(Orlando Pace photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)
(Drew Pearson cover photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
The best weekend of playoff football is upon us, and our Hall-of-Fame guys, Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge, are all over it. The divisional round has offered up some of the most compelling games in NFL history, and this week perhaps the most exciting finish of all is vividly recalled by the man who made it so.
All-decade wide receiver Drew Pearson is in the house, a guest on this week’s Talk of Fame Network broadcast, to tell the story of how the “Hail Mary’’ pass was invented. The former Dallas Cowboys’ standout should know since he was on the receiving end of it in a 17-14 divisional round win over the Minnesota Vikings in 1975.
“Only one pass was thrown to me until the final drive,’’ Pearson recalled of that blustery day in Minnesota. “(Vikings’ cornerback) Nate Wright and I were neck and neck. The ball was underthrown. The ball was (caught) on my elbow and hip. I didn’t use my hands on the Hail Mary!’’
After the game, Cowboys’ quarterback Roger Staubach said that last-second catch came after he slung the ball deep “and said a Hail Mary.’’ If Pearson doesn’t make that catch maybe the Hail Mary pass never enters the lexicon of pro football.
But he did, and history was made.
Speaking of history, the guys also sit down with Hall-of-Fame finalist Orlando Pace, the great left tackle of the St. Louis Rams, to discuss his candidacy as well as that of the quarterback he protected, Kurt Warner. Both are finalists this year, but when Warner first took over for Trent Green on Aug. 28, 1999 after Green went down with a knee injury, Pace admits he didn’t have an inkling how things would end for him and Warner.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought he’d be NFL MVP (as Warner became in that Super Bowl season),’’ Pace said. “We knew Kurt was a good athlete, but he was bagging groceries two years before that.’’
Pace, on the other hand, was a former overall No. 1 pick who lived up to every expectation but this last one: A place in Canton. If he gets there next month, he admits, “It would be like the icing on top of a cake. Me being from Ohio I got to visit the Hall of Fame as a kid. You always dream about being a Hall of Famer.’’
The guys also hear about that dream from Brett Favre, Edgerrin James and Tony Dungy, who are also all Hall of Fame finalists, and then give you their long shots and locks among the candidates. They also have Round 2 of the ongoing debate between Clark and Ron over Terrell Owens’ chances.
Memory lane is always a big part of the Talk of Fame Network because it’s what reminds us of how the game was built. In that spirit Rick, Ron and Clark pick their favorite divisional playoff games and include one end zone knockout that came AFTER the game was decided.
In this week’s “State Your Case,” Rick makes the argument for long-forgotten Houston Oilers’ wide receiver Charlie Hennigan, who set records in the AFL that lasted for over 30 years. Then he puts on his lab coat and emerges as our “Dr. Data,” arguing that the Browns, 49ers and Dolphins made big mistakes hiring offensive-minded head coaches to turn their struggling franchises around.
Ron’s “Borges or Bogus’’ segment puts the blame for the latest Bengals’ playoff meltdown not on linebacker Vontaze Burfict or cornerback Adam Jones. He doesn’t even lay it at the feet of head coach Marvin Lewis, who became the first coach in NFL history to lose his first seven playoff appearances. Borges finds what’s bogus about the Bengals is the hiring practices of owner Mike Brown, who continues to import troublemakers and then act surprised when they get his team in trouble.
You can hear all that and much more, including the weekly two-minute drill, on over 90 radio stations around the country as well as on the iTunes podcast, the TuneIn Radio app or by simply going to talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the helmet microphone.