Tony Gonzalez and Richard Seymour will be as nervous Saturday as if they were playing in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday. That’s because Saturday is Super Bowl day for the 18 candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who will be debated and voted on by the 48-person Hall of Fame Committee.
This week Talk of Fame Network’s Hall of Fame voters – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – visited with Gonzalez and Seymour to get their thoughts on their chances, their nerves and what it would mean to slip into the Hall’s gold jacket.
“I guess I’m a little nervous,’’ admitted Gonzalez, who is a finalist in his first year of eligibility after 14 Pro Bowl and 10 All-Pro seasons as the most prolific pass catching tight end in NFL history. “It’s like you approach a big football game but you can’t do anything about it. The hay is in the barn.’’
Whether Gonzalez ends up in Canton remains to be seen but he admits being a first-ballot selection would mean something special to him.
“I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t,’’ Gonzalez said. “That means there was no question. I don’t think it makes me any better but I’d take a little pride in it.’’
Gonzalez recalls when he led the league in dropped passes early in his career and had to make a serious attitude adjustment. Pressing too hard to be great, Gonzalez tells Talk of Fame Network how deciding to “be loose’’ tightened up his game.
He also argues that had he chosen his first love – basketball – over pro football he would have made it as a 6-5 power forward. And he tells our listeners which tight ends were the ones he idolized as a kid and watched as a young pro.
Seymour is one of two former New England Patriots on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. Seymour joins cornerback Ty Law, who is a finalist for the third time. While Law has grown used to the anxious moments to come on Saturday, Seymour is knew to it so he’s trying to keep his expectations tempered while knowing butterflies will be soaring inside him as he waits on Saturday.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor to be considered among the greats who played,’’ Seymour said. “I’m sure the voters are overwhelmed with so much to consider.’’
Seymour is the only defensive lineman on this year’s ballot, which could give him an edge. The fact that the Patriots dynasty he and Law began in 2001 won three Super Bowls in four years and has now appeared in nine over the past 18 yet has not had a single player from those teams named to the Hall also may give them an edge.
Speaking of “edge,’’ Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay also sat down with our Talk of Fame guys to discuss the Hall candidacy of Edgerrin James, a running back Irsay prized so much that even after having been forced to lose him because of salary cap concerns he awarded him a Super Bowl XLI even though James was playing in Arizona.
“This is a simple case,’’ Irsay tells Talk of Fame’s listeners. “In his first two years Edge had over 3200 yards. Only Erick Dickerson ever did that. Incredible. He has 5,000 more rushing yards than Terrell Davis. He’s 13th all-time (in rushing yards). With him in the backfield, everything changed for Peyton (Manning). I know what he meant to the “horseshoe.’’
Irsay also tells the story of how the Colts came to draft James even after then Saints’ coach Mike Ditka was willing to offer them his entire draft to insure he’d be able to take Ricky Williams. In the end, the Colts rejected the deal and took James with the first pick, ahead of the Heisman Trophy winning Williams. Jim Irsay gives you the inside scoop how that happened and why Edgerrin James belongs in the Hall of Fame.
There’s all that plus our weekly Hall of Fame debates between Ron, Rick and Clark, who will all be inside the voting room on Saturday. Only they can give you the insider’s view of what might happen on Hall of Fame Saturday and why.
To hear it all tune into your local SB Nation radio station or download our free podcast at iTunes, with the TuneIn app or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also hear the show any time on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.