The parade of quarterbacks into the Pro Football Hall of Fame could continue next year with Troy Aikman.

The Cowboys star, who led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s, was a contemporary of Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino and Steve Young. All of them are in the Hall, and combined they won a total of three championships as starting QBs.

It’s possible Aikman could be voted in at the Super Bowl next February along with his favorite receiver, Michael Irvin, who came up short earlier this year in his first year of eligibility. Both of them will go into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor on Sept. 19, along with Emmitt Smith.

Smith, of course, only retired after the 2004 season.

Reggie White, who died last fall, is another front-runner to gain entrance into the Canton shrine. The career sacks leader when he retired, he also was the key to Green Bay’s turnaround when he joined Brett Favre in Titletown, the first major free agent to sign with the Packers. Together, they won the 1996 NFL crown and the 97 NFC title.

White was a two-time defensive player of the year and is considered among the best defensive ends in NFL history. His role as a ground-breaker and a lay minister also could help his cause.

Another possibility is versatile running back Thurman Thomas, who along with Kelly was a major contributor to Buffalo’s four straight AFC championships from 1990-93. He was the 1991 NFL most valuable player.



OLD TEAMMATES, NEW CRITICS?: Steve McNair now has the unusual task of having two former teammates helping broadcast Titans games. Eddie George will be working as an analyst on the exhibition games broadcast in Tennessee, while McNair’s one-time favorite target Frank Wycheck will be working on the team’s radio broadcasts.

“Both of those guys are good friends of mine and still are,” McNair said. “It’ll be very interesting in how they critique me.”

McNair pointed out that one thing could hamper both George and Wycheck in their new roles – neither knows the Titans’ new offense. But McNair said that won’t keep him from acknowledging George up in the broadcast booth.

“I might give him a nod,” McNair said.



NO HUDDLE: For fans who can’t get enough of preseason football, the NFL Network has come up with “NFL Total Access: No Huddle,” which will provide wraparound coverage of as many as nine games airing simultaneously.

Fans will be taken from stadium to stadium during live coverage of preseason games. The cut-ins will average 10 minutes at a time, then the network will switch to another game.

“No Huddle” will try to capture the key action in each game, although that’s a dicey proposition during the preseason, when regulars aren’t on the field much.

In all, 46 exhibition games over seven nights will be covered by “No Huddle.” The schedule called for six games on Friday night, six more on Saturday night, nine on Aug. 20, eight on Aug. 26, four on Aug. 27, nine on Sept. 1 and four on Sept. 2.

NFL network plans to carry 55 full preseason games in 25 days, 15 on HDTV.



COUGHLIN, 24/7: Tom Coughlin was asked what the New York Giants coaching staff does to relax?

“We sleep from 11:30 to five, that’s how we relax,” the coach said. “It’s two-a-days. What do you expect? There is no time. Once you start training camp there’s no time. Even on this schedule there’s no time, because you are always planning.

“I take a lot of pride in the planning part of camp, the practices, the administration, the details, and trying to make sure everyone is on the same page. Take a look around you; take a look around at the number of people it takes to run a training camp. We take a great deal of pride in that. The coaches being on the same page in practice, that type of thing. The communication – we sit there even after our night meetings and go over things. We look at the tape together, we go over the next day’s practice schedule in detail, and we talk about players, so it is the time of year when you don’t expect to have any time. That is just the way it is.”

Did someone say “burnout?”



HELPING THE HIGH SCHOOLS: More than 2,500 high school football coaches have spent time in NFL training camps this summer through the Gatorade High School Coach Training Camps program.

One area the coaches are being schooled in as they visit 20 training camps is hydration. Research by Gatorade has found that nearly 70 percent of high school football players attend practice, even two-a-day workouts, when they are dehydrated.

The coaches are hitting the camps of the Cowboys, Texans, Packers, Colts, Falcons, Cardinals, Giants, Seahawks, 49ers, Panthers, Dolphins, Jaguars, Chiefs, Browns, Bears, Saints, Jets, Broncos, Vikings, Buccaneers and Chargers.

“We hope this years camp will further the New York Jets’, the NFL’s and Gatorades efforts in equipping high school football coaches with the knowledge to train young players in basic skills and health practices,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said.

Added Westbury (N.Y.) High School assistant coach Savalis Charles:

“We learned quite a bit from technique down to sports safety. For example, we always gave just water during our practices, but after hearing the pros talk about dehydration and heat exhaustion, we learned that wasnt good enough. Were now going to be providing sports drinks, as well, to help keep them hydrated, especially during two-a-days.”


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