a rookie that was hanging by a thread to make the team, and that's the way this great player approached it.

Aikman told me yesterday that Michael would never let the team have a bad practice. If there was a lull, he would create something between the defense and the offense. He'd get some stuff going just so that team could practice and get better for what they had to face Sunday.

Maybe that's the quality that separates the good players from the great players, the Hall of Fame players. Or maybe it's just the natural instinct of a man who had 16 brothers and sisters and knew that nothing in life was going to be given to him.

In the locker room, he was a teammate first, a competitor second, and a superstar third. His leadership style not only transcended the cliques in the locker room, but his leadership style on our team and our organization went from the locker room and the equipment room all the way to the boardroom. It permeated it.

I don't know that we'll see again a professional football player with a combination of his strength and his skills as an athlete on the field and his unbelievable people skills. Smart, resourceful, communication, charm, the kind of charisma and tremendous will with the strength to get the respect of the team. He had his faults. But in a unique way, that only Michael Irvin could pull off.

His fallibility by the people who followed him, by the people who were looking at him, his fallibility gave them strength because they knew, too, how fallible they were, and they wanted to see somebody that could go down and come up stronger and try to get better when they got on their feet. That's what Michael Irvin brought to the Dallas Cowboys and his locker room.

He learned his game from his older brothers in Fort Lauderdale. He had a great high school he played for, St. Thomas High School. He became a star at the University of Miami, drafted by Gil Brandt and Tex Schramm. He was nurtured by coach Tom Landry. He was coached in college and embellished when he got to pro football by one of the greatest coaches, Jimmy Johnson.

He spent his entire career in the loving embrace of the Dallas Cowboys. His journey reaches a destination tonight here in Canton, and it was a longer journey than most, with a lot of bumps in the road. He got knocked down for the last time at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. But tonight he'll get up again and he'll take his place among the immortals of this great game.

Michael Irvin, he's a friend. If you're in my shoes, you feel like he's a son. He's an inspirational and natural born leader. He's a loving father and husband. He's a wonderful brother and son. He's a Dallas Cowboy.

And tonight, forever more, he's a member of the professional football Hall of Fame. It's with pride that I present to you Michael Irvin. C'mon up here.

MICHAEL IRVIN: Thank you. Father, I'd like to thank you for allowing us all to travel here safely, thank you in advance for the same in allowing us to travel home.

Father, thank you for the man that you sent me to help me in Bishop T.D. Jakes, my spiritual father. I ask you now to put your arms around my Hall of Fame classmate Gene Hickerson and his family. Father, hold them tight and love them right. In Jesus' name, I pray, amen.

Thank you.

I want to send a special love to all the people in Dallas, Texas, special love to all the Dallas Cowboy fans all over the world. Special love goes to my hometown of South Florida and all the Miami Hurricane fans, St. Thomas Aquinas fans.

I want to send love to every fan everywhere because you hear so often that people say, Oh, these are the guys that built the game. No. It's your hunger and your love for the game, your love for what we do that make this game what it is. I thank you for loving the game like we love it.

Jerry, those were kind words. Thank you. You know, when I first met Jerry he had just purchased the Dallas Cowboys. He had a bit of a concerned look on his face. I said to him, I said, We will have fun and we will win Super Bowls. You see, I knew Jerry had put all he had into purchasing the Cowboys. That's the way I see Jerry. He's a man that's willing to give all he has and all he wants to bring the Cowboy family Super Bowls.

Jerry, I appreciate your commitment to family, the Dallas Cowboy family and your own family. He has a beautiful wife, Jean. I tell her this. I just love her to death. Her spirit exudes beauty. Her mannerisms exude class. She's one of a kind. Jean, I do love you.

They have beautiful kids, daughter Charlotte, son Steven and Jerry, Jr. Each have played a role in my life and I thank all of them.

A heartfelt thank you to the selection committee, especially Rick Gosselin and Charean Williams. Charean is the first woman to have a seat on the selection committee. Charean, congratulations to you.

These gentlemen behind me, these men, they inspired me to become the player that I became. As I spent this week with these gentlemen that I've admired growing up, I kept thinking about how gifted they are. Man, they're gifted to run and cut, gifted to throw and catch, gifted to run through blocks and make great tackles.

And then I met their wives and their families and I realized that it's not only about the gift God gave us, but equally important is the help that God gave us. It's the people that God put in place to support us on our journey. So I will try to put the credit in the right place tonight and share with you my help and my journey.

