Five new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were elected Saturday with a couple of mild surprises and more disappointment for one longtime finalists in particular.
First, “the chosen few” were selected by the Hall of Fame voters Saturday afternoon prior to Super Bowl 54 in Miami and they are: first-time nominee safety Troy Polamalu (above) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, fellow safety Steve Atwater from the Denver Broncos, former offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson from the Vikings and the Seahawks, former Rams great Wide Receiver Isaac Bruce and former Colts and University of Miami star, Edgerrin James.
The selections of Atwater and Bruce were after each has been eligible for over a decade. Hutchinson beat out fellow lineman Alan Faneca along former Jaguars great Tony Boselli, who had been a finalist for the fourth straight year.
Bruce who played High School ball at Ft. Lauderdale Dillard, had eight 1,000+ yard receiving seasons and helped the St. Louis Rams win the 1999 Super Bowl catching the the game winning bomb TD pass from fellow Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner.
The biggest snub continues to be former Buccaneers and Broncos safety, John Lynch. Lynch was a finalist for the seventh consecutive year without being selected, despite this year having every bit the credentials that Atwater has.
He was a nine-time Pro Bowl safety, a two-time first-team All-Pro, and a two-time second-team All-Pro.
Lynch also is a member of two different “Ring of honors” for the Buccaneers and the Broncos.
Lynch actually finished his career with the Broncos, where he made the Pro Bowl all four seasons in Denver. That’s in addition to what he did in Tampa Bay to help change the culture of the franchise and helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002
Atwater was a seven time Pro Bowler and was part of two Bronco Super Bowl wins.
Dolphins star linebacker Zach Thomas was also denied in his first year, as one of the 15 finalists.
The occasion is especially sweet for James, as he is an Immokalee High School product, who starred for the U in the late 1990s and was a former first-round pick of the Colts. James was part of the Colts become an AFC Powerhouse in the early 2000s with Peyton Manning at the helm and rushed for 1,100 yards or more seven times.
Manning is eligible for the Hall of Fame next season and will be an obvious first time choice 52 weeks from now.
Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?
For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.
First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.
That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.
The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.
Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.
And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001. That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.
However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.
Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.
At least, that’s what we think.
Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener
Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.
Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.
The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.
However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.
Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.
Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.
Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.
The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.
Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.
The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.
The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.
However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.
And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.