NFC West: Ed Sabol

101ESPN St. Louis audio: Miklasz Show

February, 6, 2013
Eight hours in a New Orleans Convention Center ballroom Saturday wasn't enough for Bernie Miklasz and me, so we hung out some more over the phone this week for his 101ESPN St. Louis radio show. Feel free to eavesdrop .

At issue, among other things: Pro Football Hall of Fame voting. Bernie and I were among the selectors meeting Saturday to vote on the 2013 class. We both think former Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams has a very good chance in the future.

Williams was among 10 of the 15 modern-era finalists missing the cut this time. That happens every year. It doesn't mean all 10 were unworthy. Far from it. I'd expect quite a few of them to make their way to Canton eventually.

Williams and fellow NFC West alum Charles Haley made the final 10, often an indication they're headed for enshrinement at some point. Might former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. join them? He's made the final 15 in consecutive years without advancing to the final 10, making it tough to say his candidacy has momentum at present.

Nineteen current Hall of Famers were enshrined as contributors: Bert Bell, Charles Bidwill Sr., Joe Carr, Al Davis, Jim Finks, George Halas, Lamar Hunt, Curly Lambeau, Tim Mara, Wellington Mara, George Preston Marsahll, Hugh Ray, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney, Dan Rooney, Pete Rozelle, Ed Sabol, Tex Schramm and Ralph Wilson Jr.

The 49ers had an NFL-best .633 winning percentage when DeBartolo owned the team from 1977 through 1999. That included .741 from 1981 through 1998. The 49ers won five Super Bowls during that period. They were .511 during the 10 seasons prior to DeBartolo's ownership and .425 in the 10 years after it.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will not be letting Larry Fitzgerald pick their next quarterback. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "You're very aware that we have an open-door policy. We solicit input from players on a lot of things, game plans, plays, travel to the East Coast. Things in training camp. When I was interviewed (in 2007), they had players who were a portion of the interviews. Larry and I talked about a number of things. I've talked to other players as well." In other words, the Cardinals discussed with Fitzgerald the receiver's thoughts on acquiring a quarterback, but the team isn't making Fitzgerald its general manager.

Darren Urban of says it's way too early to say the Cardinals are likely to select a quarterback with the fifth overall choice in the 2011 draft. Urban: "Not with so much uncertainty around the QBs that will be available. Could they wow scouts by the time the draft rolls around? Sure. Maybe there will be a guy who is worth it. There’s no way you draft a QB just to draft a QB unless you feel good about him, however; as the Cards are finding out after the Matt Leinart pick in 2006, taking a QB high means you are committing to that guy as your future -- and if you miss, it puts you in a bad position."

Also from Urban: a look at how the Cardinals put together an offensive game plan, and how they call plays, with special attention to passing-game coordinator Mike Miller. Urban: "Miller was worked into the play calling during games early this season. But his role in developing the call sheet -- part of the process building up to game day -- was long established."

Clare Farnsworth of says ex-Seahawk Howard Green's unlikely play helped turn the Super Bowl in Green Bay's favor. Green was once out of football for three seasons.

Also from Farnsworth: Cortez Kennedy says he's honored to make the final 10 in Hall of Fame voting over the past two seasons. Kennedy: "It’s such an elite group. Dermontti Dawson, he’s a Hall of Fame player. Andre Reed, Tim Brown and all those guys, they are too. You just have to wait your turn. So I’m not upset at all."

Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News says Seahawks assistant Rocky Seto lost a job he accepted at UCLA after posting news about his hiring on his Facebook page. Wolf: "Seto was offered and accepted the job last week. But before it became official, Seto allegedly posted a comment on Facebook that he accepted the job. Sources said that infuriated UCLA and also ignited a fan backlash." Strange happenings. UCLA's reaction seems a little petty if that's all that was involved.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks would not be wise to trade the 25th overall choice in the draft for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. Williams: "No, I wouldn't. You already made a trade for Charlie Whitehurst. I think you try and get a guy through the draft. This team is not one player away. They need talent across the board. If they were San Francisco of Minnesota maybe you make that deal, but this team still needs an infusion of talent."

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune says there was no Hall of Fame snub for Kennedy. McGrath: "The reason Kennedy isn’t scheduled for induction into the Hall of Fame this summer is because there was room for only five new bronze statues, and another two designed from the veterans group. Running back Marshall Faulk and cornerback/return man Deion Sanders were obvious choices as first-time candidates, and can anybody make a case against tight end Shannon Sharpe and defensive end Richard Dent? The other selection from the mainstream pool -- Ed Sabol, the mastermind behind NFL Films -- was logical to the point that it posed a question: How was it possible Sabol had not gained a Hall pass years ago?"

Nick Wagoner of passes along this thought from Rams owner Stan Kroenke regarding Marshall Faulk's recent enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: "I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honor. Marshall Faulk epitomizes what all football players should aspire to in sport and in life. He was a champion on the field and a leader in the community. He represented the St. Louis Rams and our fans in a first-class manner from Day 1. He accomplished things on the field that no one before or since has achieved in the storied history of the National Football League. It was a privilege to watch him play and an even greater honor to know him."

Matt Maiocco of checks in with Jim Harbaugh one month into Harbaugh's tenure as the 49ers' head coach. Harbaugh made an observation after breaking down NFL video. Harbaugh: "There was a pass play that was making its way around the league from Week 4 through 8. Several teams hit it for a big play. It was a bootleg throwback. It was interesting to see. I saw six or seven teams that used it. They saw it from another team and then used it. ... After about Week 10, it made its way through and people were defensing it."

Taylor Price of says Patrick Willis was named top linebacker by the NFL Alumni Association.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang regarding the 49ers' needs. Rang: "In terms of the depth at the positions, quarterback and cornerback are both better than pass-rushing linebackers."

Kennedy HOF finalist; Craig left off

January, 9, 2011
Five first-time finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame pushed San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig off the list this year.

That's a bad sign for his long-term Hall hopes because there's already a backlog of Hall-worthy players. Former St. Louis Cardinals coach Don Coryell also did not make the list of finalists this year after appearing previously.

Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf and Deion Sanders made the list of 17 finalists for the first time. I thought former Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams would make the list. The fact that he did not shows how high the bar for enshrinement has risen.

Seattle Seahawks great Cortez Kennedy is back on the list of 17 this year after making the final 10 last season. I hold the Hall of Fame vote for the Seattle market and will again present Kennedy's case to voters this year. I consider Kennedy to have been the most dominant all-around tackle of the 1990s. No interior defensive lineman dominated against run and pass the way Kennedy did while earning eight Pro Bowl berths from 199o to 2000 (two more than any other defensive tackle earned during that time).

Faulk's inclusion on the list of 17 hardly qualifies as news, and I mean that as a compliment. Very few players in NFL history possessed his specific combination of talents as a runner and receiver.

Bettis also played for the Rams, but he earned his Hall credentials with Pittsburgh. Chris Doleman (49ers) and Richard Dent (49ers) made the list of 17 finalists after playing most of their careers elsewhere.

Former 49ers and Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Charles Haley is back on the list of 17 and will again get strong consideration.

Also on the list of 17: Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Hanburger, Andre Reed, Ed Sabol and Shannon Sharpe.

Settling on just five enshrinees, plus two seniors candidates, is a tough task.