I thank God for the help of my father Walter Irvin, whom I lost at the age of 17. He was my hero and he loved, I'm telling you, he loved the Dallas Cowboys. I woke up this morning smiling knowing that my father had not be here in the flesh but that he is in heaven watching and celebrating with his all‑time favorite coach, Coach Tom Landry.

Also Tex Schamm, Derrick Shepard and Mark Tuinei. Those guys, we think about them here, we feel them here. They will always be with us.

Before my father made his journey to heaven I sat with him. His final words to me were, Promise me you will take care of your mother. She's a good woman. As you've heard, my mother raised 17 children, most of whom are here tonight. There were challenges. But she would never complain. She always walked around the house and said, God has promised me that my latter days will be better than my former days. My mom and my Aunt Fanny, her oldest sister, they are part of my travel squad now.

As we travel, all they want is a nice room and an open tab on room service. When my workday is done I get to come by their room and we tell stories and we laugh and we have fun. We always end the night with them telling me, Baby, this is what God meant when he said, Our latter days will be better than our former days.

I can't tell you how it makes me feel to know that God uses me to deliver His promise. I love you, mom. I love you, Aunt Fanny.

For better or for worse, those are the vows we take before God in marriage. It's easy to live with the for better, but rarely can you find someone who sticks around and endures the for worse. Sandy, my beautiful wife, I have worked tirelessly, baby, to give you the for better. But I also gave you the for worse, and you didn't deserve it. You didn't deserve it.

But through it all I experienced the depth of your love and I thank God for you. I love the mother that you are, the wife that you are, I love the way that you take care of our family, our daughters Myesha and Chelsea, and our sons Michael and Elijah. I thank you from a place that I can't mention, I can't even express, baby, for keeping our family together. I love you so much.

My football family, as Jerry told you, began at St. Thomas Aquinas High School under the wise tutelage of a great coach named George Smith. George Smith dedicated 37 years to that great program. He's a great man. I thank all the people at St. Thomas for believing in a young man like me.

And then I went on to the University of Miami. I think most of y'all know how I feel about the U. Yeah, the U. You better believe it. After that I was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys where I played and worked with some of the best to ever be around this game. For example, Emmitt Smith. Emmitt Smith is the all‑time leading rusher.

The great thing about that, his rookie year he said to me he was going to become the all‑time leading rusher. I doubted him like I think everybody would have. But what an inspiration to be in a room and see a man set a goal so high and then be persistent, be dedicated, and accomplish that which he set out to accomplish. Emmitt, you're an inspiration to so many.

The third part and the third member The Triplets is Troy Aikman. My quarterback, our leader. Troy Aikman led us to three Super Bowls. When I said "led," I mean led, to three Super Bowls. He's the winningest quarterback in the decade of the '90s. If you talk to him and you ask him what's his most memorable game, he will tell you that '94 NFC Championship game that everybody's talking about.

It's a game we were down by 21 and we lost, but we never gave up. That's the mark of a true leader. All he wants is for each player to give all he has all the time. That's Troy Aikman.

That game is one of my most memorable games for all those reasons, but it had a little something extra for me. We were down 21. Troy came to that huddle with those big blue eyes and he looked up and he said, Hey, I'm coming to you no matter what. Whew, let me tell you. As a wide receiver, that's all I ever wanted to hear. Just come to me no matter what. And he did, he did. He came to me no matter what.

But, Troy, you've always come to me no matter what, and I'm not just talking about on the football field. For that, you have a special place in my heart. You always will no matter what. I love you, Troy. I love you deeply.

As The Triplets, we received most of the press, the credit. But we were surrounded with some great guys, great players, talented guys. Guys like Darren Woodson, Dallas Cowboys all‑time leading tackle. My Cowboy counterpart Jay Novacek, what a great tight end he is. Daryl Johnston, the unsung hero, Moose. Larry Allen and Eric Williams are two of the better linemen, if not the best linemen, to ever play this game. The big fella, Nate Newton. Jim Jeffcoat. And one of the best cornerbacks and the finest athlete I've ever been around, that's Deion Sanders, Prime Time.

So, so many more.

