Posted: Monday February 4, 2008 7:36AM; Updated: Thursday February 7, 2008 12:53PM
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Super Bowl XLII:
a. Giants-Pats, eight quarters this year: New York 52, New England 52.
b. I simply do not believe David Tyree caught that ball.
c. Len Pasquarelli, the ESPN.com football writer extraordinaire, gave incredible meaning to "playing hurt" this weekend. I noticed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting Saturday that Lenny seemed ill, and he was unusually quiet. He left the voting, wrote a story for his Web site on the latest failed bid to get Paul Tagliabue elected, then checked into a local hospital ... to find that he had five blocked arteries. He had quintuple bypass surgery Sunday. That is one tough dude. Your peers really admire you, Len. Get well soon.
d. Keep in mind that I never watch this game on TV, so the ad thing is new to me. But the winner, easily, was the Bridgestone Tire commercial with the screaming squirrel. That's the kind of insight you read this column for, isn't it?
e. I have a feeling we're all about to get to know former Patriots video employee Matt Walsh very well.
f. I love the idea of the NFL re-jiggering the playoff format to encourage teams to play hard in weeks 16 and 17. Roger Goodell mentioned it Friday, and I didn't meet a soul all weekend who didn't say, "Good idea."
g. If I'm Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick, I enter the draft thinking we like our tackles but we don't love them. The Pats could be more athletic at both left and right tackle, and there were plenty of times Sunday when the far-quicker Giants defensive linemen exposed the lateral weakness of Matt Light and Nick Kaczur.
h. I'm not saying Light and Kaczur shouldn't start next year. I am saying the Patriots use rookies to challenge vets for playing time every year, and a quicker tackle is someone New England needs to insert in the mix.
i. Belichick made a great call to replay-challenge Chase Blackburn not getting out of bounds on the third-quarter Patriots' punt, leading to a New England first down. It didn't lead to points, but it was an unconventional challenge many coaches would never have considered.
j. Eli Manning this morning: "I've got to become a better quarterback and cut down on my mistakes." That's the kind of attitude you want in your young quarterback.
k. Mike Carey's crew did a good and very unobtrusive job.
l. Strange to see Tiki Barber interviewing Eli Manning on the Today show this morning. Eli, who has the fine southern manners taught him by Olivia and Archie Manning, was quite polite.
2. I think the last laugh is yours, Ernie Accorsi.
3. I think I'd like to take a minute to explain the Hall of Fame process, because I've heard some misconceptions about the reconfigured way the class was selected this year. We were supposed to be a committee of 44 this year, up from 40 last year, as the Hall began an effort to phase in more voters and eventually get the number of selectors to 50; but because of personal issues with several voters, we had 40 in the room Saturday in downtown Phoenix. We entered the room with 17 candidates -- 15 modern-era candidates and two nominated by the Seniors Committee of the Hall selectors. Our first job is to listen to presentations on the Seniors guys -- in this case former Chicago Cardinal Marshall Goldberg and former Chief Emmitt Thomas. Then we vote yay or nay on those two men. After that, we hear the presentations on the 15 modern finalists. One selector presents the case for a candidate, and an open discussion follows. Some of the discussions are short. Some (Paul Tagliabue's lasted 43 minutes, after last year's 52-minute bloodletting) are long. When those discussions are over, each selector takes a ballot with the 15 modern-era men and votes for 10. The votes are tallied, and the final 10 are announced. We're then asked if there is any new discussion on any of the 10 finalists. Then we're asked to whittle our vote from 10 to five, using the same private ballot method. The votes are tallied again, and the five finalists are announced in the room. Then we vote yay or nay on the five finalists by individual ballot. Whoever gets 80 percent of the vote from the seven finalists -- the two senior candidates and the five modern-era men -- comprises the class. We find out when you do -- at a press conference the same day the vote is taken (actually about 55 minutes after our meeting ended Saturday). Now, I heard a lot of people say, "Wow. Cris Carter didn't get to the final five. That's an upset." Maybe, but historically, not really. Lots of first-year candidates, regardless of their resumes, struggle to make it. I firmly disagree with the "let's make him wait his turn" philosophy, because I believe Carter is a historically better wide receiver than Art Monk, but I am only one of 40 voters. My feeling, and it's one I've shared with my fellow selectors, is that we should ask ourselves every year, "Who are the best candidates this year?" If Carter's better than Monk, we shouldn't be concerned about taking a guy who's been close so many years and finally putting him over the top. Finally, if you get to the final five, chances are you're going to make the Hall anyway, because you've already gotten a majority of voters to support you. Any questions?