Thursday, August 12, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
Each year at this time the NFL’s pre-season gets a major building block, commonly known as the Hall of Fame Game. The show starts early in the week as former players who have been tabbed to travel to Canton, Ohio, to pick up the gold jacket (the golden fleece pro football) and have a flurry of pictures, both still and motion, taken with their bust which will add luster beyond those already enshrined there.
This event always takes center stage before the pro exhibition season begins, but one would be hard pressed to make the participants believe this game is only an exhibition. Teams and coaches, and owners, know that true football fans everywhere are going to be tuned in to use this first “offering” as some sort of measuring stick of the league’s teams’ readiness for the upcoming season.
This weekend, as noteworthy as it is, has competition. This year it ranged from a 16-team rugby tournament in Memphis to Tiger Woods suffering another flameout, this time at the Bridgestone. Woods stood a chance of losing his number one status to Phil Mickelson (I honestly don’t know how this one turned out, folks!). And rugby, a game which shares the “football” mantra, is sporting a resurgence because it is going to be an Olympic sport in the 2012 games. Rugby, generally big on the continents across the big waters, was an Olympic sport in the 1920 and 1924 games. Would you believe the United States won both of those championships?
Anyway back to the main thrust of this article. Preceding the Sunday game which featured the Cincinnati Bengals against America’s team (the Dallas Cowboys, as if you didn’t know), there was the cloaking of the 2010 class of inductees into the Hall. The impressive number of seven was led by none other than Mississippi’s own Jerry Rice whose records, because of their enormity, might never be broken. The other six were all time rushing leader Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. Jackson is the first New Orleans Saint to enter the Hall after a wait which encompassed over three decades. At 73, LeBeau is still active as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The interviews with these inductees conducted during the game were priceless.
Adding another dimension to this game was the Bengals’ acquisition of T.O. (Terrell Owens). Cincy signed T.O. to a one-year deal for $2 million with a number of incentives (six, I think), each worth $335,000. This game would be the first time the receiver would face his old team since they parted company. The Bengals picked up the controversial player when no other team had approached him. T.O. is not getting any younger and he is not without skills.
The Bengals didn’t do too bad last year, going 10-6 and not losing a game in their division. Is Owens to be their catalyst?
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