First Call: Steelers Hall of Fame locks; 1 prediction has Penguins missing playoffs | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

Hall of Fame talk dots “First Call” today. Will the Penguins really miss the playoffs in 2020? And a look at how baseball financial inflation is out of control.


Who besides Ben?

This isn’t the most scientific NFL list of all time, but it may be worth a debate.

The Sporting News ranked the potential list of Hall of Famers. It doesn’t appear to be relying on data polled from Hall of Fame voters, necessarily. Just a hunch about how players have performed.

It goes team by team and assigns percent chances to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame for each team’s star players.

The author, Vinnie Iyer, identifies 28 “surefire,” 100% lock Hall of Famers currently playing in the league. That sounds like a lot, especially when you see certain players that already deserve a nod (i.e., Alan Faneca) still struggling to get inducted.

Ben Roethlisberger makes that cut for the Steelers. No one else does. But Maurkice Pouncey is given a 90% chance. David DeCastro is assigned an 80% chance.

Others mentioned are JuJu Smith-Schuster (40%), T.J. Watt (30%) and Cameron Heyward (20%).

And since you are wondering — and I know you are — Le’Veon Bell was given only a 40% chance. The same as Raiders center Rodney Hudson and Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins. That sounds low to me.

And, yes, Antonio Brown was designated at a 100% lock out in Oakland.


Speaking of the Hall of Fame

DeAngelo Williams is getting into the Hall of Fame.

Just not the one in Canton.

The former Steelers running back is getting inducted into the Conference USA Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class. Williams was a first-team All-American in 2005. His 6,026 career rushing yards are Memphis and Conference USA bests.

This isn’t just for football players. It’s for all student athletes. Chris Douglas-Roberts is also getting in from Memphis on the basketball list.

So is West Virginia coach Bob Huggins for his nine years of success at Cincinnati.


Ty Law and the Hall

Patriots cornerback Ty Law is getting into the Hall of Fame after two tries as a finalist. And he thinks more Patriots should getting inducted soon.

The former Aliquippa star was on Adam Schefter’s podcast. And he suggested there’s an anti-Patriots bias.

“It’s still like that today,” Law said. “As much winning as we’re continuing to do, it’s like we are looked at as a team. That’s it.”

Well, Ty, when one of the team’s most memorable moments was choosing to be “introduced as a team” before Super Bowl XXXVI, that’s going to happen.

Law also suggested it’s hard for New England players to get the call because the outside view of the team is that it’s all about Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and nothing else.

“You can’t do it by just two guys,” Law said. “I think we were molded like this through perception in the media that there was probably no other Hall of Fame players outside of that, which we now know was totally wrong. I think that I should be the first of a few more.”

Obviously, another WPIAL alum, Rob Gronkowski, should get in. Junior Seau and Randy Moss are already inducted. But their career numbers were largely built with other teams.

Other players such as Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest and Wes Welker may come up during future debates.


Penguins out?

The Penguins may miss the playoffs this year.

That’s the view of Matt Larkin from The Hockey News. Every year, he puts together a list of three teams that made the playoffs the previous season who will miss out the next year.

That’s paired with three teams who failed to qualify the previous season who will make it the next year.

Larkin hit on five of six a year ago. He has the Penguins missing the postseason in 2020 along with the Jets and Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile, he says the Flyers, Canucks and Panthers will find their way back into the bracket next spring.

Larkin predicts the Penguins will finish sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Here is his rationale:

“The math equation of last season’s result + Pittsburgh’s off-season so far is concerning. The Penguins, seemingly nearing the end of a contention era, get swept by the New York Islanders in the playoffs; a blueline already weighed down by Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson loses Olli Maatta in a trade for a forward; and Phil Kessel goes to Arizona in a trade for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph.”

If the Penguins do miss the playoffs, it’ll be the first time since 2006.


Funny money

Here’s a fun game to play from Business Insider.

Find the baseball player who was the highest-paid person in the game the year you were born and realize how much that number has jumped.

Keep in mind, Stephen Strasburg is making $39 million this year in Washington to set the standard for 2019.

I was born in 1974. So Dick Allen was the big ticket guy that year in Philadelphia at $250,000.

Let that settle in.

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