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Big disaapointment for 83

DALLAS -- Bills great receiver Andre Reed came oh-so-close but again fell short of induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. Reed made the cutdown in the voting from 15 modern-era finalists down to 10. He made the final 10 ahead of the other two great receivers on the list of 15 - Cris Carter and Tim Brown. Reed was among the final 10 last year as well, ahead of both Carter and Brown. (Jerry Rice also was in the final 10 last year and got elected.)

However, Reed did not make the cut in the reduction from 10 modern candidates to five. This was Reed's fifth straight year as a finalists.

The excruciating wait continues for Reed. Next year's group of first-year eligible candidates does not look overwhelming. It includes Tiki Barber, Will Shields, Drew Bledsoe and Corey Dillon, as well as coaches Bill Parcells, Bill Cowher and Marty Schottenheimer. Bills fans now will have to hope next year is the year for Reed.

---Mark Gaughan

 

Even hockey coach ready for football in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The Buffalo Sabres played in the Steel City on Friday night, but as expected most of the town was focused on Sunday's Super Bowl. Even Penguins coach Dan Bylsma got involved, picking the Steelers to beat Green Bay, 27-24.

"Special teams is always a big factor for the Steelers’ success," Bylsma said. "It will be really interesting to see what Green Bay does with their offense, if they’ll spread it out the way the Jets did in the second half [of the AFC Championship Game] and make it difficult on the Steelers. It seems like in big games you need big plays, and the Steelers have got to get some from their quarterback and their defense to win the game."

---John Vogl

Weather woes

DALLAS -- As hard as it is to believe given the part of the country we're in, this will go down as one of the worse Super Bowls ever in terms of weather.

An ice storm earlier this week resulted in traffic jams caused by disabled cars, forced the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport to cancel arrivals and departures and closed schools. On Thursday night, as much as five inches of snow fell in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, which is known as the Metroplex.

Even worse has been the frigid temperatures that have not risen above 20 degrees the past five days and featured minus-zero wind chills the first half of the week.

The weather delayed fans and celebrities from descending on North Texas and has made the lives of local residents, who aren't used to snow and ice, miserable.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to put a positive spin on the weather conditions, saying temperatures are improving. That's true. It's supposed to get up into the 40s by Sunday, about 35 degrees colder than last weekend.

---Allen Wilson

Homegrown talent

DALLAS -- The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are in the Super Bowl because they have built their teams with shrewd drafting and showing restraint in free agency.

Seventeen of Pittsburgh's 22 offensive and defensive starters were selected in the NFL draft or signed as undrafted college free agents. The number would be 20 starters if rookie center Maurkice Pouncey and offensive tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks -- all draft choices -- weren't sidelined with injuries.

Of the Green Bay's 22 starters, 19 were acquired through the draft or as undrafted free agents out of college.

Both rarely venture into free agency unless they're trying to re-sign their own players. But when they do pursue players from other teams, they often nail the selections.

Among the Steelers' acquisitions is inside linebacker James Farrior, a castoff from the New York Jets. They also didn't give up on outside linebacker James Harrison, who was cut three times by the team before becoming the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Packers' big free agent hits were cornerback Charles Woodson, the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.

Credit for these rosters are Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh's director of football operations, and Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson, who played linebacker from the Houston Oilers from 1975-80.

Eight of the Steelers' 10 first-round draft picks on Colbert's watch are starters, including Pouncey, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Troy Polamalu. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews III and nose tackle B.J. Raji are among the first-rounders acquired by Thompson.

Colbert and Thompson also have hit on several middle- and late-round draft picks and uncovered some undrafted gems as well.

Stability in the front office has been a key to Pittsburgh's and Green Bay's success. Colbert, a Pittsburgh native, has been with the Steelers since 2000. Thompson became the Packers' GM in 2005, but was in the personnel department for most of the 1990s under GM Ron Wolf, the architect of the Super Bowl teams in 1997 and 1998.

Bills GM Buddy Nix has said he wants to rebuild the team through the draft. Bills fans can only hope he is as good as Colbert and Thompson in landing talent.

---Allen Wilson 

 

 

The MAC well-represented in Super Bowl

DALLAS -- The Southeastern Conference has the most players participating in Super Bowl XLV with 18. Guess who is second on the list?

The Mid-American Conference will be represented in the game with 15 former players. The Big Ten also has 15.

The Green Bay Packers have nine for MAC stars, including wide receiver Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), running back James Starks (University at Buffalo) and defensive end Cullen Jenkins (Central Michigan). Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, Ohio) and linebacker James Harrison (Kent State) are among six MAC products on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh has three MAC quarterbacks with Byron Leftwich (Marshall) and Charlie Batch (Eastern Michigan) joining Roethlisberger. Marshall is no longer in the MAC.

"That’s just an awesome thing for this conference," said Roethlisberger. "I’m proud to represent Miami. I think it speaks volumes that even as a small conference you don’t have to be a BCS or a national championship contender every year to have players be able to come play in the Super Bowl."

Jennings turned down a scholarship offer from Big Ten member Michigan to play for Western Michigan, a move he has never regretted.

"I got the opportunity to establish myself as a student and then as a player," Jennings said. "It worked out great for me. If I had the chance to do it all over again I would choose Western. It allowed me to progress a lot quicker and mature a lot quicker."

One of the reasons Starks chose UB was to prove a point that if you're good enough the NFL will find you.

"Everybody doubted and said, 'If you go there, you aren’t going to do this, you aren’t going to do that,''' the Niagara Falls native said. "Alright, that’s what pushed me to go there and I am happy to be a part of the University of Buffalo.''

---Allen Wilson

 

Gaughan elected president of Pro Football Writers

DALLAS -- Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan was named 26th president of the Pro Football Writers of America during the organization's annual Super Bowl meeting today.

The News is the first paper to have three PFWA presidents. Larry Felser and Vic Carucci were the first two. The PFWA has about 250 members.

A 1983 graduate of Buffalo State, Gaughan joined The Buffalo News as a full-time employee in 1984. He has covered the Buffalo Bills since 1988 and became a beat writer in 1992.

Gaughan will serve a two-year term as head of the PFWA, which promotes and fights for access to NFL personnel so that reporters can better serve the public.

--Allen Wilson

El Presidente

DALLAS -- Congratulations to Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan, who was voted in as the new president of the Pro Football Writers of America on Friday. Gaughan is the 26th president of the organization and the third News reporter to hold the position, joining Larry Felser and Vic Carucci.

The News is the first paper to have three PFWA presidents. The term is for two years.

A 1983 graduate of Buffalo State, Gaughan joined The Buffalo News as a full-time employee in 1984. He has covered the Buffalo Bills since 1988 and became a beat writer in 1992.

---Allen Wilson

Kurt Warner on SB XLV

Former St. Louis and Arizona great quarterback Kurt Warner faced both the Packers defense and the Steelers defense in the previous two NFL seasons. He threw for 377 yards and three touchodowns on the Steelers in the Super Bowl two years ago. He knocked the Packers out of the playoffs last season in a 51-45 shootout. Here's how he analyzes the way to attack the two defenses:


Click here to download the audio and take it with you

--Mark Gaughan

Jim Kelly's pick

Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is picking Pittsburgh, 24-20, in Super Bowl XLV.

"I'm a Pittsburgh guy, so I have to pick the Steelers," Kelly said this morning when we talked to him between his radio interviews. "The key is they have to hit Aaron Rodgers. They have to put some hits on him early - and often. And so what if they have to take a couple penalties?"

---Mark Gaughan

Allen Wilson at the Super Bowl live chat at 1 p.m.

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