February 06, 2005

Marino and Young Headline Hall of Fame Class of 2005

Former MVP quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young were among four men elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Marino and Young were the only two modern-era candidates to be elected and were joined in this year's class by senior committee choices Benny Friedman and Fritz Pollard.

The Class of 2005 will be inducted during ceremonies on August 7 in Canton, Ohio.

The Hall of Fame selectors met Saturday morning to discuss the merits of 15 finalists, reducing the list first to 10 and then six. The two players who did not receive 80 percent of the final vote were linebacker Harry Carson and wide receiver Michael Irvin.

Marino spent all 17 years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins (1983-99) and owns career records for yards passing, completions and touchdown passes. He completed 4,967-of-8,358 attempts for 61,361 yards with 420 touchdowns and 252 interceptions.

"It's really, really special," Marino said of his election. "Considering there's only 28 quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame. It's an honor to be inducted."

Marino also thanked his family, friends and teammates, as well as Don Shula, his longtime coach with the Dolphins.

"Thank you for just letting me turn it loose and throwing it as much as I wanted to throw it," Marino said in mentioning Shula.

The last quarterback of six chosen in the first round of the 1983 draft, Marino was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1984 NFL MVP when he set single-season records of 5,084 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes -- the latter of which stood until this past season when Peyton Manning eclipsed the mark with 49.

Marino played in just one Super Bowl, a 38-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers after the 1984 season.

Young quarterbacked the 49ers to the Super Bowl title after the 1994 season and was named the game's MVP when he set a record for touchdown passes with six during a 49-26 triumph over San Diego.

A two-time MVP (1992 & '94) with the 49ers, Young finished his career with 33,124 yards passing while throwing for 232 touchdowns. He began his pro career in the USFL, then struggled early in his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1985-86) before heading to San Francisco (1987-99) where he eventually replaced the legendary Joe Montana.

"It was the greatest organization put together," Young said of his time with the 49ers. "It was a very special place."

Young won six NFL passing titles, including four in a row, and holds the NFL record with a career passer rating of 96.8. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection was also a great scrambler, finishing with 4,239 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns.

Friedman, the NFL's first great passer, was a two-time All-America quarterback at Michigan and played professionally with the Cleveland Bulldogs (1927), Detroit Wolverines (1928), New York Giants (1929-31) and Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-34). He earned All-NFL honors in each of his first four seasons.

After the 1928 season, Giants owner Tim Mara purchased the Detroit franchise just to secure Friedman's services.

Friedman threw an NFL record 11 touchdown passes as a rookie with Cleveland in 1927, and set another record in 1929 with 20 TD passes with the Giants.

Pollard led Brown University to the Rose Bowl in 1915 and turned pro in 1919 after serving in the army during World War I. He started with the Akron Pros, who joined the newly-founded American Professional Football Association -- later renamed the NFL -- in 1920 and earned a place in pro football history as one of just two African-Americans in the new league.

With Pollard leading the charge, the Pros went undefeated (8-0-3) to win the NFL's first crown.

In 1921, Pollard was named the co-coach of the Pros to become the first African-American head coach in league history.

In addition to Irvin and Carson, the other finalists were linebacker Derrick Thomas; defensive ends L.C. Greenwood, Richard Dent and Claude Humphrey; wide receiver Art Monk; guards Bob Kuechenberg and Russ Grimm, cornerback Roger Wehrli; and the late George Young, the architect of two Super Bowl champion New York Giants teams.

Miller Wins World Downhill Gold

BORMIO, Italy - Bode Miller grabbed his second gold medal in the space of eight days, winning Saturday's Alpine ski world championship men's downhill in emphatic style.

Storming down the challenging 1.9-mile Stelvio course in one minute 56.22 seconds, Miller finished 0.44 seconds ahead of his United States team mate Daron Rahlves, ensuring a gold and silver double for the Americans.

Defending downhill world champion Michael Walchhofer of Austria had to settle for bronze after losing time on the upper part of the course and finishing 0.87 seconds off the pace set by Miller.

Miller, who became the U.S. team's first men's downhill world champion, was one of the early starters on Saturday and had to wait more than an hour before his win was confirmed.

"I'm really surprised because I wasn't so pleased with my run," the 27-year-old from New Hampshire told Reuters. "I was attacking all the way but I didn't think I'd done enough to win.

"I guess the course must have deteriorated, giving the others a rougher time, but it's great to have two Americans in the top two spots."

Rahlves, a World Cup winner on the Bormio downhill course in 2003, said he had also faced an anxious wait while watching the top Austrians come down the hill.

"I was really nervous as Walchhofer came down because I had also made some mistakes at the top," said the 31-year-old former world super-G champion. "To be second is a great reward for me. I definitely won silver rather than losing gold."

Miller has now been crowned world champion four times, in four different events.

At the last world championships in St Moritz he won titles in giant slalom and the combined event.

Aside from Walchhofer's bronze medal, there was disappointment on Saturday for the Austrian favorites.

Olympic downhill champion Fritz Strobl was beaten into fourth place, after finishing 0.08 seconds behind Walchhofer.

Former double Olympic and world champion Hermann Maier, who gashed his shin during final training on Friday, finished the race in 17th place.

Comets' Thompson to miss part of season

HOUSTON -- Houston Comets forward Tina Thompson is six months pregnant with her first child and will miss part of the WNBA season.

Thompson, the team's career leader in scoring and rebounding, said Friday the baby is due in mid to late May. The WNBA season begins May 21.

The father of the baby boy is Miami Heat guard Damon Jones, who played at the University of Houston and is Thompson's longtime boyfriend.

``I was very shocked,'' Thompson told KRIV television in Houston. ``It wasn't a planned thing, although it's a very welcome one and very exciting one for me and Damon.''

Thompson set no definitive date for her return but said she does plan to rejoin the team this season.

The top pick in the 1997 WNBA draft, Thompson was instrumental in the Comets' four WNBA championship runs and was a member of last summer's Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal.

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