Hall-of-Fame general manager Bill Polian joined the Talk of Fame Network this week to debate the 2018 class of finalists and said he agreed with those who feel Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis is the one “sure thing’’ among the 15 finalists -- choosing him over Brian Urlacher who, like Lewis, was an all-decade linebacker.
“Although both are deserving, I’m not sure I’d put Brian Urlacher in the same class with Ray Lewis,’’ Polian said of the two first-time finalists.
But Lewis wasn’t the only name on the list Polian felt strongly about. With five offensive linemen as finalists, there should be a spirited debate among voters --- but there’s no doubt whom Polian favors.
“I firmly believe Tony Boselli was the best offensive lineman in the AFC when he played,’’ Polian told the Talk of Fame Network. “We got past the short career last year … if you want to be consistent.’’
Polian was referring to the election of Broncos' running back Terrell Davis and Seattle Seahawks’ safety Kenny Easley. Both had their careers cut short due to injury, with Davis really having only three significant seasons and Easley seven. Polian conceded this may prove to be a problem for Hall voters going forward but, “it’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle.’’
What’s become just as hard is to put instant replay into proper usage, according to former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira. Pereira, who now works for FOX Sports as a commentator on rules and officiating, has been heavily critical this season both of a number of controversial calls and on the league’s central office, which now makes the final decision on all replays.
Pereira said he felt one reason for the breakdown between how some feel replay should be used and the feeling the league office has gone too far is that league's head of officials, Al Riveron, lacks the experience with replay to not at times over step his bounds.
“The system was designed for someone else to be sitting in that seat in New York,’’ Pereira explained.
That someone was Dean Blandino, who replaced Pereira as head of officiating and is considered an expert on the use – and limits – of replay. But Blandino this year unexpectedly left the NFL to join Periera as part of the FOX broadcast team of NFL and college games, leaving Riveron in his first year as head of officials to make the final call on replay.
In Pereira’s opinion, too often it was the wrong one. So much so he’s begun to question the use of the replay system.
“Is the system broken?’’ Pereira asked. “I think it is. The longer I’ve been away from the (league) office the more frustrated I get. Some of the mistakes made there’s no excuse for.’’
Also joining the Talk of Fame Network broadcast is Hall-of-Fame voter Sam Kouvaris of WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, with Kouvaris discussing the chances of the Jaguars to advance to the conference championship game and Bosselli making it to Canton.
There’s plenty more talk and tidbits on this week’s show. To hear it all tune into SB Nation radio network or download the free podcast on iTunes or the TuneIn app. The show can also be heard at any time by going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the helmet icon.