John Elway headed into retirement with two straight championships and plenty of well-wishers. Barry Sanders left the game with no titles and lots of questions.
Elway, the star quarterback of the Denver Broncos, and Sanders, the superb running back with the Detroit Lions, are the favorites for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today. A minimum of four selections must be made, and it's difficult to imagine either falling short in their first year of eligibility.
Also on the ballot are Art Monk, Bob Hayes, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Harry Carson, Richard Dent, Gary Zimmerman, Bob Kuechenberg, Bob Brown, Cliff Harris, Lester Hayes, Rayfield Wright, and George Young.
Elway, a nine-time Pro Bowler, threw for 51,475 yards, second to Dan Marino in league history. He also had the most fourth-quarter, game-winning, or game-saving drives (47).
Sanders is among the more enigmatic candidates for the Hall. At 31, he quit the game just when he was within range of the career rushing record, then held by Walter Payton. Sanders ran for 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons.
Tale of heads
The NFL knew Gene Upshaw well enough to stick a special note on his schedule as he prepared to be part of the Super Bowl's coin toss team. "It says on our itinerary `coin flip practice,' " said Upshaw, one of six NFL Hall of Famers from Texas involved in the pregame ceremony. "And they put on mine, `We're not kidding.' " . . . CBS has at least two Super Bowl commercial spots left to sell before the Super Bowl and the network said it won't offer discounts to fill the time. CBS is getting a record average of $2.25 million for a 30-second advertisement, and won't lower its price to sell out faster, CBS Sports President Sean McManus said earlier this week.