(Paul Tagliabue photo courtesy NFL)
Paul Tagliabue’s explosive Talk of Fame Network interview this week made headlines around the country.
It was featured on ABC News, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, CNN and news sites and radio broadcasts from coast-to-coast. But you can only hear the full interview here on this week’s Talk of Fame Network show.
Tagliabue admitted for the first time having made “mistakes’’ in his handling of the concussion crisis in the NFL during its early days. He also told TOF that when he said the growing issue in 1994 was “pack journalism’’ his remarks were “intemperate’’ and “not helpful.’’
Tagliabue is a finalist for the Hall of Fame for the fourth and likely final time, and his nomination continues to be a contentious debate.
During the interview, Tagliabue defends his 17-year reign as NFL commissioner, arguing he watched over the rapid expansion of the game’s revenue and growth and helped create 17 years of labor peace on the heels of two work stoppages in part by listening to advice given to him on his first day as commissioner from then Los Angeles Raiders’ owner Al Davis.
“Al told me, ‘Gene Upshaw (then the NFLPA president) is the greatest offensive lineman who ever played the game,’’ he said. “Great offensive linemen learn from the first time they put on a helmet that if the defensive player slaps you in the head you slap him back twice as hard … Stop slapping him in the head! Sit down with him and respect him and he’ll respect you. You’ll never get anywhere by slapping him in the head other than to have your own headache because he’ll slap you twice as hard.’ It was very good advice.’’
Joining Tagliabue this week are Hall-of-Fame coaches Joe Gibbs and Tony Dungy, who discuss the candidacies of Joe Jacoby, John Lynch and the entire class. Gibbs also gives you an insider’s perspective from his days as an assistant coach working for Hall of Fame finalist Don Coryell.
“This guy was one of the most unusual people I’ve been around in my life,’’ Gibbs said of Coryell. “He was the most intense person I’ve been around in my life. He got ready (for a game) like a player. He’d find a way to hate our opponent.’’
Gibbs tells stories of Coryell’s inventiveness but also of finding him “sitting in the dark just concentrating.’’
Dungy breaks down Super Bowl LI and explains the special difficulties the coaches and players will feel Sunday night because of the length of not only Super Bowl week and Super Bowl Sunday but also the nearly 45-minute halftime break.
Also coming by to chat is Hall-of-Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams, who weighs in on two HOF candidates who were his teammates, quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Isaac Bruce. He thinks both are Hall-of-Fame worthy and makes their case. Surprisingly, he also defends the controversial candidacy of Terrell Owens, the mercurial receiver who was one of the most productive in football but always seemed to end up in a beef with his quarterback or coaches.
NFL historian John Turney makes his monthly visit as well, breaking down the Hall-of-Fame candidates before making his prediction on who the enshrinees will be.
Turney is joined in that by our Talk of Fame Network hosts, Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge. All three will be in the room and voting the Saturday before the Super Bowl.
You can hear it all around the country on SB Nation radio’s 75 station network, at Sirius 93, on our free podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. You can also go to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com, to hear the entire show.