Mailbag: Favre has a message for Strahan and my views on texting
Over the phone from Mississippi, Brett Favre had a message for Michael Strahan this morning.
"If you see him,'' Favre said, "tell him, 'Congratulations, great career ...' and tell him he was one hell of a player.''
Favre and Strahan, of course, will forever linked by the sack that broke the NFL single-season record in the final game of the 2001 season. Favre ran to the line of scrimmage, either dove at Strahan's feet -- which appeared almost certainly to be what happened -- or slipped. Favre claimed then, and still says now, that he did not take a dive. This morning, when he woke up, he saw the sack replayed on TV.
"I just laugh at it,'' he said. "I don't even think about it. There are so many plays in that season, and in his career, that people can focus on, and if they focus on that ... Shoot, people can have their own opinion. I'm glad he has the personality, which I do too, to be able to say, 'So what?' ''
Favre on Strahan's announcement:
"I was a little bit shocked. I guess the timing is good, after winning a Super Bowl. I hate to say it in comparison to me, but he's still got a lot left. When you played that team, it's amazing a 15-year vet is the guy you have to be most concerned with taking out of the game. That's the way it was with us this year. And that's what offenses attempted to do with him, I always thought.
"I mean no disrespect, but I think his personality and charisma, in some ways, gives people a false impression of the type of player he is. He's so likeable and polite and well-spoken and funny -- he's not the [Lawrence Taylor] type -- that you almost lose sight of how tough and ferocious he is. He doesn't really fit the mean defensive-end, Deacon Jones-type guy. Tremendous player, good friend. I hate to see him go. He went out with a ring. Pretty awesome.''
One note before I get to your e-mails. I meant in my column yesterday to give you some ideas for Father's Day books for that special dad in your life. Then I gave Jason Peter's book all the attention at the top, and realized, "How can I tell people to buy the book? It doesn't come out 'til July 8?'' So anyway, I never got to my other book suggestions.
One, if you're a Steeler fan, is Ruanaidh: The Story of Art Rooney and His Clan, by Art Rooney Jr., the son of the late Art Rooney, with Roy McHugh. (The name Ruanaidh' is Gaelic for Rooney.) I've found over the years that Steeler fans are among the most intense readers and collectors of good stories about their beloved team, and this book is overflowing with those stories.
Of particular interest is the beginning of the Chuck Noll Era, when the Steelers stopped being bums and began one of the greatest decades any pro football team has ever had. The internal meetings are recounted in great detail by Rooney Jr., who was there as the personnel director. Rooney Jr. and Noll forged an alliance that helped make the Steelers the first team to mine for talent at the historically black colleges and lesser colleges often ignored at that time by the NFL.
This is the kind of insight you will get from this book: Chuck Noll was not sold on Terry Bradshaw following his senior year at Louisiana Tech, not even after a stellar performance in the Senior Bowl. He worried about his smarts, the level of college competition, his ability to run a pro offense. All legitimate concerns. A scout was dispatched to Shreveport to convince Bradshaw to take an IQ test -- 25 math questions, 25 verbal and vocabulary. Good thing for Bradshaw and the Steelers -- he passed with flying colors.
Then, just before the draft, the Atlanta Falcons offered Art Rooney Sr. a treasure trove of players and picks for the first overall pick, owned by Pittsburgh. The old man thought about it, and Rooney Jr. was worried he'd take it. Then son told father: If the Falcons are so interested in the pick, tell them we want their best defensive player, end Claude Humphrey. The old man asked the Falcons for him, and they turned him down.
At the time, Noll had the final say in the draft room, and Rooney Jr. worried he'd take a different player than Bradshaw. He urged his father to make a stand for Bradshaw, and the day before the draft, The Chief, who didn't like to stomp his feet and issue orders -- it just wasn't his way -- convened a meeting of the scouts and coaches and front-office personnel and issued this proclamation: "I've given this draft a lot of thought. Here's what we are going to do with our first choice: We are taking Terry Bradshaw. And we are NOT going to trade him.''
This is the kind of stuff, if you're a Steelerphile, you'll really eat up.
Now onto your e-mail:
STRAHAN AND THE HALL: From Dave McMilan, of Keysville, Va.: "On the radio this morning, the hosts were talking about the possibility of Strahan, Brett Favre, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Larry Allen and Junior Seau all being on the same Hall of Fame ballot in 2012. With the maximum number of non-veteran inductees reduced to five, which of these players doesn't make it on the first ballot?''
Depends on who the holdovers are from previous years. Other than the first year of the Hall of Fame -- when, obviously, all candidates were first-timers -- the maximum number of first-time eligible players who made it has been three. That has happened seven times; the last time was 2006, when Troy Aikman, Warren Moon and Reggie White went in on the first ballot. So I doubt five will make it in 2012.
If I had to guess right now, with the list you gave me (which presumes that Seau is a goner, and I'm not sure that's true), I would say, in order, I'd rank the six guys this way: Favre, Ogden, Seau, Strahan, Sapp, Allen. And I think all will get in eventually.