Posted: Monday February 13, 2006 10:34AM; Updated: Monday February 13, 2006 2:00PM
Well, Christl, who has covered football longer than my 22 years, asked the people he knew and trusted in football, and the answer came back that, yes, Carson was a Hall of Famer. Christl changed his vote. Maybe that's the one vote Carson lacked. I don't know. We don't know for certain who votes which way on these things.
Carson, as you've read, has detached himself from the process over the past few years. He asked the committee not to consider him for the Hall two years ago. When he saw the beat writer who annually presented his case to the Hall voters, Vinny DiTrani of the Bergen Record, Carson asked him not say anything on his behalf. "I begged Vinny -- begged him -- not to say anything,'' Carson told me the other day. "But he said he had to do his job. I begged him some more, but he told me he just couldn't.''
And now? Now that he's in, how does Carson feel about it?
"I feel a lot of different things,'' he said.
Joy is not one of them.
"I am humbled by it,'' he said. "It is bigger than me, really. It is about all the people who helped me get the honor. My coaches along the way. My teammates. All the people who wanted this so badly for me. You realize how important something like this is when you get in and the people who call you are more emotional than you are. John Wooten, who I work with on the Fritz Pollard Alliance, was in tears when he called me. I could hardly understand him. Willie Jeffries, my college coach at South Carolina State. George Martin, my teammate with the Giants. Me? I was numb. I didn't feel anything. I had so far removed myself from the situation that I didn't have any emotion about it. Basically, I'm happy for other people, the people who really wanted this for me.''
"The Hall of Fame will never validate me,'' he said. "I know my name will be in there, but I take greater pride in the fact that my teammates looked at me as someone they could count on. I still remember, and I will remember this for the rest of my life, the Super Bowl against Denver. We had three captains -- me, Phil Simms and George Martin. But when it came time for the coin toss before the game, I started to go out and looked around for those guys. Bill Parcells said to me: 'No. You go. Just you.' And that was about the coolest feeling I've ever had in the world -- going out to midfield for the Super Bowl, as the lone captain. There were nine Denver Broncos out there, and me. Just me. An awesome responsibility. The greatest respect.''
Greater, even, than his bust in Canton. That's why he's such a deserving member of the Class of 2006.
Quote of the Week
"It may take a short while, but we'll get that nastiness of the Raiders back. That's one of the reasons we're going to depend on the great Art Shell to help us get that done.'' -- Raiders managing general partner Al Davis, at the press conference announcing Shell's hiring as the Raiders' 15th coach. Or 14th, depending on whether you count Shell twice. He coached the Raiders from 1989 to 1994.
By the way, the man who spurned the Raiders before they hired Shell was referred to by Davis as "Bernard Petrino.''
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino announced last week that he would stay in the Big East. He may not stay there long, however. There are those who think Petrino might one day be the offensive version of Belichick. That's almost sacrilege to me, but it's out there.
Factoid That May Interest Only Me
The New York Times has an 11-page sports section this morning, at least for their editions in the metropolitan area. Pages 1 through 7 are devoted to the Olympics. Page 8 is the NBA and NASCAR. Page 9 has six photos and a story about the hotel across from Madison Square Garden that houses the dogs for the Westminster Dog Show, which is in New York this week. On the bottom of that page, in a tiny "Sports Briefing'' section, is a six-sentence story on the Pro Bowl.
Six sentences, 53 fewer than the doggie hotel story.
Precisely what it's worth.
Stat of the Week
That smell wafting up from the Bay Area? It's the stench of some really bad football. Football's worst teams over the last three years:
Worst Records Since 2003
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
Made a quick trip to drop a car off to daughter Mary Beth at wind-whipped Colgate in Hamilton, NY, on Friday, and I had the good fortune to catch one of the campus tours that she gives. I highly recommend hers to those thinking of visiting the northeastern schools with their kids. She's chipper and cheery. You'll especially like how she can walk backwards for 75 minutes up the hills and the steps of campus.