By any means necessary
Coaches resort to famous guests to motivate their teams
Updated: Friday January 26, 2001 8:45 PM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- John Elway as a dinner guest. Jim Brown and Mike Singletary observing practice.
It's time to pull out the big guns at the Super Bowl.
Not that Hall of Famers Brown and Singletary are going to suit up or Elway, a likely enshrinee, is going to call signals. The coaches are using them as motivational tools.
And why not? Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick even brought in Hank Aaron to provide some inspiration.
"As we've done all year long, I've tried to put certain individuals in front of my players," Billick said Friday, the final day of practices for Sunday's NFL title game against the New York Giants. "Individuals that represent a number of different things, not the least of which is the passion and the accountability I've talked to them so much about.
Aaron used to watch games from Cleveland Stadium's Dawg Pound and remained loyal to the team when it moved to Baltimore in 1996.
"We had Mike Singletary in, the steely-eyed focus and passion that he represents for the game.
"Today, Jim Brown is coming out. Jim spoke to us during training camp. I've been around these players a while and have put a number of people in front of them, but I've never seen them respond to everybody, with eyes riveted on somebody, as they did Jim Brown."
Although the Giants' guest at Friday's practice, former quarterback Jeff Hostetler, doesn't carry as impressive a resume, he did lead the franchise to its 1991 Super Bowl triumph. Hostetler threw some passes as the team loosened up before practice.
"That was great," Fassel said. "That was the highlight. It was good to see him back out here. The last time the Giants won the Super Bowl, he was right here with them."
Fassel joined the Giants just a few weeks after that victory. He moved from quarterbacks coach for the 1991 season to offensive coordinator in 1992, then was hired by the Broncos. There, he worked with Elway, whom he also had coached at Stanford.
By the time Elway led Denver to the Super Bowl title in 1998, Fassel was the head coach in New York.
Fassell was surprised at a dinner Thursday night when Elway showed up.
"John and I were sitting there, having dinner," Fassel recalled, "and he said, 'It will hit you when you walk out of the tunnel, where you are and what's going on.'
"He gave me some advice. We talked about the game and a lot of things. He said, 'No matter what you've done in your life, this will be indelibly in your mind and you will have a tremendous amount of feelings and emotions come out.'"
The emotions came out for commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the very end of his State of the NFL address. Asked about a radio report that 21 percent of the league's players have criminal records, he took the offensive.
"I do know that most statements that have been made about criminal records in the NFL have been nonsensical and stupid," Tagliabue said. "Including the so-called statistical statements.
"What I do know for a fact is that we track 2,500 players that go to training camp every year, plus every other player who has been with the league in the preceding 18 months. We track 3,000 to 4,000 players every year in terms of criminal misconduct.
"And this year, tracking almost 4,000 players, we have had 26 investigations -- not offenses, investigations -- and we've had 11 convictions. And most of those convictions, putting aside the Rae Carruth case, were minor offenses.
"If the rest of society can do as well as we do in the NFL, America's crime problem would be well addressed."