The Pro Football Hall of Fame cleared the decks of a number of finalists who had been debated for years, as they ushered in an eight-man class to Canton Saturday night.

First-year eligible linebacker Junior Seau was elected to the Hall of Fame, along with running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, guard Will Shields and wide receiver Tim Brown.

They’ll be joined this summer by seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff and contributor candidates Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, who were chosen in separate up-down votes which required at least 80 percent to be elected.

Brown, the longtime Raiders receiver/return man, was in his sixth year as a finalist, as he was stuck in previous years behind Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Andre Reed.

Likewise, Haley was in his sixth trip as a finalist, as he was finally recognized his contributions to five Super Bowl Champions in San Francisco and Dallas.

Bettis was in his fifth year in the final 15, and Shields was making his fourth trip that far.

Seau, however, didn’t need that much time, as the late Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker needed the shortest discussion of any of the 18 candidates discussed.

Those five modern era finalists emerged from a strong group of finalists, which were debated in a nearly nine-hour meeting Saturday.

The players who filled slots six through 10, and stand a solid shot at the Hall next year include linebacker Kevin Greene, quarterback Kurt Warner, tackle Orlando Pace, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and coach Tony Dungy.

The first five players eliminated from the original list of 15 modern era finalists were coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson, kicker Morten Andersen, running back Terrell Davis and safety John Lynch.

Those remaining players will be eligible again next year, along with a crop of first-year eligible players which includes quarterback Brett Favre, wide receiver Terrell Owens, guard Alan Faneca and safety Darren Sharper.

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was named the NFL’s offensive player of the year for the 2014 season.

Murray finished the regular season with 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus another 57 catches for 416 yards. His production was a big part of the Cowboys snapping their string of 8-8 seasons and making the playoffs.

Going forward, it remains to be seen whether Murray will keep helping the Cowboys win. Murray becomes a free agent in March, and the Cowboys may not have the cap space to afford to keep him.

But for now, Murray’s award is a tribute not just to his own season but to that of a great Cowboys offensive line, and to a year when Dallas finally turned the corner and returned to the postseason.

You hear all kinds of reasons why a recruit picks a certain school or crosses others off his list, and you’ll certainly hear more with National Signing Day right around the corner.  Never once can I recall having heard of a playing surface being a significant factor… until now.

In an interview with KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket, LaDainian Tomlinson was asked about the recruiting process and how he ended up at TCU. First, Tomlinson explained how Texas A&M never offering him a scholarship even as they wanted him to visit led him to very nearly sign with North Texas.

He didn’t land at UNT, obviously, as he ultimately signed with TCU. What exactly, in part, led him to the Horned Frogs over the Mean Green, and Baylor too? Allow Tomlinson to explain, as transcribed by the Dallas Morning News.

“TCU was a place that allowed me to stay close to my family. My mother was in Fort Worth at the time. I really needed to stay close to home, so it really came down to TCU, North Texas and Baylor, honestly. At the end of the day, TCU was probably the best place for me because they played on grass. Even in high school, I thought about this stuff. … I said, ‘Grass would be better than turf.’ North Texas had turf and even Baylor had turf.”

So there you have it: mom plus real grass equaled TCU in Tomlinson’s equation.  It takes all kinds, as the saying goes.

Whatever the ultimate trigger was, it was a boon for TCU football.

In the 31 years prior to Tomlinson’s arrival in 1997, TCU played in two bowl games.  During Tomlinson’s four seasons with the Horned Frogs, they played in three.  In 2000, Tomlinson’s last season as well as the program’s last without Gary Pattersonas head coach, the Horned Frogs won 10 games, the first time that had happened since 1938.

Individually, Tomlinson set the FBS single-game rushing record with a 406-yard performance in a 1999 game against UTEP, a mark that stood until Wisconsin’sMelvin Gordon broke it with 408 yards in November of last year.  One week later, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine shattered that record with his 427-yard effort.

A decade and half finishing off a career with 5,387 yards and 56 touchdowns, Tomlinson was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014.

As you all may or may not know, I registered with USA Today to be an ad watcher and vote for the best commercial for tomorrow’s Super Bowl.

There are some great commercials, so stay tuned for some more commercials, but I wanted to show you which commercial I voted for.  I thought it was so awesome.

Mophie 2015 Game Day Commercial | “All-Powerless”

 

CollegeHumor hilariously reenacts a pivotal scene of the popular film American Sniper in which a even more fake than you remember“.

 

The Perez Brothers also had a bit of fun with the “fake baby” who spoke “about his acting process” in a parody of a Charlie Rose bit.

Boston has added some potentially interesting pitching depth, with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Red Sox have signed right-hander Alexi Ogando to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

Ogando posted a 3.12 ERA in 381 innings from 2010-2013, switching back and forth between the bullpen and rotation for the Rangers while often failing to stay healthy. Last season he struggled for the first time in his career with a 6.84 ERA and was limited to 25 innings by a arm problems, so the Rangers non-tendered him rather than pay around $2.5 million via arbitration.

He figures to be strictly a reliever for the Red Sox and could emerge as a late-inning option if healthy. Ogando has a 3.25 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 138 career innings as a reliever, holding opponents to a .229 batting average.

“Welcome to the place where we speed all day, where we bump and grind in a non-sexual way.”

This is one of many pearls of wisdom shared by actor/comedian/champion woodworker Nick Offerman in a new, extended promo celebrating NBC’s return to NASCAR. Before and after the Super Bowl (but not during the game) the network will air shortened versions of the music video, which features the Parks and Recreation star extolling the virtues of stock car racing.

Here’s the glorious spot in full:

Although Offerman isn’t playing a character in the video, I spent the entirety imagining that it was Ron Swanson shilling for NASCAR. Here are three more bon mots offered up by Offerman:

“You want Billy and Sally to learn about math and science, send ‘em to the school of NASCAR, they’ll thank you for it.”

“Sure, everybody at NASCAR gets a trophy, as long as they win the [expletive] race!”

“Maybe Jimmie Johnson will come back and kick some tuchas.”

Anthony Richardson of The Exploding Heads comedy group recently added bad British commentary(previously) to the awesome 2015 College Football National Championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon Ducks.

From the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, John Blake …

 

Ranaudo failed to impress in the major leagues last season with the Red Sox, posting a 4.81 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven starts, but the 25-year-old has good minor league numbers and will give Texas rotation depth for the 2015 season and beyond. Ross, also 25 years old, owns a 3.27 ERA in 145 2/3 innings as a reliever at the big league level. He has a 5.70 ERA in 60 innings as a starter. It’s a nice bullpen addition for Boston.