Fame, faceoffs and failure 

End Zone

So much material, so little space. Since we only do this once a week, the best option is dividing our time into three topics: Baseball's Hall of Fame, the National Hockey League and, of course, the Denver Broncos.

Hall of Fame: As a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (just one more year and I would have put in my 10 to become a Hall of Fame voter), I have seen that group from the inside. It's brimming with older and retired purists who revel in the good old days, meaning the 1950s and '60s. So it wasn't surprising when no former player received the required 75 percent of votes for induction this year, given the controversy that engulfed Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens over their alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Longtime Houston sparkplug Craig Biggio, the top vote-getter, will make it soon. (Trivia: Just a few days before Biggio was called up in June 1988 and began his major-league career, he played for Tucson against Colorado Springs in the first games ever at Sky Sox Stadium.) But I'm guessing many BBWAA voters wanted to make a statement this year. There'll be a ceremony with a few old-timer inductees, but nobody from the modern era, and that's fine.

If you ask me, Pete Rose, now 71, deserves to make the Hall of Fame ahead of Bonds, Clemens or others tainted by the steroids era. Rose was guilty of gambling, but he never was found to have tried to influence an outcome, and almost always wagered on his team to win. He didn't tarnish the game anywhere close to as much as those who took steroids.

National Hockey League: Finally, the owners and players came to their senses and reached a long-term agreement. If the NHL had lost this entire season, the league might never have returned in its current form.

Then again, perhaps the NHL needs to reconsider its entire structure and personality, which haven't been the same since Canadian cities and franchises faded into the background, unable to compete with the resources of American-based teams.

Since the end of Edmonton's dynasty in 1990, only once has a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup — Montreal in 1993 with goaltender Patrick Roy, who later helped Colorado win titles in 1996 and 2001. And only five times in the past 20 years has a Canadian franchise reached the Cup Finals.

Someday, the NHL should figure out how to have more of an even split (currently it's 23 U.S. cities, only seven in Canada), with playoffs producing a finalist from each country to play for the Stanley Cup. For now, don't be expecting great hockey, with the season starting this weekend after only a handful of days in camp.

Broncos busted: Of all the scenarios considered in advance, nobody thought Denver's defense would become the culprit in that nightmarish 38-35 overtime loss to Baltimore. Asking veteran cornerback Champ Bailey to cover Ravens speedster Torrey Smith one-on-one without safety help, especially after being burned early, was a recipe for trouble.

That was a coaching error. But just as unforgivable was second-year safety Rahim Moore totally blowing his assignment on the long touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones that sent the game to overtime, Any decent NFL safety makes that play, and Moore did take the blame, but don't be surprised if he loses his job anyway.

Denver head coach John Fox took a lot of heat for not pushing Peyton Manning and the offense to take a shot at moving into field-goal range in the final half-minute of regulation. On a warmer day, or inside a dome, Fox surely would have rolled the dice. But in that kind of weather, it's understandable that Fox figured Denver's odds would be better in overtime. If Manning had thrown an interception in the final seconds of regulation, the naysayers would've crucified Fox for that.

In the end, Denver's defense was far more responsible for this debacle. As a result, the front office will have tough decisions to make in the months ahead.


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