You can't accomplish what we've accomplished with just great players. You also need great coaches. And we had that. We had guys like Norv Turner, Dave Wannstedt, Dave Campo. My position coach, coach Hubbard Alexander, who is my heart. Coach, you took me as a young man out of high school, and I know I gave you a lot of mess through the years. Thank you for being there, Coach. And our head coach, he had always be my head coach, that's Jimmy Johnson.

We worked hard. We had the best, and I'm telling you the very best, and I'm willing to take an argument with anybody on this, strength and conditioning coach in the world. His name is Mike Warsick. He has six Super Bowl rings. Six, people. Twice he has won three Super Bowls in four years, once with us and now with the New England Patriots. So if anybody wants to take an argument, I am a debater. I am here and ready.

Mike Warsick, you are, man, the very best. You put me back together from that knee injury. As we always tell each other when we say good‑bye, MissPaw (phonetic), which means may God hold you till we see each other again.

I also walked on campus at the University of Miami the same day with our PR director, Rich Dalrymple. I know some of you are saying it's fitting that you are tight with the PR director, Michael. But Rich has been a great friend. When I walk in his office now Rich has a picture of us. He has pictures of us at the University of Miami with this nice beautiful black hair, and then he has pictures of us now when he's all gray.

He says to me all the time, You see these gray hairs? I say, Yeah. He says, You gave them to me. I tell him, I say, Well, you see those four championship rings you have? I gave them to you, too.

I have experienced all this game has to offer on the football field, the losing, going 3‑13, even 1‑15. In my second season the career‑threatening knee injury, thinking I would never play this game that I love again. And even in 1999, the career‑ending neck injury. That which football players fear the most.

But I've also had some beautiful victories. We won three Super Bowls in four years. I can't tell you what that feels like. And we did it with guys that we loved to play with and guys that we loved. Folks, I'm telling you, that's the true essence of a football family, and that's exactly what we are ‑ not was ‑ what we are. I love all of those guys that I played with.

Since retiring I have developed a deeper awareness and understanding for this game. First as a fan and then as an analyst. That is why I've learned it's so much more than merely a game. Thanks to ESPN. Thank you, ESPN, for giving me the opportunity to travel to NFL stadiums throughout this country, visiting with fans, and seeing this game from a completely different perspective.

The movie, Remember the Titans, is my favorite movie, staring Denzel Washington. I love the way in this movie the game of football brings those boys together, it unites those boys on that football field. It unites a whole town, black, white, old, young, rich and poor. It happens every year around this time in NFL locker rooms and NFL stadiums. So don't tell me it's just a game.

My favorite day was Monday, September the 25th, 2006. New Orleans, Louisiana, site of the Superdome. I watched our people who had suffered so grievously through Hurricane Katrina fill a stadium hours before a game and stay hours after the game. I witnessed those fans as they looked for each other, hugged one another and just be thankful to be in that stadium.

You see the game flexed its greatest muscle that day: the ability to heal. I experienced a football game that contributed to the healing of a city. So don't tell me it's just a game.

You know the Bible speaks of a healing place. It's called a threshing floor. The threshing floor is where you take your greatest fear and you pray for help from your great God. I want to share something with you today. I have two sons. Michael, he's 10, and Elijah, he's 8. Michael and Elijah, could you guys stand up for me. That's my heart right there. That's my heart. When I am on that threshing floor, I pray. I say, God, I have my struggles and I made some bad decisions, but whatever you do, whatever you do, don't let me mess this up.

I say, Please, help me raise them for some young lady so that they can be a better husband than I. Help me raise them for their kids so that they could be a better father than I. And I tell you guys to always do the right thing so you can be a better role model than dad. I sat right here where you are last year and I watched the Class of 2006: Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Harry Carson, Rayfield Wright, John Madden, and the late great Reggie White represented by his wife Sara White. And I said, Wow, that's what a Hall of Famer is.

Certainly I am not that. I doubted I would ever have the chance to stand before you today. So when I returned home, I spoke with Michael and Elijah . I said, That's how you do it, son. You do it like they did it. Michael asked, he said, Dad, do you ever think we will be there? And I didn't know how to answer that. And it returned me to that threshing floor. This time I was voiceless, but my heart cried out. God, why must I go through so many peaks and valleys?

I wanted to stand in front of my boys and say, Do it like your dad, like any proud dad would want to. Why must I go through so much?

At that moment a voice came over me and said, Look up, get up, and don't ever give up. You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don't ever give up.

Thank you and may God bless you.

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