NFC West: Andre Rison
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Eighteen years before Deion Sanders and MC Hammer would surface as characters in the Michael Crabtree drama, the following scene unfolded at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta:
- The 49ers took a late lead over the Falcons when John Taylor beat Sanders to catch a long touchdown pass from Steve Bono.
- The Falcons won the game with a Hail Mary pass from Billy Joe Tolliver to Michael Haynes with 1 second remaining.
- Falcons coach Jerry Glanville celebrated on the sideline by hugging and screaming with Hammer, who was decked out in violet.
- Brett Favre, a Falcons rookie, celebrated on the field.
I love watching old games. This one featured a few fights. That Falcons' locker room must have been a sight with Sanders, Hammer, Andre Rison and friends.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune looks into Kurt Warner's chances for the Hall of Fame. One voter says Warner won't be in the conversation without a victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Marshall Faulk and Joe Montana as saying Warner should be in the Hall of Fame either way.
Also from Miklasz: Brenda Warner speaks for her husband at the NFL's man of the year news conference.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals general manager Rod Graves, who declines to gloat about the team's success.
Also from Somers: He sizes up Russ Grimm's chances for the Hall of Fame.
More from Somers: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt consults the notes he took while observing other coaches, including Bill Cowher.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com asks Cardinals players about differences between Whisenhunt and former coach Dennis Green. Urban: "Safety Adrian Wilson said too often there were two different messages coming from the coaching staff -- one from Green, and one from the assistants."
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic explains how Cardinals rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made it through the week, which included a short trip home Tuesday.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic follows Rocky Bleier and Mike Ditka on an emotional visit to a veterans hospital. Bleier, the Vietnam veteran and former Steelers fullback, discourages comparisons to former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who died in Afghanistan. Bleier: "I got drafted. Pat chose. There's a big difference."
Ginger Rough of the Arizona Republic looks at the Cardinals' revamped conditioning program.
John Faherty of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals fans in Tampa. They feel outnumbered.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune compares the current Cardinals organization to the Steelers of nearly 40 years ago.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind looks at keys to the game for Arizona.
John Dudley of Cold, Hard Football Facts makes a case for the Cardinals as Super Bowl champs. Ken Whisenhunt has an 8-1 record in postseason as an assistant and head coach.
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders previews Super Bowl XLIII: "The real mystery of the Arizona playoff surge is the improved pass defense."
Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders profiles the Cardinals' Karlos Dansby and others. Farrar: "Given Pittsburgh's reliance on the pass in situations both conventional and unconventional (hint: a lot of third-and-short), don't be surprised if Dansby has the modus operandi for success."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the hiring of Kevin Demoff puts the Rams in position to start negotiating contracts with key players, including Oshiomogho Atogwe and Ron Bartell. Also, Brendan Daly is joining the Rams' coaching staff, probably to oversee the defensive line. Finally, former Rams assistant Jeff Horton is joining former Rams head coach Scott Linehan in Detroit.
The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript of Jimmy Raye's conference call with reporters.
Also from the 49ers: a transcript of Mike Singletary's conference call with reporters.
More from 49ers: links to recent interviews involving team president Jed York.
Niners scout Quentus Cumby picks the Cardinals to beat the Steelers. Cumby: "The first half of the game, I think both teams will be feeling each other out and Pittsburgh may have the upper hand early on. As soon as Arizona realizes that it's just another football game, I think they're going to explode."
Niners assistant Tom Rathman explains why he's rooting for Arizona in the Super Bowl. He doesn't want the Steelers to pass the 49ers in Super Bowl victories.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the hiring of Raye and quarterbacks coach Michael Johnson rounds out the offensive staff.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers highlights from the conference calls with Raye and Singletary.
Also from Maiocco: Raye's philosophy lined up with that of Singletary.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers would like Johnson to eventually succeed the 62-year-old Raye as coordinator.
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers and Raye are the same age. Also: "Raye pointed to his successful 2000 Chiefs team as evidence that he can air it out when called upon. Quarterback Elvis Grbac threw for 4,169 yards and 28 touchdowns that season, while tight end Tony Gonzalez and rece
ivers Andre Rison and Derrick Alexander also had big seasons."
Note: If you see anything from the Seahawks or more stories worth checking out, please share links in the comments. Thanks.