NFL Nation: Bobby Mitchell
Barney has been one of Reed's biggest supporters for enshrinement in Canton.
Reed was the only wide receiver to make the cut from 15 to 10 finalists Saturday, but the Buffalo Bills star wasn't among the five players put to a final vote.
"I try to keep him encouraged," Barney told me. "I'm going to call Dre as soon as I get off the phone with you to tell him not to give up hope."
Barney was a member of the 1992 induction class after a brilliant career as a cornerback and kick returner for the Detroit Lions. He served a similar pick-me-up role for teammate Charlie Sanders, who finally made it in 2007 as a senior nominee.
There are multiple reasons for Reed to remain optimistic. He has been a finalist five times. Pro Football Hall of Fame researcher Saleem Choudhry calculated 83 percent of all finalists have eventually been inducted. But subtract the 10 candidates from this year's ballot (many of whom will get in) and the success rate improves to 94 percent.
"When you get on that finals list, it's like going to church," Barney said. "You have no idea who might shout."
Also in Reed's favor is that for the second year in a row he went farther in the process than receivers Tim Brown and Cris Carter. That suggests Reed will be the next receiver to get inducted.
Barney compared Reed to Paul Warfield, Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell as a complete receiver.
"These guys were not only speed guys, but they ran precise routes and they were disciplined in their training," Barney said. "I thought Dre was a wonderful receiver, not only with the ball, but he was a tremendous blocker.
"Dre certainly has the numbers, the years, the service."
Earlier in the week, Sports Faith International made him one of four inductees to the Sports Faith Hall of Fame, joining Brian Piccolo, Gale Sayers, Dominoes Pizza founder and former Detroit Tigers owner Tom Monaghan and John Gagliardi, college football's all-time leader in coaching victories.
Bidwill was named Thursday as winner of the Fritz Pollard Alliance's Paul "Tank" Younger Award for promoting "diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs" of NFL teams.
Past winners include Dan Rooney, Rick Smith, Ozzie Newsome, James Harris, Bill Walsh, Tony Dungy, Frank Gilliam and Bobby Mitchell.
"When you look back over the years, going back to his time in St. Louis, Mr. Bidwill has a long history of hiring minorities to administrative and authoritative positions," Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten said in a news release. "He has really helped level the playing field and that is what this award is all about."
The Fritz Pollard Alliance plans to present the award to Bidwill at the NFL combine Friday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Now we know why the 49ers weren't knee deep in the trade talk for Jay Cutler. They apparently wanted to experience meaningful participation in the next two drafts.
Quarterbacks are important, no question, and the 49ers haven't had a dynamic one for too long. But the price Chicago paid for Cutler -- 2009 first- and third-round choices, plus a 2010 first-round choice and quarterback Kyle Orton -- carries serious sticker shock. The Bears also picked up the 2009 fifth-round choice Seattle had sent to Denver in the Keary Colbert trade, but that qualifies as a minor throw-in.
Assuming the 49ers had the option, would they have been wise to pay that kind of ransom for Cutler? The Broncos acquired the 18th and 84th overall choices in the 2009 draft as part of the deal. Joe Flacco was the 18th player chosen in 2008. Art Monk was the 18th overall choice in 1980. Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell was the 84th player chosen -- in 1958.
Most of the players chosen in those spots don't jump out as perennial Pro Bowl types. The Bears also went into the deal with an edge. They had picked up a third-round compensatory selection, 99th overall, so they felt better about trading No. 84.
The 49ers hold the 10th, 43rd and 74th choices in the first three rounds this year. Those choices are considerably more valuable than the ones Chicago had to offer.