Thursday, August 13, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Hall of Fame
Don’t be fooled by the less than sellout crowd at the annual Hall of Fame Game which was played at Canton, Ohio, on Sunday evening. The entire world is still hungry for football. Let’s just say the other fans who didn’t join the actual 23,000 attendees were playing golf.
The Hall of Fame Game is the method by which the NFL announces it preseason schedule. Normally, and usually, it pits a team from each of the major conferences (AFC and NFC) against each other. However, since the golden anniversary of the AFL is being celebrated this year, the league felt it only appropriate to select both teams from the old AFL.
The Buffalo Bills (the eighth team to join the new “Foolish Club”) was formed in 1959 after Lamar Hunt called Ralph Wilson Jr. and asked him to keep the new league from having an uneven number. Wilson agreed and he still owns the franchise. Their opponents would be the old Houston Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans.
Another really valid reason for anyone to watch the Hall of Fame Game is to become acquainted with the new inductees. The selection process is a long and drawn out one and it does not please everyone; however, the chances of changes being made are slim and none. For someone who has followed football for a long while, the revelation of the honorees in any given year can have a chilling effect and at the same time disappointing. Chilling when one remembers the on-field exploits of a Bobby Hayes. Hayes, who spent 11 years as a flanker for the Dallas Cowboys, was electrifying each time he caught the ball. He picked up a few nicknames, “World’s Fastest Human” for winning two gold medals in the Olympics, “Bullet Bob” for his lightning speed coming out of the backfield, and “One Step Hayes.” The last one was tagged on him by his defenders. If Hayes got one step on you after catching the ball, you could go to the bench.
Hayes died in 2002, short of his 60th birthday. His son, Bob Hayes Jr., spoke for him at the awards ceremony. He related that his father always wondered why the Hall of Fame recognition took so long.
Hayes’ induction was long but not as long as the one for Ralph Wilson. It took Wilson 50 years to make it. And he seemed genuinely surprised.
The underlying interest in this game was to see if Ralph Wilson had made a mistake in hiring T.O. for one season. Owens was signed to a one-year contract for $6.5 million. Wilson stated if T.O. is really a “bad guy” it won’t take long to find out. And if he is a “good guy,” he can help us. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs in almost a decade.
The Titans won the game 21-18. One would think this is going to be a boring affair, what with the draft list being spread all over the field, but that was not the case. This was a good contest with the team with the best record (Titans, 13-3) last year versus a hungry hopeful.
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