Hall of Famers critique new coaches


POSTED: Saturday, February 07, 2009

Bruce Smith and Rod Woodson officially joined the what-happened-to-the-good-old-days crowd yesterday. The new Hall of Famers, along with classmate Randall McDaniel, spoke to a media gathering of mostly photographers and well-wishers yesterday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes and Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, both deceased, and 90-year-old Bills owner Ralph Wilson were also honored. Wilson did not make the trip to Hawaii. All six will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, this summer.

Smith and Woodson were mostly up-beat in their speeches, but both also decried changes in the game. Specifically, about coaching.

Smith said too many of today's coaches didn't play football at a high level, and that coaches of his era understood better what the players go through.

“;They knew that the difference was being able to maintain technique while exhausted,”; the Buffalo Bills defensive end said.

Woodson, who made his mark as a Steelers defensive back, lauded Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. But in general, he feels the same way as Smith.

“;I believe teaching is a lost art in the National Football League,”; Woodson said.

All three players were extremely excited about getting the Hall of Fame call last week.

“;It felt like draft day all over again for me,”; said McDaniel, the Minnesota Vikings guard who was a vital cog of one of the most sack-proof offensive lines in NFL history.


All in the Family

At the conclusion of yesterday's AFC practice, two-time Pro Bowl veteran Archie Manning joined his son, Peyton, in the locker room to plan the days' events. It was a role-reversal for the father and son, when back in the 1978-79 seasons, it was a young Peyton who would wait for his father to finish practice.

With Peyton preparing to play in his ninth Pro Bowl, and brother, Eli, a backup for the NFC getting ready for his all-star game debut, the elder Manning couldn't help beaming with pride.

“;We really feel blessed,”; Archie said. “;I know they're both honored to be here, and we're very proud of them. We're proud of Peyton for coming here numerous times, and we're very excited for Eli. I can remember what it's like for your first time. There's a lot of first-time guys. It's a great honor, and a great week. We feel very fortunate.”;

What does a family of NFL quarterbacks do when in Hawaii?

“;We've had dinner together, and sat around and visited,”; Archie said. “;We don't get everybody together very often. It's just fun to hang out.”;


Tight shirts

The AFC and NFC put on its official Pro Bowl jerseys for the first time yesterday since it was also photo day.

When the AFC returned to its locker room after practice to change, many players had a hard time taking the “;skin-tight”; jerseys off as described by Baltimore's Terrell Suggs.

Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall had half his jersey off before getting it caught around his shoulder pads.

“;Hey, can someone help me with this,”; he begged from under his jersey as he scoured the locker room looking for help.

Eventually, he made it out safely.


AFC's secret defense

If the AFC was practicing plays it plans to use in tomorrow's game, fans will see players in unique situations.

During one play of yesterday's light workout, 6-foot-4, 350-pound defensive tackle Kris Jenkins dropped back into coverage, and found himself one-on-one against Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown in the flat.

“;I got you,”; the Jets star yelled before bursting out laughing.


The champ gets busted

Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu came flying in from his safety position and into the offensive backfield before a snap during yesterday's practice.

Not only was he offsides, but it's illegal to blitz under special rules for the Pro Bowl.

Even though he just added a second Super Bowl ring to his collection, Polamalu wasn't able to escape the wrath of an AFC coach, who pulled him out immediately for New York's Darrelle Revis.