As I was traveling back to NFC South Blog headquarters, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of 27 semifinalists, which includes three players with deep NFC South ties.
Former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp, former Tampa Bay safety John Lynch and former New Orleans and Atlanta kicker Morten Andersen all made the cut. The list will be trimmed to 15 before voters make their decision the day before the Super Bowl.
This is the first year of eligibility for all three players. I think all three will get into the Hall of Fame at some point, but I’m thinking Sapp is the most likely to make it on the first ballot. Say what you want about how he could be charming or rude to the media and wasn’t always nice to fans. The fact is that stuff isn’t part of the criteria for the Hall of Fame. On-field production is all that’s supposed to matter and Sapp was a force in the middle of the line for some of the best defenses in history.
Andersen and Lynch might not get in on the first ballot because it’s not easy for kickers and safeties to get into the Hall of Fame, but I think they’ll get there at some point.
Now, let’s move onto a quick tour of the afternoon headlines from around the division:
Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International airport say they believe one employee was responsible for throwing eggs at the New Orleans Saints’ team bus Wednesday evening. The officials would not identify the employee, but said they will take appropriate action to make sure similar incidents don’t happen in the future.
Coach Ron Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is very doubtful for Sunday’s game at Kansas City. That likely means more playing time for DeAngelo Williams. Carolina’s backfield has been overcrowded all season and I still think Williams has the talent to thrive if he’s getting enough carries.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith were present as former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams testified in the appeals hearing for Vilma’s season-long suspension and Smith’s four-game suspension. It’s unclear what Williams had to say and when former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will rule on the appeals. But I’m not counting on a quick resolution because nothing about the whole bounty saga has been quick.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Chris Low reports that former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden informed the University of Tennessee he’s not interested in its head coaching job.